Daily Readings for Mass.
(Liturgical Calendar for Ireland, 2019)

01 March: Friday, Week 7

1st Reading: Sirach 6:5-17

Let your friends be tried and trusted. A faithful friend is a tonic

Pleasant speech multiplies friends,
  and a gracious tongue multiplies courtesies.
Let those who are friendly with you be many,
  but let your advisers be one in a thousand.

When you gain friends, gain them through testing,
  and do not trust them hastily.
For there are friends who are such when it suits them,
  but they will not stand by you in time of trouble.

And there are friends who change into enemies,
  and tell of the quarrel to your disgrace.
  And there are friends who sit at your table,
  but they will not stand by you in time of trouble.

When you are prosperous, they become your second self,
  and lord it over your servants;
  but if you are brought low, they turn against you,
  and hide themselves from you.

Keep away from your enemies,
  and be on guard with your friends.

Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter:
  whoever finds one has found a treasure.
Faithful friends are beyond price;
  no amount can balance their worth.

Faithful friends are life-saving medicine;
  and those who fear the Lord will find them.
Those who fear the Lord direct their friendship aright,
  for as they are, so are their neighbours also. (R./)

Responsorial:
Psalm 118:12, 16, 18, 27, 34-35

Response: Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands

Blessed are you, O Lord;
  teach me your statutes.
  I take delight in your statutes;
  I will not forget your word. (R./)

Open my eyes that I may consider
  the wonders of your law.
  Make me grasp the way of your precepts
  and I will muse on your wonders. (R./)

Train me to observe your law,
  to keep it with my heart.
Guide me in the path of your commands
  for there is my delight. (R./)

Gospel: Mark 10:1-12

Jesus' condemnation of divorce and remarriage

Jesus left that place and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan. And crowds again gathered around him; and, as was his custom, he again taught them.

Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" He answered them, "What did Moses command you?" They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her." But Jesus said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.' 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let nobody separate."

Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."

BIBLE

Marriage and Friendship

Though we be friendly with many, only one in a thousand should be our close confidant, or our partner in life. A quality of either friendship or marriage highlighted in today's scripture is the need to persevere in it. Sirach opens his mini-essay on friendship with this advice: A kind mouth multiplies friends, and gracious lips prompt friendly greetings. We begin with a smile; our first communication, imparted intuitively, is one of interior joy and peace, showing that we are at peace with ourselves and with God. His well tested wisdom is put to the service of the students in his Jerusalem school, who "take up lodging in the house of instruction" (Sir 51:23). His guidance is both peaceful and cautious, for he counsels: "When you gain a friend, first test him, and don't be too ready to trust him." He proceeds to give the positive qualities of a true friend, who will be like "your other self; a treasure beyond price; a sturdy shelter a life-saving remedy."

For most people, the true friend, the "treasure... beyond price," is one's spouse, since moving on from friendship to marriage is part of most people's life-plan. Much can be lost by simply giving up, and abandoning a love we have pledged. Such a break can be called "adultery," and is not what God intended as the ideal of marriage. "The two shall become as one... let nobody separate what God has joined." Just as Sirach advised not to commit too quickly to a friendship, so our Gospel urges spouses to sustain the union that God has blessed.


Friendship, the elixir of life

Sirach has a lovely phrase about friendship, "A faithful friend is the elixir of life." He is confident that those who fear the Lord will find a faithful friend. In other words, when we relate well to the Lord we will find the right kind of friends, ones we can rely on. When our relationship with the Lord is right it helps us to form good human relationships, marked by faithfulness and generosity.

Jesus praises a special kind of friendship, that between a husband and wife in marriage. His teaching on the bond of marriage matches the vision of friendship in the reading from Sirach, a partnerwhip between a man and a woman, faithful to each other for life, committed to a deeply unifying love. Whether married or single, we are all called to build faithful friendships that mirror the Lord's faithful love and in turn reveal to others that faithful love of the Lord.


CANDLE

Saint David, bishop

David (c. 500-589), from Pembrokeshire, Wales, at an early age opted for an ascetical life of monastic simplicity, then became bishop of Mynyw (now St Davids) . Popular devotion later later declared him a saint. He is the patron saint of Wales.


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