Biblical Readings for each day's Mass,
(for the Liturgical Year 2020)

09 September, 2020
Wednesday, Week 23

Saint Ciaran, abbot (Memorial)

1st Reading: 1 Corinthians 7:25-31

Christians are free to marry or not, but remember anyway that this world is passing

About the unmarried, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy. I think that in view of the present distress it is well for a person to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek marriage. But if you marry, you do not sin, and if a girl marries she does not sin. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. I mean, brethren, the appointed time has grown very short; from now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the form of this world is passing away.

Responsorial: from Psalm 45

Response: Listen, o daughter, give ear to my words

Listen, o daughter, give ear to my words
 forget your people and your father's house.
So shall the king desire your beauty;
 for he is your lord, and you must worship him. (R./)

All glorious is the king's daughter as she enters;
 her raiment is threaded with spun gold.
 In embroidered apparel she is borne in to the king;
 behind her the virgins of her train are brought to you. (R./)

They are borne in with gladness and joy;
 they enter the palace of the king.
The place of your fathers your sons shall have;
 you shall make them princes through all the land. (R./)

Gospel: Luke 6:20-26

The Beatitudes of Jesus, here spoken on "level ground" to a large crowd

Jesus looked up at his disciples and said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. "Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. "Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh."Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.

"But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. "Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. "Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. "Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

BIBLE

May your words, O Lord, be in my thoughts, on my lips, and in my heart. May they be my guide on life's journey and keep me near to you.

Blessings

Luke's summary of the Beatitudes is more direct than Matthew's more generalised version. In Luke, Jesus speaks directly to the crowds in the valley, in the form "Blessed are you, who are poor." Matthew has a longer version of the same basic sermon, addressed to disciples who had followed Jesus up the mountain, and are phrased in the third person, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the reign of God is theirs." Luke has Jesus coming down the mountain to deliver his message on a level place where a large crowd has gathered.

Luke's Beatitudes may be closer to Jesus' original words, not a general, catechetical discourse but addressed specifically and immediately to his hearers: "you poor" and "you who hunger." It seems that God achieves more with our poverty than with our wealth, more with our faith than with our activity. Poverty and faith have an easier access to God. Wealth and status can close our heart or even weigh us down with anxieties.

To the Corinthians Paul admits that on the matter of celibacy he has no commandment from the Lord. He offers reflections on the options open to us. He advises people not to rush into marriage; but neither should they to remain single merely as a way to avoid responsibility. And whether married or single, one should not be overly possessive. Husbands and wives are not related as owners of each other but as baptised believers, united in the Lord. This union transcends all difference of gender and underpins their radical equality of value and dignity.


Unrealistic ideals?

The beatitudes sound strange to our ears. Jesus declares blessed and happy the poor, the hungry and those who weep, whereas he declares unfortunate the rich and those who have their fill of everything. Those sentiments seem to go against common sense. They jar with how we normally see life and forces us to rethink our values. God shows special favour to the distressed and vulnerable. This is why Jesus calls this group blessed, because God wants to change their situation. Our vulnerability creates an opening for God to work in our lives.

Isn't it true that we often seek God more earnestly when our need is greater, whether in our individual or communal need. We come before the Lord in our poverty, our hunger, our sadness because it is above all in those times that we realize that we are not self-sufficient. In Luke's gospel, from which our reading is taken, as Jesus hung from the cross one of the criminals alongside him said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." To this hopeless man Jesus said, "today, you will be with me in paradise." It is when we are at our weakest that grace is at its strongest.


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