5th Sunday of the Year (a)

This Week’s Liturgy Calendar.

Sunday 9th 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 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.

Tuesday 11th February:                   Tuesday of week 5 of the Year.      

            We read Solomon’s great prayer at the dedication of the Temple. He praises the goodness of God, who is all-powerful and cannot be restricted or contained even in the heavens far less the Temple. The Lord is to be honoured.  He watches over his people, forgives their sins and listens to their needs.

            The Pharisees and some of the scribes are critical that Jesus did not follow the strict purifications rites the Law demanded. He reminds them that sincerity and internal purity are far more important.

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.

Wednesday 12th February:   Wednesday of week 5 of the Year.

          Knowledge of Solomon’s wisdom spread everywhere.  The Queen of Sheba hears about it and decides to come and investigate things for herself.  She was impressed both by the style of his court and by his faithfulness to God.

            Jesus continues his teaching on inner purity. What comes from the heart is either good or bad.  He then lists the fruit of an evil heart.

Thursday 13th February:       Thursday of week 5 of the Year.

          Solomon begins to drift from God and worship the false gods of some of his wives. As a result, he is told the Kingdom will be divided after his death and half would be given to his servant. He died after reigning for forty years.

            Jesus shows how faith is not restricted to the Jews and the example of a non-believing pagan is put before us.

Friday 14th February:            Feast of St. Cyril and St. Methodius.

            Contrary to popular belief and practice today is not the Feast of St. Valentine in the Church.  It is, rather, the feast of two brothers, who are venerated as the apostles of the Slavic people. They ran into a lot of opposition from the German-speaking Church for using the Slavic language in their preaching and in their liturgies. However, this way of reaching out to people meant many people were brought into the Church. Methodius even spent some time in prison as a result of his efforts. He was accused of teaching unorthodox doctrine and had to defend himself to the Pope. Cyril died in 869 on a visit to Rome, Methodius died in 884 having translated most of the Bible into the Slavic language. They are regarded as patron saints of Christian Unity.

Saturday 15th February:        Saturday of week 5 of the Year.

          Following on Solomon’s death, the kingdom is again divided with Judah reigning in the south and Jeroboam in the North.  He wanted to stop the people travelling to Jerusalem to worship there so he built shrines to false gods and encouraged the people to worship at them.  They were in his own kingdom.  This is the last section of the Old Testament we read from for a while.

            We have Mark’s account of the multiplication of the loaves and fish in the Gospel today.  This leads on to Jesus teaching about the Eucharist the feeding of his people with his body and blood.