Weekly Readings November/December 2017

Weekdays in November and December 2017
Nicholas King SJ

The weekday readings are often slightly neglected, but they are immensely rich. They follow a text from day to day, and you have a much better chance of getting a grip on an entire book or letter on weekdays than on Sundays. So we are invited to take these readings with great seriousness, to go deeper into them, in order there to encounter the Lord who waits patiently just below the surface of the text. The gospel may be enough for you, but the first reading, whether it is taken from the Old Testament or from one of the letters or other documents of the New Testament, also has something to say, and can often strike a spark, help you to perceive something you had not noticed before, and so hear God's gentle challenge to you today.

weekdayNicholas King SJ is Provincial's Delegate for Formation for the British Jesuit Province. His translation of the entire bible was recently published by Kevin Mayhew.

Wednesday 1 November
All Saints

Revelation 7.2-4, 9-14
Psalm 24.1-6
1 John 3.1-3
Matthew 5.1-12
Today we celebrate the feast of All Saints (on its proper day, what is more); and it is a feast to cheer us. The first reading is from Revelation, which need not terrify us: here we have a vision of God's world 'another angel coming up from the rising of the sun with the seal of the Living God' and commanding the sealing of 'the servants of our God, on their foreheads'. We do not need to be told that this is a good sign, and this is confirmed as we learn the number of those signed: 144,000 'from every tribe of the children of Israel'; but don't get your computer out, for that number simply means 'a lot', and is then vastly surpassed by the 'great crowd, whom no one could count ... before the Throne and before the Lamb'. They, it turns out, are the martyrs, those who are 'coming out of the Great Tribulation': 'they shall not be hungry nor thirsty any more...because the Lamb will shepherd them, and guide them upon streams of living waters'. After that the only possible psalm is the one that we are given; and this is followed by a very appropriate glimpse of the power that animates the saints whom we venerate today; it is love, and that is what makes us likened to God. And how does it achieve this effect? Listen to today's gospel, the astonishing 'beatitudes' with which Matthew's Sermon on the Mount begins: 'congratulations to the poor in spirit'. That is what love looks like.

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