Reflections on the Daily Readings

February 7 - 13, 2016
The Season of Ordinary Time - The Fifth Week/The Beginning of Lent
Readings: Sunday Cycle C; Weekday Cycle II.
Divine Office - Psalter Week I/IV.

Sunday 7:            The Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 6:1-8; Psalm 137; 1Corinthians 15:1-11; Luke 5:1-11
In our readings last week we saw the Lord calling us to be his prophets. In today’s first reading we see Isaiah answering the Lord’s call and volunteering to be the Lord’s messenger to the people. At the same time, however, Isaiah acknowledges that he is not fit for this task for he is a sinner. The Lord then takes away his sin. In the gospel we see Jesus by the lake of Gennesaret where he meets Simon Peter, as well as the brothers James and John. They have been out all night and have caught nothing but, at Jesus’ command, they cast their nets again and net a huge haul of fish. Peter realises he stands before someone truly great and asks to be left alone for he is a sinner. Still Jesus calls him and they follow him. Last week we were called to be God’s prophets; this week we are reminded of those who answered that call and what it is that we are asked to preach. It is now for us to decide whether or not we want to answer the call and live up to the commitments which were made at our baptism and which we ourselves renewed last Easter. There is also a reminder that God knows our inmost being, he knows of what we are made and still he calls us.
In the second reading we see St Paul reminding the Corinthians, and ourselves, about the basis of the Christian faith. He recalls their basic beliefs about Jesus and the resurrection as he taught them and he reminds them of how unworthy he himself was for this important work.

Monday 8:           Of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
1 Kings 8:1-7, 9-13; Psalm 131; Mark 6:53-56
In the reading from the first book of the Kings, Solomon, now king, completes the wish that David once had – to build a house of stone for the Ark of the Covenant, that is, the casket containing the two tablets of the Law. Solomon builds the great Temple in Jerusalem and has the Ark placed within it. Our Gospel theme is a continuation of last week’s theme on faith. Jesus is moving through the countryside and the people are flocking to see him. Many hope for a cure and many ask that they be allowed to touch even the hem of his garments for they believed that even this would cure them.

Tuesday 9:           Of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
1 Kings 8:22-23, 27-30; Psalm 83; Mark 7:1-13
Solomon now goes in to the Temple he has had built and prays to God. First, he praises God and then he asks for two things in particular for the people: that God will always hear them, and that he forgives them their transgressions. St Mark shows us Jesus at odds again with the Pharisees. This time they are not pleased that the disciples do not follow the rituals for washing prescribed by the Law. Christ points out that the rituals are nothing without the correct disposition of mind and heart. While the Pharisees may fulfil the letter of the Law in what they do, they do so without any great conviction. This is a reminder to us that going through the motions of our own religion is not enough – we must have faith in God and believe in what we are doing and why we do it.

Wednesday 10:   Ash Wednesday
Joel 2:12-18; Psalm 50; 2Corinthians 5:20-6:2; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
Today we enter Lent – the great penitential season of the Church’s year – in preparation for the death and resurrection of Christ for the salvation of each of us. The readings today speak about repentance, about fasting, about preparation. We are called to prepare for the glory of the resurrection and our salvation by prayer, fasting and almsgiving. In the gospel, we are told that what we do is to be done quietly and without drawing attention to ourselves for that means nothing in the sight of God. Throughout Lent, many people give up various things, such as chocolate or sugar, etc., but what we are asked to give up in the readings has far greater impact not just on ourselves but on others, for we are asked to give up sin and hypocrisy.

Thursday 11:       After Ash Wednesday
Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Psalm 1; Luke 9:22-25
In today’s Old Testament reading Moses sets before the people a choice – life or death. To gain long life they must live according to the commandments of God. To gain death they need only ignore God. The Psalm speaks of the happiness of those who do turn to God. Similar to the first reading, Jesus too gives us a choice – life or death. If we opt to follow him in all that we do and say then we will gain an eternal reward, though this may mean losing our physical life here on earth but it will certainly mean entering into life with Christ. The purpose of the readings each day is to make us think about our lives and where they are going. The readings today encourage us to reflect, at this early part of Lent, on what we have to change over the next few weeks in order to make us more worthy of the great sacrifice made for us by Christ.

February 11:        Memorial may be made of Our Lady of Lourdes

Friday 12:            After Ash Wednesday
Isaiah 58:1-9; Psalm 50; Matthew 9:14-15
Through the Prophet Isaiah the Lord tells us the sort of fast that is false – one which is trumpeted before others while putting on a false impression of being miserable. Instead, God wants a quiet, private fast. He also wants all oppression to cease and for all people to show charity to their neighbours. Isaiah spells out practical works of mercy that do please God. We might imitate these ourselves in a variety of ways throughout this penitential season. In the gospel, the disciples of John the Baptist ask Jesus why it is his that his disciples don’t fast like they and the Pharisees do. In reply he tells them that because he (the bridegroom) is with them, they will not fast – when he is gone, then the time will be right for fasting.

Saturday 13:        After Ash Wednesday
Isaiah 58:9-14; Psalm 85; Luke 5:27-32
The Lord continues to tell his people how they should live if they are to enjoy his favour. They must do all that he has commanded them and must bring about an end to tyranny and oppression. It reminds us of the blessings and rewards that lie in store for us if we practise kindness and compassion towards others. Our gospel text reminds us that the Word of God is not just for those who believe and live their lives in accordance with his wishes for they are not in need of conversion. His Word is for all people and particularly for those who are not living a life worthy of him – and he is the judge of what is worthy of him.

Memorials this Week:
February 11:        Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes (Optional)
In 1858, fourteen year old Bernadette Soubirous received a vision from Our Lady near the mountain village of Lourdes, in southern France. Initially, people refused to believe her but the apparitions continued. When Bernadette asked the Lady who she was she replied that she was the Immaculate Conception. In time the well and site of the apparition became a centre of prayer as people flocked to it to draw closer to Our Lady and in the hope of receiving a cure. Several miracles have taken place here. In recognition of this, Pope John Paul II named this particular day ‘World Day of the Sick’ in 1992. On this day, special liturgies may be celebrated which include the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.

© 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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