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

23 October. Tuesday, Week 29

St John of Capistrano, priest, opt.mem.

1st Reading: Ephesians 5:21-33

Love between spouses mirrors Christ's love for the church

Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Saviour. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendour, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind, yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, because we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband.

Responsorial Psalm (from Ps 85)

Response: The Lord speaks of peace to his people.

I will hear what the Lord God has to say,
a voice that speaks of peace.
His help is near for those who fear him
and his glory will dwell in our land. (R./)

Mercy and faithfulness have met;
justice and peace have embraced.
Faithfulness shall spring from the earth
and justice look down from heaven. (R./)

The Lord will make us prosper
and our earth shall yield its fruit.
Justice shall march before him
and peace shall follow his steps. (R./)

Gospel: Luke 13:18-21

The reign of God is like a mustard seed… or yeast

He said therefore, "What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches."

And again he said, "To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened."


No longer masters and servants, but an equal-dignity human family

By the time of writing his gospel, somewhere in the 80's of the first Christian century, Luke and most other members of the church were no longer obsessed with the idea that Jesus would return in glory any day soon. Awaiting the Day of the Lord was no longer keeping them awake at night! As with the Our Father, Luke thinks of the daily presence of Jesus in our neighbour and in daily events. We must be waiting, always ready to open the door of our heart, and of our possessions, whenever Jesus comes knocking. Whatever happens anytime, anywhere, must be received as though Jesus were here in person.

On a small but significant point, Jesus overturns normal custom and sets us to think about our own approach to authority and service. Normally, when a master returned home, his servants waited on him. But now the reverse is to happen: The master will get the servants to sit at table, and proceed to wait on them! When we are focussed on faithfully doing our service to Christ in others, it is we ourselves who ultimately benefit. When we try to be of service to others, it is they who heap good gifts on us.

Ephesians has a great, mystical vision of God's grace in our lives: Our lives, like Christ's, are to be a sacred sacrifice. Our bodies are built into a "temple,.. a dwelling place for God in the Spirit." Perhaps the greatest gift will come through our realization that our family extends to many brothers and sisters. "You are strangers and aliens no longer. You are fellow citizens of the saints and members of God's household."

Waiting on the staff

In today's gospel parable, we have the strange image of the master of a household putting on an apron, sitting his slaves down at table and then waiting on them. The kind of picture Jesus was painting there had no place in the culture in which he and his disciples lived. Yet, the picture in the parable that Jesus speaks there does put us in mind of the scene in John's gospel where Jesus puts a towel around himself and washes the feet of his disciples. The Lord, it seems, wants to serve us; the Lord wants to be our servant. Normally, the role of Lord and the role of servant are at opposite ends of a spectrum, but in Jesus they are combined.

In the parable, the master's kindly service is in response to the staff's faithfulness and vigilance. The Lord who serves us looks to us to be faithful and vigilant, so that we are ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks. We are reminded of that saying of the risen Lord in the Book of Revelation, "behold, I stand at the door and knock." The Lord is always knocking at the door of our lives; he comes and knocks every day. If we respond to his daily coming, today's gospel assures us that he will be our servant in ways that will surprise us.


Saint John of Capistrano, priest

Giovanni of Capestrano (1386-1456) was a Franciscan friar from the Abruzzo, Italy. An active preacher, theologian, and inquisitor, he earned himself the nickname "Soldier Saint" when aged 70 he led a crusade against the invading Ottoman Empire at the siege of Belgrade. He died later that year in Villach, Austria.