Scripture Readings for Mass
(Liturgical Calendar for Ireland 2018)

19 October. Friday, Week 28

Saints John de Brebeuf and Isaac Jogues; St Paul of the Cross, priest.

1st Reading Ephesians 1:11-14

We are sealed with the Holy Spirit, the down-payment God has made to his people

In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God's own people, to the praise of his glory.

Gospel: Luke 12:1-7

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot crush your soul

Meanwhile, when the crowd gathered by the thousands, so that they trampled on one another, he began to speak first to his disciples, "Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, that is, their hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops.

"I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God's sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.


God's Chosen Ones

At our personal centre is an inner dignity that surpasses any good works we do and puts us at ease before God, already enjoying his gift of peace. That's how today's reading from Ephesians sees us, as having received something like a "down payment" or "first instalment" of eternal life, just as a pregnant woman already possesses new life, unborn, within her. She has the assurance, but must wait for the birth. She holds the future child, but is still guessing what it will be like. In Ephesians we are said to be "sealed with the Holy Spirit," the pledge of our inheritance. Paul can offer no logical explanation for the gift, except that we were "chosen, predestined" by our loving God. We were loved before we loved in return, we were carefully chosen to be God's very own people. Our life is meant to be lived in praise to God's glory. If our entire life and its growth and fulfilment are due entirely to God, how free and uninhibited we can be.

The exuberance and liberty of spirit is also in today's gospel. What was said in the dark we are to proclaim from rooftops. If our merciful God is concerned about sparrows and the small details of creation, then we need fear nothing. "You are more precious than a whole flock of sparrows." Justification by faith in this God liberates us more than from the law. It makes us free, confident and already part-way to heaven.

More than many sparrows

The ending of today's gospel makes a key statement about God. The sparrow was the smallest bird of Jesus' time and place and it was the cheapest bird to purchase in the market place. Yet, Jesus declares that not one sparrow is forgotten in God's sight. God is someone aware of even the smallest and least significant of nature's creatures. Jesus' real focus, however, is not so much on sparrows but on his disciples, men and women like you and me. He argues that if the humble sparrow is known to God and cared for by God, how much more are we known to and cared for by God, as we are each worth more than hundreds of sparrows.

God is concerned with the details of his creation, and with the details of our lives. On the one hand God is transcendent, and deserves reverence and awe, or what the gospel refers to as 'the fear of God.' 'Fear him who has the power to cast into hell.' Yet, on the other hand, Jesus assures us that God is Abba-Father profoundly close to us and caring for the details of our lives. If that is so, we can bring our lives to God with childlike trust. We can trust ourselves to God knowing we will be received as treasured and full of worth.


Saints John de Brebeuf, Isaac Jogues and companions, martyrs

Jean de Brébeuf (1593-1649) was a French Jesuit missionary who went to New France (Canada) in 1625 and worked primarily with the Huron for the rest of his life, having learned their language and culture. In an Iroquois raid the missionaries were captured, ritually tortured and martyred on March 16, 1649. Isaac Jogues (1607-1646) was a Jesuit priest, missionary and martyr who worked in 17th century North America. He was martyred by the Mohawk in present-day New York state.

Saint Paul of the Cross, priest

Paolo Francesco Danei (1694-1775), from Ovada, Piedmont, northern Italy, the second of sixteen children, only six of whom survived infancy, was from an early age aware of the reality of death and suffering. After an early education from a priest who kept a school for boys, by age fifteen he left school and for a time taught catechism in churches near his home. He had a conversion to a life of prayer at the age of 19 and his prayer focussed on the Passion of Christ. At age 26 he felt drawn to form a community of evangelical life, promoting the love of God as revealed in the Passion of Jesus. This later came to be known as the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ, or the Passionists, and Paul was their first superior general. He was one of the most popular preachers of his day, conducting parish missions in many parts of Italy. Many of his letters, most of them of spiritual direction, have been preserved. He died in Rome at the Retreat of Saints John and Paul (SS. Giovanni e Paolo) and was canonised in 1867.