Reflections on the Daily Readings

August 21 - 27, 2016
The Season of Ordinary Time - The Twenty-first Week.
Readings: Sunday Cycle C; Weekday Cycle II.
Divine Office - Psalter Week I.

Sunday 21:          The Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 66:18-21; Psalm 116; Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13; Luke 13:22-30
In our first reading we see that the Lord is going to gather all of his Chosen People from wherever they have been scattered and return them to Jerusalem. They will come in chariots, on horseback, on stretchers, but they will come to Jerusalem. In the gospel, Jesus tells us that there will be a gathering of the nations in the kingdom of heaven. But he also warns us that not everyone will be saved because there will be those who will not believe in him or in his message until it is too late and these people will be left out in the cold while the faithful will enter paradise to take their places along with the prophets of old. It is a reminder to us that we must live up to our responsibilities as baptised Christians sooner rather than later and to take an active part in the spread of the Gospel.
In our second reading from the letter to the Hebrews, the author tells us that some of us will be punished by the Lord but this should not be a cause of worry for – in punishing us – the Lord acknowledges us as his sons and daughters. His punishment, therefore, is intended to make better people of us. Of course we can avoid such action by living according to the gospel precepts, beginning today.

Monday 22:         Memorial of the Queenship of Mary*
Isaiah 9:1-6; Psalm 112; Luke 1:26-38
Our first reading today comes from the Prophet Isaiah and is commonly heard coming up to Christmas. In the text the prophet tells us about the Son who will be given to us and will bring us salvation through his self-sacrifice. The gospel text is St Luke’s account of the Annunciation in which we hear how the Son spoken of in the first reading will be born. As always, the readings on memorials and feastdays of Our Lady remind us of her great service to the word and will of God.

Tuesday 23:         Of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time
2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, 14-17; Psalm 95; Matthew 23:23-26
Today, St Paul exhorts his readers in Thessalonica to remain faithful to Christ’s message and not allow themselves to be led astray by false prophets or by those who proclaim that ‘the end is nigh.’ This was in answer to the idea that the Second Coming of Christ was about to happen very soon but Paul warns the people not to be deceived by false prophecies about this event but to remain faithful to the faith which he gave them. In our Gospel, Jesus continues to rebuke the scribes and Pharisees. He tells them that they have been more concerned with the measure of things than with justice, mercy and good faith. He also tells them that what is in their hearts is of far more importance than their outward appearances. We too should be more concerned with our inner disposition than with how we dress and appear to others and we must make justice and mercy priorities in our whole life while building up our faith.

Wednesday 24:   Feast of St Bartholomew the Apostle*
Apocalypse (Revelations) 21:9-14; Psalm 144; John 1:45-51
Our first reading from the Book of the Revelations made to St John the Evangelist, speaks of the new Jerusalem which has twelve foundation stones. The new Jerusalem is a metaphor for the Church established by Christ and built on the foundation of the apostles themselves. The wall symbolises the people of God. In the gospel we see Nathanael (Nathaniel) being brought to Jesus and we read of his declaration of faith because of what Jesus said to him. It is believed that this Nathanael is the St Bartholomew we honour today.

Thursday 25:       Of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 1:1-9; Psalm 144; Matthew 24:42-51
Today we turn to St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians which was written by Paul between 55 and 57 AD, about five years after he had left the port town in southern Greece. In today’s passage Paul tells us that we have been enriched with so many graces by God. If we put our faith and trust in Christ then he will keep us on the right path towards heaven. In the Gospel, Jesus reminds us that we do not know the day or the hour when he will return, or indeed when we will be called to give an account of our life. Therefore, we must always be ready and must be living a Christian life at every moment by being faithful to Christ and to his Gospel.

Friday 26:            Of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 1:17-25; Psalm 32; Matthew 25:1-13
We are reminded by St Paul in his letter to the Christians in Corinth that for many people preaching about a crucified saviour is nonsense – the Jews could never accept a Messiah who suffers and the Greeks could never understand a God who dies. But for those of us who believe in the wisdom of God it is our salvation and our hope. We are reminded again in our Gospel reading to be always ready for we do not know when the Lord will return or when he will call us to himself. Those who are ready and have lived a Christian life will enter the kingdom but those who have not been faithful will find themselves outside in the cold.

Saturday 27:        Memorial of St Monica*
1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Psalm 32; Matthew 25:14-30
There are those who consider Christians to be foolish because they believe in someone who was so weak that he was executed in a most demeaning way. But St Paul tells us in the first reading that God uses what appears to be weak to confound the mighty and to show his great power. It is only by placing our trust in the Wisdom of God that we will understand what it is the Lord wants of us and so enter heaven. In our Gospel text we have the parable of the talents. We have all been given gifts and talents which we must use for the sake of the kingdom and the good of others. One such talent is our faith which was given to us at baptism. It is not simply enough to say that we believe in God but we must actively strengthen our faith and put it into practice in our daily lives through prayer and good works.

Memorials this Week:
August 22:           Memorial of the Queenship of Mary
This memorial celebrates the crowning of Mary as Queen of Heaven following the Solemnity of the Assumption seven days ago.

August 24:           Feast of St Bartholomew the Apostle
Very little is known about Bartholomew apart from his being listed among the Twelve in the Synoptic Gospels. Many scholars identify him as the Nathanael who came to visit Jesus under the cover of darkness in the first chapter of St John’s Gospel. Tradition holds that he preached the faith in India, though there is no evidence of this.

August 27:           Memorial of St Monica
Born in North Africa to a Christian family in 332, Monica married a pagan, Patricius, who was converted due to her gentle ways. She then spent her energies in converting her eldest son – Augustine – to the faith. She followed him to Milan where she enlisted the help of St Ambrose, then Bishop of Milan, and in time Augustine was converted and became one of the greatest teachers in the Church. She died in Ostia in 387 while Augustine was taking her home to North Africa. Her last words, recorded in Augustine’s ‘Confessions’ were – “Lay this body wherever it may be. Let no care of it disturb you: this only I ask of you that you should remember me at the altar of the Lord wherever you may be” (Confessions Book 9, Chapter 11).

© 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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