Please note: two reflections are given below, each based on the First Reading or Responsorial Psalm of the day. The Year I readings apply to years ending in an odd number (for example, 2023), while the Year II readings apply to years ending in an even number, such as 2024. The Gospel Reading is the same in both years.
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Monday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time [I]
I Maccabees 1:10-15,41-43,54-57,62-63 + Luke 18:35-43
Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, each abandoning his particular customs.
At this week’s Masses, the First Reading is taken from the Old Testament books of Maccabees. These books describe the persecution and perseverance of the Jewish people. While the particular persecution that they faced may not seem easy to relate to, we need today to relate to the perseverance that they demonstrated.
In today’s First Reading, the king of Greece “wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, each abandoning his particular customs. All the Gentiles conformed to the command of the king, and many children of Israel were in favor of his religion”. The parallel of this situation to the plight of Christians in the United States today is clear.
Today’s passage ends focusing on those Jews “who preferred to die rather than to be defiled… and they did die. Terrible affliction was upon Israel.” But we ought to be clear on what leads to this affliction: the demand for a people to be falsely united.
To what extent may a government demand that a religious body of persons conform their teachings, practices and rituals to a norm established by and in support of that government? The conflicts in this week’s readings from the Books of Maccabees will help us reflect on this important question.
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Monday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time [II]
Revelation 1:1-4;2:1-5 + Luke 18:35-43
When they saw this, all the people gave praise to God.
Today we begin hearing at weekday Mass from the Book of Revelation. We will continue to hear from this book through the last day of the Church year. This is fitting since Revelation is the last book of the Bible, and treats of the “Last Things”, although in a highly mysterious manner.
The Book of Revelation is literally the book of the “revelation of Jesus Christ” to the Beloved Disciple. In turn, this same Saint John “gives witness to the word of God”, the same Word of God of whom John wrote in the prologue of his Gospel account. Given the mysterious manner in which the Book of Revelation is recorded, the link between these two books of the New Testament is important to keep in mind as one reflects on John’s “witness to the word of God”.
Also, the evangelist calls this witness a “prophetic message”. As such, we note a correspondence between the structure of the Old and New Testaments. In each Testament, there are four types of books. In both testaments, the fourth type of book is prophetic. The Old Testament contains eighteen books of prophecy, but the New Testament contains only the Book of Revelation. All books of prophecy look to the future: those in the Old Testament to the first coming of God’s Word made Flesh, but the Book of Revelation to His Second Coming, as well as to His becoming Flesh and dwelling among us in the Holy Eucharist.