Reflections on the Daily Readings

July 22 - 28, 2018
The Season of Ordinary Time - The Sixteenth Week
Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle II.
Divine Office - Psalter Week IV.

Sunday 22:          The Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 23:1-6; Psalm 22; Ephesians 2:13-18;
In our first reading from the prophet Jeremiah we see the Lord condemning those shepherds who have not cared for their flocks but have allowed them to be scattered and destroyed. The image of shepherds was a common one for kings in Old Testament times and so the passage goes on to speak about a true shepherd coming from the line of David. This king will be wise and the people will be saved by his work and they will not fear. From a Christian perspective, this new king is Jesus Christ who is of the line of David and who has saved his people.
In the gospel passage from St Mark – which is the conclusion to the passage begun last week – we see the Twelve returning to Jesus after they had been preaching in his name and they return rejoicing. Jesus encourages them to take some quiet time away from the crowds and they head off in the boat. However, the people have taken the message of the disciples to heart and work out where the Lord and his group have gone and head off by a different route, arriving ahead of the Lord. The Lord takes pity on them and so, instead of resting, he teaches them himself. Little has changed between Christ’s time and ours: the world badly needs those who will preach Christ’s message of salvation and there is a hunger in the world for that message. No matter who we are or what we do in life, as baptised Christians we were all commissioned to go out and to preach the Good News of the Kingdom both in word and in the example of our lives. There are still many in our world who have not heard about Jesus Christ, or who have forgotten about him, or who have not really come to know him. Each of us has a duty to bring our fellow men and women to the truth and the knowledge of God.
In the second reading, the author tells the Ephesians that Jesus Christ is the one who links many peoples. In the Palestine of the time there were two broad groups of peoples: the Jewish faithful and everyone else, with the Gentiles being the most prominent in the second group. Jesus was born and lived as a faithful Jew and he preached first to the House of Israel, but he also extended the message and the love of God to the Gentiles, to whom Paul was the great apostle. Jesus is now the one who unites both groups as one people before God the Father. Part of the unity is the Holy Spirit who is granted to all those who believe.

Monday 23:         Feast of St Bridget of Sweden, Patroness of Europe*
Galatians 2:19-20; Psalm 33; John 15:1-8
The first reading from St Paul to the Galatians speaks very much of Jesus Christ living in the person who believes in him and so the person lives the life of Christ. This is appropriate for St Bridget of Sweden because she gave what she had in the service of the poor and of Christ and the life she lived was not hers but Jesus Christ’s. The Psalm is a hymn of praise for God.
The gospel speaks of the vine whose branches bear much fruit if they remain pure and part of the vine tree. But if they separate themselves from the vine, as we might do from Christ, then they wither and have no life and are only good for the fire. If we remain close to Jesus Christ then all that we do will be done for the right reason and will be to the benefit of all, and will bring blessings on others as well as ourselves. We are called to be like Bridget and to give of what we have in the service of the Lord and of his people. If we do so then we will produce much fruit for the Kingdom.

Tuesday 24:         Of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Micah 7:14-15, 18-20; Psalm 84; Matthew 12:46-50
The Prophet Micah is calling on the Lord in the first reading to be merciful to his people and to pardon their sins and transgressions. The people wish to live under God’s blessing as in the past and Micah’s prayer to God is on their behalf. The Psalm takes up this theme and asks the Lord to revive his people, to lead them in the right path. In the Gospel, Jesus tells us that those who do the will of God are his brothers and sisters and mother. If we want to be called brothers and sisters of Christ then we too must denounce our sinful ways and do the will of the Father.

In Carmelite Churches:
July 24:              Memorial of Blessed John Soreth, Carmelite Priest*

Wednesday 25:   Feast of St James the Apostle*
2Corinthians 4:7-15; Psalm 125; Matthew 20:20-28
In our passage from the second letter to the Corinthians, St Paul tells us that, because he believes and proclaims the word of God, he will be raised to life with Christ. The death and the life of Jesus Christ are at work in him in a very powerful way. There is also a reminder that there will be trials in witnessing for the Lord but that through them all the Lord is with us and never deserts us. The God who raised Jesus from the dead will also raise us for our faithfulness to him.
In the gospel, we see Zebedee’s wife coming to Jesus to ask that her sons (James and John) sit at his right and left in heaven. Jesus can grant them places in heaven but only if they suffer for him through the spread of the Gospel, and they reply that they are willing to suffer for his sake. The other apostles are furious with their two companions but the lord tells them that as he came to serve they too must serve and not seek high places in the eyes of others, emphasising that humble service is an important characteristic of the Kingdom. We too are called to live lives worthy of the Kingdom no matter what trials may come our way. We are to carry our cross every day for Jesus Christ and to proclaim the Gospel by the example of how we live, as did St James.

Thursday 26:       Memorial of Sts Joachim & Anne, Parents of Our Lady*
Jeremiah 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13; Psalm 35; Matthew 13:10-17
In today’s first reading the prophet Jeremiah is speaking on behalf of God and reminds the people of how good God has been to them. Yet they have turned their backs on him and walked away from him, preferring instead to put their trust in man-made alliances with foreign groups. The Psalm reminds us that God alone is the fountain of life. In the Gospel, Christ tells us that he speaks in parables so that those who are open to him will understand. Those who are not open to him do not want to hear his message because they know that it would force them to convert. We are called today to conversion of heart and lifestyle. We are called to acknowledge what we have received from God and to be grateful for it and, in giving thanks, to be worthy of what we have received.

Friday 27:            Of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 3:14-17; Psalm – Jeremiah 31:1-13; Matthew 13:18-23
The Lord calls his people back to him in the first reading from the Prophet Jeremiah. He tells them that he will give them shepherds to guide them and that Zion will be their focal point as is a throne in a throne room. Today’s Gospel text explains the parable of the sower. We are called on to be the rich soil in to which the seed fell and produced a harvest. We are reminded today to look into ourselves from time to time in order to rid ourselves of anything which might reduce our faith and so separate us from the love of God.

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

Saturday 28:        Of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 7:1-11; Psalm 83; Matthew 13:24-30
In our reading from Jeremiah today, the Lord is telling the people how they must behave towards God and towards others. If they act according to his will, then he will stay with them. This is about the year 609 BC and Jeremiah is warning the people that the fact that the Temple is in Jerusalem will not mean that Jerusalem will stand against their enemies – God will only be on their side to protect them if they are faithful to him. In the Gospel, Jesus uses another parable – that of the seed and the darnel which grow side by side – one useful, the other useless – but the farmer leaves them both to grow until the harvest. In our world there are both good people and bad people and both grow and live side by side. The good should not worry that the bad grow and appear to prosper better than they, for the Lord will weed the good from the bad on the day of judgement. We must continue to live good lives converting ourselves more and more to the Gospel.

Memorials this Week
July 23:                Feast of St Bridget of Sweden, Patroness of Europe
Bridget was born between 1302 and 1304 in Sweden and in 1316 was married to Ulf Gudmarsson and together they had eight children. She became the chief lady-in-waiting at the royal court of King Magnus II in 1335, possibly due to her father’s post as a provincial governor. She was widowed in 1344 and from then on devoted her life to the poor and destitute. She travelled to Rome for the Jubilee Year in 1350 and spent the rest of her life there. She also established the Bridgettines though it never received official approval in her lifetime. She died in Rome in 1373 and her remains were returned to her native Sweden, to the Bridgettine monastery she had founded. Catherine – her fourth child – followed her mother and dedicated her life to the poor and to the strengthening of the Bridgettines. She too was widowed at a young age and she too was canonized.

July 24:              Memorial of Blessed John Soreth, Carmelite Priest
John Soreth was born at Caen in Normandy and entered Carmel as a young man. He studied at Paris and pre-dated Teresa of Avila in his attempts to reform the Order. He was Prior General from 1451 until 1471. He was responsible for the Constitutions of 1462 and he introduced nuns into the Order in the Netherlands in the early 1450s. He also promoted the Third Order. He died in 1471.

July 25:                Feast of St James the Apostle
Also known as James the Greater, he was the brother of St John the Apostle and Evangelist. Not much is known about him other than what is to be found in the Gospels where he has a special place among the Twelve with Peter and John. In Spain it is believed that he preached the Gospel in the Iberian Peninsula and that his relics were buried at Santiago de Compostela, but this is not maintained outside of Spain. He was the first of the apostles to die having been martyred by Herod Agrippa between 42 and 44 AD, possibly by being beheaded.

July 26:                Memorial of Sts Joachim & Anne, Parents of Our Lady
These are the names traditionally given to the parents of Our Lady, though nothing is known about them. Anne is the Patron Saint of Canada, women in labour, miners, cabinet-makers and home-makers.

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.

© 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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