4th Sunday of the Year (a)

Ordinary Time of the Year. (a) 

Sunday 2nd February:  The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.  (a)

            Today is one of the rare occasions when a Feast, in this case the Presentation of the Lord, takes precedence over the Ordinary Sundays of the Year.

            This is a Feast both of Jesus and of his Mother, Mary.  We commemorate the presentation of Jesus in the temple forty days after his birth ‘in accordance with the law of Moses.’  The Presentation shows us the obedience of Jesus, Mary and Joseph to the law of God given to Israel.  The feast is also known as Candlemas when traditionally new candles to be used in the Church’s liturgy, are blessed.

Monday 3rd February:           Weekday of Week 4 of the Year.

            One of David’s two sons tries to overthrow David and destroy him.  So  David flees from Jerusalem, humiliated at his son’s efforts.

            In the Gospel we have the bizarre story of the demons and the pigs.  It is a story to stress and highlight the power of Jesus and that it is without limit.

Tuesday 4th February:            Weekday of Week 4 of the Year.    

            The rebellion of Absolom, David’s son, is defeated. David tries to be generous in victory but his troops disobey his orders and kill Absolom. The reading presents David, grieving over the death of his son.       

            The Gospel presents us with two scenes which show the results of faith in the healing power of Jesus.  Both the woman and Jairus show this in their approaches to Jesus for help and healing.

Wednesday 5th  February:     Memorial of St. Agatha.

            Agatha suffered martyrdom at Catania in Sicily in the year 250.  She refused marriage so that she could give all her time to caring for the sick and the poor.  Even the threats and torture inflicted on her could not sway and she was martyred.It is believed that through her intercession, Catania was saved from an eruption of Mount Etna.  As a result, she is invoked against any outbreak of fire.   

Thursday 6th February:                   Memorial of St. Paul Miki and his Companions.

           St. Frances Xavier had brought Christianity to Japan about 1549.  By 1587, there were said to be over two hundred Christians but at this stage, the emperor ordered all missionaries to leave the country, afraid of their growing influence.  Some stayed behind in disguise. In 1597, 26 Christians, mostly Japanese were crucified in different ways over a period of time.  The group was made up of 6 Franciscans, 3 Japanese catechists, Including Paul Miki) and 17 Japanese lay people. Paul Miki was highborn Japanese and an eminent Jesuit preacher. He prayed for the conversion of his executioners and forgave them.

Friday 7th February:              Friday of Week 4 of the Year.

            Today’s reading is a great hymn of praise in honour of King David.  His sins are forgiven and he was given a lasting royal covenant.

            We switch to the story of the beheading of John the Baptist in the Gospel despite Herod’s awe of him.  It foreshadows Jesus’ death.

Saturday 8th February:                    Saturday of Week 4 of the Year.

            We move to the first Book of the Kings  which deals with David’s dynasty, starting with Solomon and his reign. The country is at peace.  He built the Temple and was rewarded by God’s asking him for anything we wanted.  Solomon asks for the gift discerning heart to help him distinguish good from eveil.

            The disciples, in the Gospel, try to find a quiet place to go away and reflect on the events leading to the death of John the Baptist.  Jesus treats the crowds who follow with compassion and begins to teach them  He describes them as being like a sheep without a shepherd.