Reflections on the Daily Readings

April 29 - 30, 2016
The Season of Easter - The Fifth Week.
Readings: Sunday Cycle C; Weekday Cycle II.
Divine Office - Psalter Week I.

Friday 29:            Feast of St Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church, Patroness of Europe*
1 John 1:5-2:2; Psalm 102; Matthew 11:25-30
The first reading from the first letter of St John calls on us to live in the light, just as St Catherine of Siena did. If we live in the light we will not go wrong and we will live in truth before God and our fellow men and women. The gospel passage too can be applied to today’s saint for she brought comfort to many who were poor through her gentleness and humility of heart. We too are called to look after others and to share our belongings, our time and our life with them.

Saturday 30:        Of the Fifth Week of Easter
Acts 16:1-10; Psalm 99; John 15:18-21
Today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles sees St Paul setting out on his second missionary journey to the Gentiles which will take him as far as Corinth in Greece. He has a vision from God who tells him to spend time bringing the faith to what is modern day Greece. He is joined by St Timothy and also, scholars believe, by St Luke the Evangelist and author of the book. This is suggested by the use of the word ‘we’ in the last paragraph which tells us that Luke was a witness to part, at least, of what he records in the Acts. In the gospel, Christ tells his listeners that they will be persecuted for the sake of his name just as he too was persecuted. We all suffer in some way – from broken relationships, bad health, financial difficulties. But how much, if any, of our sufferings are a result of our being Christian? The world rejected Christ 2,000 years ago and, in truth, it hasn’t improved much since but continues to reject that which shows up its own weaknesses and shortcomings. As Christians we should be willing to be rejected by the world but that will only happen if we are brave enough to be real Christians. Paul was persecuted for Christ but it did not stop him carrying out his work for the Lord, and look at the legacy which he left. What sort of a legacy could we collectively leave were we to openly follow the path of Christ?

May 1 - 7, 2016
The Season of Easter - The Sixth Week.
Readings: Sunday Cycle C; Weekday Cycle II.
Divine Office - Psalter Week II.

Sunday 1:            Sixth Sunday of Easter
Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Psalm 66; Revelations 21:10-14, 22-23; John 14:23-29
We read in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles that some people have been preaching in Christ’s name but they have been adding certain practices to Christ’s teaching and insisting that the people comply. Saints Paul and Barnabas and the community are not happy with this and so send Paul and Barnabas and others to speak with the apostles in Jerusalem about this matter. They do not want the basics of the faith lost or muddied by unnecessary laws. The apostles in Jerusalem write a letter to the faithful explaining their decision which they entrust to Paul and his companions. Again today, our second reading speaks of the New Jerusalem which God has created. The new city will not have any temples because God himself will live in the midst of the city. There will also be no need for sun or moon because ‘the radiant glory of God and the Lamb’ will be its light. In our gospel text we see Jesus preparing the disciples for his departure but comforting them with the knowledge that when he has gone he will send the Holy Spirit who will be their guide and their strength. This same Holy Spirit was given to each one of us and is always with us to guide and strengthen us if we but ask for his help. The Spirit will bring us to the New Jerusalem where we will live in God’s presence for ever.

Monday 2:           Memorial of St Athanasius, Bishop & Doctor of the Church*
Acts 16:11-15; Psalm 149; John 15:26-16:4
In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles we see St Paul on his second mission to the Gentiles to preach the Gospel of Christ, this time in the area of Macedonia. He begins preaching in Philippi and is well received by the people. His preaching is so powerful and full of the Spirit that people readily accept Jesus as their saviour. In the gospel, Jesus is assuring his followers that he will leave them a strong witness to assist them after he has gone from them. The witness is the Holy Spirit. Christ is fully aware of the trials and persecutions which are to befall his followers but he is equally aware that with the aid of the Holy Spirit they will be able to endure and so be victorious. We too will be strengthened if we allow the Spirit to work in us.

Tuesday 3:           Feast of Sts Philip & James, Apostles*
1Corinthians 15:1-8; Psalm 18; John 14:6-14
In our first reading for today, St Paul tells us of the resurrection of the Lord and of his first appearances to his followers, among them James. The gospel tells us that we must believe in Christ in order to have eternal life and that the message of Christ is the message of God. We are called on to believe just as Saints Philip and James did and to put that belief into practice in our lives.

Wednesday 4:     Of the Sixth Week of Easter
Acts 17:15, 22-18:1; Psalm 148; John 16:12-15
In the first reading St Paul is now in Athens, the artistic and spiritual centre of Greece in Paul’s day. Paul’s first impression of the city is not a good one and he resolves to bring about change in the hearts of the people. He preaches at the Areopagus and uses the philosophy of the ancient Greeks in his arguments. Some laugh at his teaching while others believe and follow him. Jesus, in the gospel text, continues to talk to the disciples about the Holy Spirit. With the Holy Spirit we too will be led to the complete truth but only if we truly believe and are open to that truth and are willing to listen to the Spirit in our midst. If not, we will be no better than those who laughed at Paul in Athens.

Thursday 5:         Of the Sixth Week of Easter
Acts 18:1-8; Psalm 97; John 16:16-20
Today we see St Paul in southern Greece, in the city of Corinth, a city well known for its sexual immorality. Paul goes several times to the synagogue to persuade the people about Jesus but when they refuse to listen to him he goes instead to the Gentiles. Again his Spirit-filled teaching wins over many new believers. The gospel passage from St John sees Jesus preparing the disciples for his Ascension which quickly approaches. While they will be sorry to lose his physical presence they will rejoice in his glory and in the spread of the Gospel. So too, we should rejoice in the Gospel and its message to all peoples.

In Carmelite Churches:
May 5:                 Memorial of St Angelus, Carmelite Priest & Martyr*

Friday 6:              Of the Sixth Week of Easter
Acts 18:9-18; Psalm 46; John 16:20-23
Today’s reading from the Acts sees St Paul being assured by Christ himself in a vision, that those in Corinth who speak against him will never be able to silence or hurt Paul. With this knowledge Paul preaches all the more earnestly. A group of Jews even bring him before the civil courts because of his preaching but Paul is allowed to go as the proconsul refuses to get involved in religious matters. Paul now heads for Antioch. Again in the gospel, Christ is assuring his followers that their sorrow at his departure will only be temporary and that soon after they will rejoice as the kingdom of God spreads across the earth. We have a duty to help spread that kingdom as did the first followers of Christ.

Saturday 7:          Of the Sixth Week of Easter
Acts 18:23-28; Psalm 26; John 16:23-28
In the first reading from the Acts we see St Paul visiting the Christian community in Antioch. From here he sets off on his third missionary journey, this time to Galatia in modern-day Turkey. We are also introduced to Apollos, an Alexandrian Jew, who openly teaches about Christ and helps the believers. In the gospel, Christ is again reassuring the disciples as he prepares to leave them. He tells them that we should pray earnestly to God with full confidence while making all our prayers in the Lord’s own name.

Memorials this Week:
April 25:              Feast of St Mark, the Evangelist
There is not a huge amount known about St Mark. It was thought that he was the young man referred to in Mark 14:51-52 who fled at the arrest of Jesus, though there is no proof. He was a companion of St Paul on his first missionary journey as noted by Paul in his writings. Later he joined St Peter, on whose teachings his Gospel is based and which was written for Christians who were being persecuted in Rome to show them that Christ too suffered but never gave up. According to tradition, he founded the Church in Alexandria and was probably its bishop when he was martyred about the year 74. The symbol for St Mark is the winged lion.

April 29:              Feast of St Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church & Patroness of Europe
Born in Siena in 1347, Catherine became a Dominican Tertiary and lived a life of charitable works. She became involved in politics and was instrumental in getting Pope Gregory XI to leave Avignon for Rome. She died in 1380 leaving behind more than 400 letters and a great mystical work, Dialogue. She was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970, and Patroness of Europe in the Jubilee Year, 2000.

May 2:                 Memorial of St Athanasius, Bishop & Doctor of the Church
Athanasius was born in 295 or 297 in Alexandria. He attended the Council of Nicaea as a deacon in 325 and impressed the Council Fathers with his defence of the divinity of Christ. He became Bishop of Alexandria in 328 and served as bishop for forty turbulent years. He fought against the heresies of the time and particularly that of Arius (that Jesus is not co-equal with the Father but created by him) and, as a result, was exiled from his diocese on five occasions for a total of seventeen years. Yet he never ceased to defend Christ and his Church. He died in the year 373. He is one of the four great Greek Doctors of the Universal Church.

May 3:                 Feast of Sts Philip & James the Apostles
Very little is known about St Philip beyond the few mentions of him in the Gospels. According to tradition, he preached the Gospel at Phrygia and died at Hierapolis, where he may have been martyred. Philip was originally a disciple of John the Baptist. The St James we celebrate today is the son of Alphaeus, also known as James the Less (that is, the Younger). He was the first Bishop of Jerusalem and the author of the epistle in the Bible which bears his name. He was martyred in 62ad either by stoning or by being thrown from the top of the Temple.

May 5:                 Memorial of St Angelus, Carmelite Priest & Martyr
Angelus was one of the first Carmelites to leave the Holy Land and settle in Sicily. In 1220 he was killed by someone whose wickedness Angelus had apparently denounced. Little else is known about him but his cult spread throughout the Carmelite Order and he is an important saint on the island of Sicily.

© 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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