Readings for August 22-27 2011
For this week the 21st Week of Ordinary Time Year 1, our lectio cursiva will continue with Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. The Gospel readings from Matthew begins with Jesus’ denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees (Monday and Tuesday), the parable of the wise and faithful steward (Thursday), the parable of the ten virgins (Friday) and the parable of the talents (Saturday). The memorials of the Queenship of Mary and of St. Monica will not be disturbing the lectionary’s daily offerings. But the feast of St. Bartholomew which falls this year on Wednesday will call our attention to the sanctoral readings for that day.
Monday, August 22 2011
Today we celebrate the memorial of the Queenship of Mary.
The twenty-first week of Ordinary Time (Year I) begins with a reading of Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. Today, we read the beginning of the letter, the address (1) and Paul’s "captatio" where he tells the Thessalonians how he and his companions remember them in his prayers. In verses 2-10, Paul actually gives us, his readers, an idea of how the Thessalonians were at the time when he wrote the letter. The life of the community of faith manifests how they have received the gospel proclaimed by Paul and how they are making it grow. They have a faith that is alive — it is shown in the industry of their love and their active hope (3).
The gospel reading continues Jesus’ denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees — they who have succeeded Moses as teachers (Matthew 23:2). Today and tomorrow we will be reading vv. 13-26, but the denunciation actually continues until v. 38 with the concluding lament on Jerusalem (vv. 37-38). The denunciation is marked by the statements beginning with "Woe" (22.214.171.124. 27. 29) interspersed with Jesus’ naming them "frauds" (14. 15. 23. 25. 27. 29) and "blind" (16. 17. 19. 24). Jesus’ denunciation reaches a crescendo when he calls the Pharisees and scribes "Brood of vipers" and "vipers’ net", associating them with the Great Serpent, the Devil (see v. 33)
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
The selection from 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8 is — for readers of the 21st century — a biographical sketch of Paul at the time when he first came to the Thessalonians. He and Silas had been imprisoned in Philippi (Acts 16:24) but were released shortly after an earthquake that they survived (vv. 25-40). This was the "humiliation" he experienced in Philippi. From there he went to Thessalonica where, again, he met with opposition although he did make conversions (Act. 17:1-8). Those Jews and Greeks "sympathetic to Judaism" and "numerous prominent women" who "threw in their lot with Paul and Silas" (v. 4) were the ones who are now being addressed by Paul.
The gospel selection continues the denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees whose external religiosity has made them forget the more important aspects of the Law: justice, mercy and fidelity. Their religiosity is external; they cleanse the outside but forget what is more important, the inner qualities of authentic Mosaic observance.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Bartholomew a.k.a. Nathanael. Read the article: Feast of St. Bartholomew
Thursday, August 25 2011
We jump to the conclusion of Paul’s thanksgiving for the Thessalonians. Immediately preceding the selection is Paul’s recollection of Timothy’s report about the Thessalonians and how much they desire that Paul visit them (1 Thessalonians 3:6-7). And so Paul, giving a hint of an intended visit (v. 10-11), expresses his wish that the Thessalonians continue to grow in faith and love until the coming of the Lord (11-13).
Matthew 24:42-51 is the ethical consequence of the coming Day of the Lord (24:1-41). "Stay awake" (v. 42) — this is the characteristic lifestyle of disciples who, as faithful servants, wait for the Coming of the Lord. Notice that Jesus does not tell his disciples to run for cover. He tells them instead to stay in the work entrusted to them. The faithful and wise steward is the one whom his Lord will find doing the job entrusted to him.
Friday, August 26 2011
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 is the beginning of the moral section of Paul’s letter. The Thessalonians are to keep the instructions given by the apostle. The word "sanctification" appears in vv. 3 and 7. It is the word that describes the vocation of Christians. Today, we call this the common vocation to holiness. God alone is "holy", but those whom He has associated to be with Him in His household — such as the Thessalonians — are also called to become holy, to become "sanctus". The last phrase (v. 8) is a warning: Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not a human being but God, who also gives his Holy Spirit to you".
Matthew 25:1-13 is the parable about ten virgins, five wise and five foolish. The mention of the lamp that needs to be kept lighted until the coming of the Lord is associated with the candles that are lighted in baptism.
Saturday, August 27 2011
Today we commemorate St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine of Hippo.
1 Thessalonians 4:9 may sound strange for those who think that something as sublime as love can only be learned from Scriptures. The fact is that God has written His law in the hearts of men even before He had His law written on tablets of stone. Paul refers to this interior "book", written in the hearts of men. The Catechism of the Catholic Church identifies this with conscience. One characteristic therefore of the Thessalonian community is their warmth and love for the brothers. But Paul continues to encourage them to do better — "to progress even more". The Christian life does not give room for complacency. It is like going up a mountain — one cannot stop and risk to fall down. One must go on until one reaches the top of the mountain.
Matthew 25:14-30 is Jesus’ parable of the talents and continues the lessons from the wise and faithful steward and the wise virgins. The servants of the Lord no matter how many talents they have received as trust should cultivate them and make them yield fruits. The servant who hides the talent and does not invest it will lose even the little he has.
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