5th Sunday of the Year. (a)
This Week’s Liturgy Calendar.
Ordinary Cycle of the Year (a)
Weekdays – Year 1.
Sunday 5th February: Fifth Sunday of the Year (a)
In their dark days of oppression and deportation, the people of Israel are reminded that God will be near to them and they, in turn, will shine with his light if they are near to the needy around them.
St Paul reflects on his mission. It is not by philosophizing and making speeches that he preaches Christ but by bearing witness to the crucified Lord. We are called to do the same in our time and place. The success of the Gospel, however, doesn’t depend on human cleverness but on the power of God.
According to Jesus, our task in the world is to live according to the Gospel so that God’s light can shine in our world.
Monday 6th February: St. Paul Miki & 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.
Tuesday 7th February: Tuesday of 5th week of the year
We begin reading from the Book of Genesis, the first book in the Bible. It consists of various traditions, which were passed from one generation to the next and were eventually written down. They were stories with a special significance – each had a specific message about God. The people at that time had no interest in how things happened in the past.
We begin with extracts from the creation story. God is portrayed as being all-powerful. We are expected to acknowledge his greatness and to set one day of the week to do this. In the Gospel, we hear how the Pharisees and some of the scribes were critical of the fact that Jesus did not observe some of the various purification rites. He reminds them of the need for sincerity and of the need for a pure heart.
Wednesday 8th February: Wednesday of 5th week of the year.
The ordinary weekday readings come from the Book of Genesis. The authors work their way through the story of creation. Today it reaches the creation of man in the image and likeness of God. He is a special part of creation, its summit. He was given many gifts and at this stage does not know evil.
Jesus continues his discourse on inner purity. What comes from the heart is either good or evil. Its implications were only gradually realised by the early Christian communities.
Thursday 9th February: Thursday of 5th week of the year.
Genesis continues with the story of creation and, in particular, the creation of woman. It stresses that woman is equal to man. She is worthy to share his life with him. It is God’s will that one man and one woman should form a partnership that would be lifelong and exclusive.
The Gospel stresses that the gift of faith is not restricted to the Jewish people. It highlights the tension that existed in the early Church between Jew and Gentile and what was required of both to become followers of Jesus.
Friday 10th February: Memorial of St. Scholastica.
It is traditionally believed that St. Scholastica was the twin sister of St. Benedict. She is believed to have been in charge of a convent near Monte Cassino where he was Abbot. She devoted herself to a life of prayer and solitude. She could only visit her brother once a year under the strict rules under which they bound themselves. She died in 543, aged sixty-seven.
Saturday 11th February: Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes.
This date marks the anniversary of the first of eighteen apparitions of Our Lady to St. Bernadette in Lourdes in 1858. She identified herself as the Immaculate Conception. She appealed for pilgrims to do penance, to come in procession and for a church to be built there. Now over six million pilgrims go to Lourdes between April and October each year. Some go out of curiosity, some go looking for a physical cure, some go looking for spiritual healing, some go to renew or even find their faith in God. At the heart of a pilgrimage are the two great processions – the Blessed Sacrament Procession and the Marian (Torchlight Procession). The praying of the Rosary is also stressed but the phrase in the roof of the Rosary basilica sums up the message of Lourdes – Through Mary to Jesus.
Today is kept throughout the world as the World day of Prayer for the Sick.