Biblical Readings for each day's Mass,
(as listed in the Liturgical Calendar for Ireland, 2018)

20 August. Monday, Week 20

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

1st Reading: Ezekiel 28:1-10

God warns the wealthy seaport metropolis of Tyre to beware of pride

The word of the Lord came to me: "Mortal, say to the prince of Tyre, 'Thus says the Lord God: Because your heart is proud and you have said, I am a god; I sit in the seat of the gods, in the heart of the seas, yet you are but a mortal, and no god, though you compare your mind with the mind of a god. You are indeed wiser than Daniel; no secret is hidden from you; by your wisdom and your understanding you have amassed wealth for yourself, and have gathered gold and silver into your treasuries. By your great wisdom in trade you have increased your wealth, and your heart has become proud in your wealth.'"

Therefore thus says the Lord God: "Because you compare your mind with the mind of a god, therefore, I will bring strangers against you, the most terrible of the nations; they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom and defile your splendour. They shall thrust you down to the Pit, and you shall die a violent death in the heart of the seas. Will you still say, I am a god, in the presence of those who kill you, though you are but a mortal, and no god, in the hands of those who wound you? You shall die the death of the uncircumcised by the hand of foreigners; for I have spoken," says the Lord God.

Responsorial (from Deuteronomy 32)

Response: You have forgotten God who gave you birth

You were unmindful of the Rock that begot you.
  You forgot the God who gave you birth.
When the Lord saw this, he was filled with loathing
  and anger toward his sons and daughters. (R./)

I will hide my face from them, he said,
  and see what will then become of them.
What a fickle race they are,
  children with no loyalty in them!

Since they have provoked me with what is no god
  and angered me with their vain idols,
I will provoke them with what is no people;
  with a foolish nation I will anger them. (R./)

Gospel: Matthew 19:23-30

Selfish privilege can destroy us; for the last shall be first

Jesus said to his disciples, "Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. " When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, "Then who can be saved?" But Jesus looked at them and said, "For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible."

Then Peter said in reply, "Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?" Jesus said to them, "Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.


The hard road

Ezekiel is ordered not to mourn publicly the death of his wife. She is described by the endearing phrase, "the delight of your eyes." People are amazed that on the day after her death Ezekiel proceeds with life as usual. They ask him: Will you not tell us what all these things that you are doing mean for us? He replies that the people shall not mourn or weep, perhaps because of sheer exhaustion after the long siege and its horrifying experience, when God "will desecrate my sanctuary, the stronghold of your pride, the delight of your eyes, the desire of your soul." As we accept the inevitable as God's mysterious providence, we get the strength to begin over again. Ezekiel 24 marks the end of the first major period, up to the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.

In the gospel Jesus asks us to make the best use of our gifts, talents and assets, by sharing them with others. Everyone is called to this positive, generous interaction; and some may even be called literally to give up everything and to own nothing for the sake of the kingdom. Sooner or later all are asked to share of our best. We are being led deeply into the mystery of the kingdom where actions are not judged by worldly wisdom but by the instincts of faith.

What more need I do?

Here we have the story of a good man who wanted to be better. He had kept all the commandments of the Jewish Law faithfully, but he had a sense that this was not enough. He felt called to something more, and, so, he said to Jesus, "What more do I need to do?" We might find ourselves being able to identify with this man. There are times in our lives when we too might experience in ourselves a strong desire to go beyond where we are, to grow in our relationship with the Lord, to be more generous in the doing of his work. In one shape or form we find ourselves asking ourselves this man's question, "What more do I need to do?"

But this man could not live with the answer that Jesus gave to his question. Jesus asked this particular man to do something he didn't ask everybody to do. He was to sell his possession, give his money to the poor and then to set out along the road after Jesus, as Peter, Andrew, James, John and others had done. One of the saddest verses in the gospels comes at the end of our reading, "when the young man heard these words he went away sad." If we ask the Lord the young man's question we cannot anticipate how the Lord will answer us. Yet, the Lord has some purpose for our lives which will always take us beyond where we are in some sense. We find our happiness in yielding to the Lord's purpose for our lives. If we do so, we can be assured that he will give us all the grace and strength we need for the journey.

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, abbot and doctor of the Church

Bernard (1090-1153) from Burgundy in France, was a monk and the primary builder of the reforming Cistercian order. With several of his brothers, he founded an abbey at Clairvaux which became inspirational for monastic reform in the 12th century. A great biblical student, preacher and devotee of the Virgin Mary, he was advisor to popes and crusaders and sought the unity of Christendom. At the Council of Troyes (1129) he helped to formulate the rule of the Knights Templar, who became the ideal of Christian nobility.