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

21 November. Wednesday, Week 33

The Presentation of the BVM. Memorial

1st Reading: Zechariah 2:14-17

Rejoice, for God will come and dwell in your midst

Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! For lo, I will come and dwell in your midst, says the Lord. Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord on that day, and shall be my people; and I will dwell in your midst. And you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you.

The Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem. Be silent, all people, before the Lord; for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.

Responsorial (from Luke 1: 46-55)

Resp.: The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.

My soul glorifies the Lord,
  my spirit rejoices in God, my saviour. (R./)

He looks on his servant in her nothingness;
  henceforth all ages will call me blessed.
The Almighty works marvels for me.
  Holy his name! (R./)

His mercy is from age to age,
  on those who fear him.
He puts forth his arm in strength
  and scatters the proud-hearted. (R./)

He casts the mighty from their thrones
  and raises the lowly.
He fills the starving with good things,
  sends the rich away empty. (R./)

He protects Israel, his servant,
  remembering his mercy,
the mercy promised to our fathers,
  to Abraham and his sons for ever. (R./)

Gospel: Matthew 12:46-50

The real family of Jesus are those who take his Gospel to their heart

While Jesus was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, "Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you." But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" And pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."


Ready for his return

The visionary in Revelation shares his religious experiences in symbols like the roar of many waters, the flashing of thunder and the flaming of torches. All of us have had some significant religious experience: the joy of our first communion, and later perhaps decisions to be of service to others, moments when God seemed especially near, moments of peace after sorrow of loss. Sometimes we have tasted a particular sense of God's closeness to us; at other times we have sensed the wonder of God through the beauty of nature. Later, if things seem to be falling apart through severe misfortune or sadness, we can recall those moments of joyful awareness— and hope for their return.

In the parable, Jesus could be alluding to a king who was well-known in Israel, Herod the Great, who had to flee for his life from Jerusalem, then made his way to Rome and charmed the emperor into naming him king of Israel, and then returned to Palestine to take over. The parable warns us that the king will return, and therefore we must be prudent and loyal, industrious and honest, for one day we will be called to answer for our use of time and talents. "Use it or lose it" is a phrase that applies to our human potential. We can paraphrase Jesus' words, "Whoever puts their talents to the service of others will be given more; but the one who has nothing he is willing to share will lose the little that he has."

The last bit of the parable, about the king's having his enemies killed in his presence, is rather baffling. It may simply be a memory of what king Herod actually did to his enemies on his return from exile. It can hardly be Jesus portraying a vengeful God, for his central teaching is about God's power and goodness. The faith he teaches is always towards a God whom we can call upon as "Abba, Father!"

His first and second coming

Immediately after speaking this parable, Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem on a colt, to the cries of 'Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.' Jesus' imminent entry into the city of Jerusalem led some of his followers to believe that the kingdom of God would soon come in all its fullness. Jesus speaks this parable to counter the expectation that the full arrival of God's kingdom was imminent. The parable suggests, rather, that there would be a long interval between Jesus' enthronement as king at his resurrection and his return at the end of time in power and glory. This long interval is a time of opportunity for creative service of others, a time to use the gifts and resources we have been given in doing the Lord's work. One of the servants to whom the master in the parable entrusted resources did nothing with what he had been given, because of fear. Fear left him paralyzed, held him back. It is striking the number of times Jesus says 'Do not be afraid.' Jesus was very aware how fear can prevent people from responding to his call. The opposite of faith in the gospels is not so much unbelief but fear. When we rise above our fears in response to the Lord's call, we make it easier for others to do the same. We encourage each other—we give each other courage—by being courageous ourselves.