Reflections on the Daily Readings

March 26 - April 1, 2017
The Season of Lent - The Fourth Week.
Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle I.
Divine Office - Psalter Week IV.

Sunday 26:          The Fourth Sunday of Lent – Laetare Sunday
1Samuel 16:6-7, 10-13; Psalm 22; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41
In the text for our first reading today from the book of the Prophet Samuel we see Samuel out looking for a successor to Saul – Israel’s king. Even though Saul was king and his sons should have ruled after him, God had found him unworthy and had decided to break the royal line and appoint somebody else as king to succeed Saul. Samuel goes to Jesse of Bethlehem who presents each of his sons except the youngest who is out minding the herd. However, the Lord chooses none of those presented but instead singles out the youngest boy – David – for service as the anointed King of Israel. The other sons are taller and stronger and more regal looking but it is the youngest and most insignificant that the Lord had anointed.
St Paul reminds the Ephesians in the second reading that, as Christians, they are children of the light (that is, of Jesus Christ) and that they are to live by that light in all things. Only by right living can they really be children of the light and know what path the Lord is marking out for them in their life. He tells the people that they must find what it is the Lord wants them to do because each one has been given a different role in this world. David was simply regarded as a shepherd boy and yet he became the greatest king in Jewish history because that is what the Lord had in store for him. We too are to discover what it is the Lord wants of us and we are to live that out in our lives if we are to have eternal life.
In our gospel text for today we see Jesus on a Sabbath day giving sight to a man born blind. The miracle itself receives little print but the reaction of the Pharisees and officials receives a lot of print as St John records that reaction for us. The Pharisees maintained that the man had been born blind because of sins committed either by his parents or by himself, though Jesus tells us that this was not the case. They question the man and his parents and the man answers back quite strongly and so receives a rough time from the Pharisees. This incident began to drive a wedge among some of the Pharisees themselves and between the Pharisees and the followers of Jesus because some of the Pharisees saw Jesus as a sinner and, therefore, not from God because he broke the Sabbath, while others saw him as being from God precisely because of the miracle he worked. The first reading and gospel remind us that how we perceive the world is not always how God perceives it and that oftentimes God chooses those whom the world rejects (such as the boy David) to lead his people. The key in all things is faith in Jesus Christ who opens to us eternal life.

Monday 27:         Of the Fourth Week of Lent
Isaiah 65:17-21; Psalm 29; John 4:43-54
God tells us through the Prophet Isaiah that he will establish his kingdom on earth and it will be one of happiness because he will be with us. In the text we have God tells us that those blessings will mean that the sound of weeping will no longer be heard and that infants would no longer die after a few days. In the text from St John’s gospel we see Jesus fulfilling the text from Isaiah as he cures the son of a court official which also removes the mourning veil from over the official’s house. The official had wanted Jesus to come to the house and cure the boy but Jesus would not go, preferring instead to tell the man his son was saved. The man believed and went on his way. We are asked to have faith in Christ as this official did and to live according to his ways. If we do so, then we will inherit the kingdom God spoke of in the first reading. Christ’s message is not just for the Jews or the poor, but for all people be they rich or poor, powerful or powerless.

Tuesday 28:         Of the Fourth Week of Lent
Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12; Psalm 45; John 5:1-3, 5-16
In the first reading from the Prophet Ezekiel we read of a stream of water coming from the Temple which gives life to everything it comes into contact with. This reading reminds us of the new life that the waters of baptism bring to our souls. In the gospel, Jesus is at the Sheep Pool in Jerusalem which was believed to have curative powers. Jesus cures a man by simply telling him to get up and walk. The authorities are annoyed because he did this on a Sabbath. They failed to see that what was at work was the power of God, something which does not rest even on a Sabbath. Jesus is the Temple of the first reading, and the stream of water is the water of baptism. We are represented by the trees and fish and other things that are nourished by the water.

Wednesday 29:   Of the Fourth Week of Lent
Isaiah 49:8-15; Psalm 144; John 5:17-30
The text from the Prophet Isaiah for today comes from the second Song of the Servant of God and in it the servant is told that he is the covenant of the people who has been appointed to bring the people back to God and to rescue them from wherever they have been scattered. We are reminded that the love of God is far more tender than a mother’s love for her child. In the gospel passage, we see that Jesus is the covenant of the people – the one who was sent to redeem the people. He also makes it quite clear that he and the Father are one and they both act in the same way: as Jesus is merciful to those who come to him, so too is the Father. As Jesus was tender and compassionate, so too is our Father.

Thursday 30:       Of the Fourth Week of Lent
Exodus 32:7-14; Psalm 105; John 5:31-47
The people, in the reading from the book of Exodus, have turned against God and God is about to punish them. Moses, however, pleads on their behalf and reminds God of the covenant he made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Psalm tells of the sins of the people and for which God was about to deal harshly with them. Jesus is speaking to the Jews in the gospel text and telling them that if they truly believed in Moses then they would believe in him too. The authorities had become too set in their ways to realise in whose presence they stood. They had shut their eyes and ears to the truth. We are challenged today to really look at our own lives and ask ourselves if we have shut ourselves off to the real Jesus. If we have shut ourselves off from him then we need to resolve to do something about it today, rather than waiting until tomorrow.

Friday 31:            Of the Fourth Week of Lent
Wisdom 2:1, 12-22; Psalm 33; John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30
The reading from the Book of Wisdom is prophetic in that it speaks of the death of the virtuous man – which we can understand as being the death of Jesus. Everything that is said in it speaks of Jesus and how the people did not wish to follow him because his way was different and challenging and he pointed out their sins and transgressions. The gospel continues this story and we see that some of the people have decided to be rid of Jesus. Jesus tells us that he came not for himself but for God and for his people. He came not just to tell us about God but to show us God. We too should make every effort to get to know God personally and not just talk about him.

Saturday 1:          Of the Fourth Week of Lent
Jeremiah 11:18-20; Psalm 7; John 7:40-53
The Prophet Jeremiah in our first reading speaks of the innocent man being led to the slaughter house like a lamb. Yet the just man continues to trust in God and in his help just as Jesus did as he faced his own death. In the gospel, we are coming nearer to the arrest and Passion of Christ. The authorities have now decided to be rid of Jesus and are seeking the moment to seize him. One of the Pharisees – Nicodemus – speaks up and says that Christ deserves a trial under the Law. The Pharisees regard themselves as the only ones who know the Law and want to act as they see fit and tell the people what to do and believe. The question before us today is whether we are open to the message of Christ, which should change our lives every day, or will we be like the authorities who wanted to protect their comfortable existence and so continue in our imperfect ways.

Memorials this Week:

© 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.

Direct from the publishers: Columba Press

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