Reflections on the Daily Readings

September 22 - 28, 2019
The Season of  Ordinary Time - The Twenty-fifth Week
Readings: Sunday Cycle C; Weekday Cycle I.
Divine Office - Psalter Week I.

Sunday 22:          The Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Amos 8:4-7; Psalm 112; 1Timothy 2:1-8; Luke 16:1-13
In our first reading, the prophet Amos speaks to the people on behalf of God and warns them to be honest and upright in their dealings with people, especially with the poor and those who have no voice, and to protect them from the unscrupulous. He warns against being pious on the one hand and then carrying out sinful deeds on the other, especially at the expense of the vulnerable in society. In all things, God sees everything and will deal with people according to what they have done.
Our gospel passage sees Jesus warning us about the dangers of money and wealth. In the parable, an absentee landlord has been told that his steward was not doing his job properly. The landlord believes the story and is about to sack the steward and so the steward tries to protect his future while also getting even with the landlord. The landlord hears of this, too, and praises the steward which seems rather odd, but it conforms to the idea that in the Kingdom there is no retaliation. Jesus affirms that money is necessary but also says that those who are dishonest when it comes to money will also prove themselves dishonest when it comes to real treasure, which is the Kingdom of God. Money and wealth are important and necessary but they have the ability to corrupt, as is shown in the text. The passage finishes with Jesus reminding the people that, in reality, they can only serve one master and so they have a choice to make: to serve God or to pay lip-service to God while serving the material things of this world. One will lead to eternal life while the other will lead to death.
In the second reading, advice is given to Timothy about the ordering of the Christian community. In the passage, the author says that the community should pray for their fellow men and women through ‘petitions, intercessions and thanksgiving’ so that all people may come to the true knowledge of God and so inherit the Kingdom. These prayers are not confined to those who already believe but extend to all peoples and to those in authority (in his day that would have included the Romans who worshipped their own gods) and, in this way, allow the community to live in peace and to grow. Timothy is reminded that it is the will of God that all people should be saved, which is achieved through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Monday 23:         Memorial of St Pius of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), Priest*
Ezra 1:1-6; Psalm 125; Luke 8:16-18
For the next three weeks we return to the Old Testament for our first reading beginning today with the book of Ezra which was probably written in the third century before Christ but concerning the return from Exile in 515-513 BC. In our section today we see God moving the heart of King Cyrus to allow the Jews to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, which had been destroyed by the Babylonians and who were later defeated by the Persians who now rule the land. In the Gospel text we have the parable of the lamp in which Jesus reminds us that nothing is secret. We live and work in communities and so what we do will ultimately be known to the community but, more importantly, everything is known to God. Our faith too is something which is not strictly private for the Christian community is a public one and we are called to proclaim our faith in public though not so as to gain any adulation from others but so that others may see our example and, through us, come to know the living God.

Tuesday 24:         Of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Ezra 6:7-8, 12, 14-20; Psalm 121; Luke 8:19-21
In the text from Ezra we read of the Israelites completing the Temple to God at the command of King Darius (it was begun under the rule of Cyrus). This was completed about the year 515 BC on what was the site of Solomon’s magnificent temple. When the Temple was completed they restored the priesthood to it as Moses had prescribed in the Torah. The Psalm speaks of rejoicing during the pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. In the Gospel, Jesus tells us that those who listen to his word and carry out his wishes will be regarded as his mother and sisters and brothers. It is a challenge to us to ask ourselves if we are worthy of those titles and, if not, what are we willing to do to be seen as the close family of Jesus.

Wednesday 25:    Of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Ezra 9:5-9; Psalm – Tobit 13:2, 4, 6, 8; Luke 9:1-6
Today, Ezra the priest praises the Lord for he has given the people a refuge even after they had sinned against him which resulted in their slavery to the Persians. They were in slavery because they did not keep the covenants and had strayed from the Law of God. Yet God is still faithful to them and has moved the heart of the king to allow them to rebuild the Temple and now they have a place in which to worship and to continue their faith. The Psalm reminds us that while God punishes us for our transgressions he is still merciful. In the Gospel we see Jesus sending out the Twelve on their first solo mission to preach in his name. They are to preach and to heal and to prepare the people for the Good News. We too were commissioned at our baptism and have been sent out every day since to preach and to heal, but how many of us have actually done that for even a few minutes a day? If we were all to be faithful to our promises then this world would be a better place.

Thursday 26:       Of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Haggai 1:1-8; Psalm 149; Luke 9:7-9
Our reading today goes back a few years in the history of the Israelites to about the year 520 BC. Work on the reconstruction of the Temple has slowed down at this point and the Lord sends the prophet Haggai to remind the people that while they live in very fine dwellings, the Temple of the Lord is still lying in ruins. The Lord instructs them to consider how life has gone for them and to then go and prepare the materials for the new building. In the Gospel today we see that Herod has become aware of the presence of Christ in his jurisdiction. He has also heard the people speaking about Jesus and it shows us that despite his many signs and miracles and his preaching, the people still do not see Jesus as the Messiah. They still think he is John the Baptist or one of the ancient prophets come back to life. We too must ask ourselves who Christ is for us. Is he simply a saintly man, someone who preached about love and moral living or is he really our Lord and Saviour?

Friday 27:            Memorial of St Vincent de Paul, Priest*
Haggai 1:15-2:9; Psalm 42; Luke 9:18-22
The Lord speaks through the prophet Haggai in the first reading and tells the people that he will bless the Temple which they are about to build him and it will be greater than the Temple of old. The people had become disheartened as they built this new structure because it had none of the splendour and magnificence of the building which had been commissioned by Solomon. The Psalm reminds us to always hope in the Lord no matter what. In the Gospel text for today we see St Peter make his great profession of faith when Jesus asked the disciples who they say he is. In their reply they also tell him what the people think and it echoes the text we had yesterday in which Herod reminds others that he had John the Baptist beheaded. Jesus is the Christ of God and that is the faith that we are called to repeat with Peter each day. But do we truly believe that or are we still blind like the people of the time? For if we truly believed then our lives and this world would be so much better.

Saturday 28:        Of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Zechariah 2:5-9, 14-15; Psalm – Jeremiah 31:10-13; Luke 9:43-45
In the first reading today from the prophet Zechariah (written between 520-517 BC) we see the Lord telling the people that he will be the wall around Jerusalem which will protect the city and its people. At the same time he will be the glory which dwells in the midst of the people in the centre of the city. The people will not need to build a stone wall around the city for the Lord himself will be their protector when he returns to Zion. For the second time in the Gospel this week we see Jesus telling the disciples that he will be handed over and will eventually die. They still do not understand what he is saying and they are too afraid to ask. We have the benefit of their accounts of the life, death and resurrection of Christ and so we know that there was no need for them to be alarmed but to rejoice for salvation was in their midst. How much more they could have enjoyed the living presence of Christ had they known what we know? And yet we have this knowledge but do we really enjoy living in the presence of Christ knowing that salvation has not only been promised to each one of us but has been guaranteed through the death and resurrection of Christ?

Memorials this Week:
September 23:    Memorial of St Pius of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), Priest
Francesco Forgione was born in Pietrelcina, in the mountainous region of southern Italy, in 1887. He joined the Capuchin Friars (OFM Cap) and was ordained priest in 1910. He suffered from ill-health and was thought to have tuberculosis at one stage. While praying before a cross he received the visible stigmata on September 20, 1918. His fame spread far and wide after the end of the Second World War and crowds flocked to hear and see him. Many miracles have been attributed to him and he was a gifted confessor. He founded a hospital in 1956. He died on September 23, 1968, and was canonized in 2002.

September 27:    Memorial of St Vincent de Paul, Priest
Vincent was born in Gascony, in south-west France, in 1581. He became a priest in 1600 and, on a visit to Paris, he met with Fr Bérulle and Mme de Gondi. This encounter changed his heart forever as he became totally immersed in the plight of the poor and destitute. In 1625 he founded the Congregation of the Missions (the Vincentians) and, in 1633, the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, to carry on his work. He died in 1660 and is the patron saint of all charitable societies, and in particular the society which bears his name.

© 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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