Reflections on the Daily Readings

July 26 - August 1, 2015
The Season of Ordinary Time - The Seventeenth Week.
Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle I.
Divine Office - Psalter Week I.

Sunday 26:          The Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
2Kings 4:42-44; Psalm 144; Ephesians 4:1-6; John 6:1-5
Our first reading and our gospel are strongly linked today because they both contain a similar miracle – the feeding of many people with small quantities of bread and fish. In the first reading from the second Book of the Kings we see the prophet Elisha feeding a hundred men with twenty barley loaves which they ate and still had some to spare though they were all satisfied. Our gospel for the coming few weeks comes from the sixth chapter of St John’s Gospel which is often referred to as ‘The Bread of Life Discourse.’ Alone among the gospels, St John’s does not contain the Institution Narrative from the Last Supper and this sixth chapter is seen as a development of the theology of the Eucharist for John and his Community. In today’s passage we see Jesus teaching more than five thousand people who he then them with five barley loaves and two small fish. Again the people eat all they want and are satisfied and still have some left over. We know that Christ feeds us with even greater bread than the people received from Elisha or Christ because we receive Christ’s own body and blood which bring us eternal life rather than the fleeting satisfaction the people received from the barley loaves.
In our second reading, St Paul tells us that there is only one baptism and that we all belong to the one Lord. Therefore, as members of the Body of Christ, we must live in charity and peace but above all we must believe in Christ if we are to receive the eternal life which he promised.

Monday 27:         Of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Exodus 32:15-24, 30-34; Psalm 105; Matthew 13:31-35
In our last passage from the Book of Exodus we saw the people saying that they would obey the Lord’s commands and now today we see them worshipping a calf of gold. Moses had been a long time on the mountain and they had complained to Aaron so he made a golden idol for them to keep them quiet. Moses smashes the tablets of the Law – showing that the covenant they made with the Lord has been broken. He then returns to the Lord to seek forgiveness. The Lord tells him that he, Moses, will not be held responsible for the actions of the people for they are the ones that strayed so quickly, but they will be punished when the time comes. In the Gospel we see Jesus continuing to teach through parables. Both of today’s parables refer to the kingdom which begins as a small movement (Christ and his Apostles) and which suddenly grows and is revealed in all its grandeur. We are the leaven in society and without us the kingdom will not grow or flourish and the world will not achieve justice and peace.

In Carmelite Churches:
July 27:                Memorial of Blessed Titus Brandsma, Carmelite Priest & Martyr*

Tuesday 28:         Of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Exodus 33:7-11, 34:5-9, 28; Psalm 102; Matthew 13:36-43
In today’s text from Exodus we see Moses meeting the Lord in the tent of meeting and on the mountain top where he asks the Lord to forgive the stupidity of the people and to take them again as his heritage. Moses spent forty days and nights on the mountain in the presence of God and received again the two tablets of the Law. The Psalm reminds us that the Lord is compassion and love and that he forgives those who have sinned. In today’s Gospel we see Jesus explaining the parable of the weeds, or the darnel, to his disciples. The weeds are the followers of the prince of darkness while the good seeds are the followers of Christ. At the end of time the good will be separated from the bad and the good will enter heaven while the bad will be cast below where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. This is yet another reminder for us to examine our lives and see where we are for we do not know when judgement day will come for each of us – maybe tomorrow, maybe next year.

Wednesday 29:   Memorial of St Martha*
1 John 4:7-16; Psalm 33; John 11:19-27 or Luke 10:38-42
The first reading from St John’s first letter speaks of love – love for God and love for others. Love was also a characteristic of Martha. We have two images of Martha presented to us in the gospels. The first is from St Luke in which we see Martha rushing about the house when our Lord arrives. She becomes annoyed because her sister, Mary, is sitting listening to Christ rather than looking after him. When she complains about this, Jesus tells her to stop worrying and to sit in his presence and listen as her sister is doing. In the second image, this time from St John’s Gospel, we are presented with the arrival of Jesus at the tomb of his friend Lazarus. Martha greets him while Mary stays indoors. Martha says that if Christ had come sooner her brother would not have died but that whatever Christ asks of the Father will happen. When asked if she believed that Christ was the resurrection and the life, Martha answers that she does and that she believes him to be the Christ, the Son of God. This is the faith to which we are all called to profess and to show in our lives through love of God and neighbour.

Thursday 30:       Of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Exodus 40:16-21, 34-38; Psalm 83; Matthew 13:47-53
We read of the construction of the first tabernacle by Moses in the Book of Exodus. The tabernacle contained the Ark of the Covenant with the tablets of the Law and there the Lord dwelled. When the Lord left the tabernacle the Israelites moved on but when he was in the tabernacle they rested. In today’s Gospel passage we have another parable about the kingdom of God, this time using the analogy of fishermen. The parable reminds us that there are both saints and sinners here on earth but the final sifting should be left to God. Those who are worthy will enter heaven; those who are not worthy will not enter. Again we are challenged to look closely at our own lives and to do all we can to ensure that we are on the right path for entry into heaven, if that is truly what we seek.

Friday 31:            Memorial of St Ignatius of Loyola, Priest*
Leviticus 23:1, 4-11, 15-16, 27, 34-37; Psalm 80; Matthew 13:54-58
In our reading from the Book of Leviticus the Lord instructs Moses about the solemn festivals which are to be held by the Jewish people each year – Pesach (the Passover) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). These are important reminders each year for the people of all that the Lord has done for them. In the Gospel we see Jesus returning to his home town and teaching the people. His ‘old neighbours’ however, dismiss him because they did not want their comfortable little world to be changed. As a result of their lack of faith he could work few miracles. Faith and healing are both gifts from God and if we refuse faith then we also refuse healing. We are all like the Nazarenes at times and need to remind ourselves that it is the kingdom we are talking about and that Jesus is the gate to that kingdom.

Saturday 1:          Memorial of St Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop & Doctor of the Church*
Leviticus 25:1, 8-17; Psalm 66; Matthew 14:1-12
In the text from Leviticus we read of the establishment of the jubilee year. The Lord instructs the people that every fiftieth year is to be a special year for them and they are to return to their own clans that year to celebrate the sacred jubilee. Part of the jubilee was also the practice of leaving the land fallow for that year to allow its fertility to return. It is a reminder that God is the Lord of Creation and the owner of all that exists. In the Gospel text we read of the martyrdom of John the Baptist at the hands of Herod the Tetrarch. John died because of the vanity of Herod who had made a rash promise to a beautiful girl and was afraid to go back on it even though he knew that what he was about to do was wrong. It is not always easy to do the right thing but when it comes to the kingdom of God, the right thing is the only thing to do for it will secure our place in heaven alongside John the Baptist and those who gave their lives for the sake of the kingdom.

Memorials this Week:
July 27:                Memorial of Blessed Titus Brandsma, Carmelite Priest & Martyr
Anno Sjoerd Brandsma was born at Bolsward, The Netherlands, in 1881, He joined the Carmelite Order in 1898 taking the name ‘Titus’ and was ordained in 1905. Following studies in Rome he lectured in philosophy at the Catholic University of Nijmegen from 1023 to 1942 and where he also served as professor and as Rector Magnificus. He was also a journalist and was involved in a number of publications and in 1935 he was appointed ecclesiastical advisor to Catholic journalists. During the 1930's he visited Ireland and stayed in Kinsale with the Carmelite Community there to improve his English before giving a series of lectures in the United States. Throughout the 1930s Nazi propaganda was on the rise but Fr Titus refused to support or print anything in support of the Nazi regime and he worked to maintain the freedom of Catholic education and press in the Netherlands. By 1942 it was required that the press in the Netherlands print articles in favour of the Nazi regime but, continuing to refuse, Titus was arrested by the Gestapo on January 19, 1942, and imprisoned in his native country before being sent to the concentration camp at Dachau where he brought comfort and peace to his fellow prisoners. In Dachau he was experimented on in the medical wing and was finally put to death by lethal injection on July 26, 1942.

July 29:                Memorial of St Martha
Little is known about Martha other than what is recounted in the Gospels. She was the sister of Lazarus and Mary, and a friend of the Lord. She is the sister who frets over the guests while her sister sits and listens to Jesus. She is also the one who addresses Jesus when he arrives following the death of her brother, Lazarus, and who makes her declaration of faith (“I believe you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world”).

July 31:                Memorial of St Ignatius of Loyola, Priest
Born in 1491 in Loyola of noble stock, Ignatius became a soldier. Having been wounded in battle against the French, Ignatius began reading sacred texts while he was recovering from his injuries and then went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He became a priest and began founding the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1534 and whose members are ready to serve the Church wherever needed. He died in 1556.

August 1:             Memorial of St Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop & Doctor of the Church
Born near Naples in 1696, Alphonsus became a lawyer before becoming a priest, being ordained in 1726. He created the Redemptoristines in 1730 and founded the Redemptorists (Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer – C.Ss.R) in 1732 to work among the country peasants. By the time of his death in 1787 however, the Redemptorists were in a terrible state though he was no longer at its helm to help heal the rifts. From 1762 to 1775 he was bishop of the small diocese of Sant’Agata dei Goti.

© 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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