Please note: two reflections are given below, each based on the First Reading and/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.
Monday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time [I]
Genesis 1:1-19 + Mark 6:53-56
God saw how good it was.
In today’s First Reading the Church proclaims the first nineteen verses of the Bible. The Church proclaims the First Reading at weekday Mass from Genesis for almost two weeks during Ordinary Time: this week and next. Today and tomorrow the First Readings present the narrative of God’s six days of creation, and His rest on the seventh.
Today’s Responsorial is a commentary on the First Reading. To some degree, this psalm repeats what we hear in Genesis 1:1-19. But the psalm also does more. The Responsorial’s refrain points to this something “more”.
“May the Lord be glad in His works.” Regarding each of the created works of the first, third and fourth days, “God saw how good it was.” Within the narrative of God’s work of Creation, this sentence serves as a refrain, repeated over and over.
But today’s Responsorial refrain adds something more. To God’s “seeing” the goodness of creation, the psalm refrain points to the Lord being glad in His works. This “being glad” (the Latin Vulgate uses the verb ‘laetare’, meaning ‘to rejoice’) tells us something about God Himself, and likewise about us who are created in His Image and likeness. Indeed, we can imagine that God’s “rest” on the seventh day was not some sort of “Sunday afternoon nap”, but a “day long” rejoicing in the works He worked by His divine Word.
Monday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time [II]
I Kings 8:1-7,9-13 + Mark 6:53-56
Lord, go up to the place of your rest!
Today’s Responsorial Psalm comes from the first half of Psalm 132. The refrain—“Lord, go up to the place of your rest!”—sounds like a strange thing to say to the Almighty. Why does the Lord need us to tell Him where to go? For that matter, why does the Lord need to go to a place of rest? We need to reflect, then, on a broader point: that is, what is the broader context for this refrain?
Within the setting of the Old Testament, we could imagine this refrain verse being spoken during the Exodus or one of the exiles from the Holy Land. In these settings, the place of the Lord’s rest would refer to His final “resting place” on earth: the Temple in Jerusalem. It’s there that the priests enter to offer right worship to the Lord, according to the dictates of His Law. Within this setting we can certainly interpret Psalm 132 according to the original meaning of the human author.
In a further sense, however, we listen to Psalm 132 in terms of its fulfillment in Christ. The Lord is Jesus, who entered our fallen world for us men and our salvation. This psalm, then, speaks to the Ascension of the Lord as the completion of the Incarnate Word’s earthly mission. Our own share in this rest is what we await beyond death, although even now in the sanctuary of the Living God, in the right worship of the Eucharist we may share in the rest of His Real Presence.