21 November. Wednesday, Week 33

First reading
Apocalypse 4:1-11
In my vision, I, John, saw a door open in heaven and heard the same voice speaking to me, the voice like a trumpet, saying, ‘Come up here: I will show you what is to come in the future.’ With that, the Spirit possessed me and I saw a throne standing in heaven, and the One who was sitting on the throne, and the Person sitting there looked like a diamond and a ruby. There was a rainbow encircling the throne, and this looked like an emerald. Round the throne in a circle were twenty-four thrones, and on them I saw twenty-four elders sitting, dressed in white robes with golden crowns on their heads. Flashes of lightning were coming from the throne, and the sound of peals of thunder, and in front of the throne there were seven flaming lamps burning, the seven Spirits of God. Between the throne and myself was a sea that seemed to be made of glass, like crystal. In the centre, grouped round the throne itself, were four animals with many eyes, in front and behind. The first animal was like a lion, the second like a bull, the third animal had a human face, and the fourth animal was like a flying eagle. Each of the four animals had six wings and had eyes all the way round as well as inside; and day and night they never stopped singing:
‘Holy, Holy, Holy
is the Lord God, the Almighty;
he was, he is and he is to come.’
Every time the animals glorified and honoured and gave thanks to the One sitting on the throne, who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders prostrated themselves before him to worship the One who lives for ever and ever, and threw down their crowns in front of the throne, saying, ‘You are our Lord and our God, you are worthy of glory and honour and power, because you made all the universe and it was only by your will that everything was made and exists.’
Psalm                               Psalm 150:1-6
Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God, the Almighty.
Praise God in his holy place,
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his powerful deeds,
praise his surpassing greatness.
O praise him with sound of trumpet,
praise him with lute and harp.
Praise him with timbrel and dance,
praise him with strings and pipes.
O praise him with resounding cymbals,
praise him with clashing of cymbals.
Let everything that lives and that breathes
give praise to the Lord.
Gospel    Luke 19:11-28
While the people were listening, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and they imagined that the kingdom of God was going to show itself then and there. Accordingly he said, ‘A man of noble birth went to a distant country to be appointed king and afterwards return. He summoned ten of his servants and gave them ten pounds. “Do business with these” he told them “until I get back.” But his compatriots detested him and sent a delegation to follow him with this message, “We do not want this man to be our king.”
‘Now on his return, having received his appointment as king, he sent for those servants to whom he had given the money, to find out what profit each had made. The first came in and said, “Sir, your one pound has brought in ten.” “Well done, my good servant!” he replied “Since you have proved yourself faithful in a very small thing, you shall have the government of ten cities.” Then came the second and said, “Sir, your one pound has made five.” To this one also he said, “And you shall be in charge of five cities.” Next came the other and said, “Sir, here is your pound. I put it away safely in a piece of linen because I was afraid of you; for you are an exacting man: you pick up what you have not put down and reap what you have not sown.” “You wicked servant!” he said “Out of your own mouth I condemn you. So you knew I was an exacting man, picking up what I have not put down and reaping what I have not sown? Then why did you not put my money in the bank? On my return I could have drawn it out with interest.” And he said to those standing by, “Take the pound from him and give it to the man who has ten pounds.” And they said to him, “But, sir, he has ten pounds . . .” “I tell you, to everyone who has will be given more; but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
‘“But as for my enemies who did not want me for their king, bring them here and execute them in my presence.”’
When he had said this he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

Alternative Readings

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

1st Reading: Zechariah (2:14-17)

Rejoice, for God will come and dwell in your midst

Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! For lo, I will come and dwell in your midst, says the Lord. Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord on that day, and shall be my people; and I will dwell in your midst. And you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you.
The Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem. Be silent, all people, before the Lord; for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.

Responsorial (from Luke 1: 46-55)

Resp.: The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name

My soul glorifies the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God, my saviour.
He looks on his servant in her nothingness;
henceforth all ages will call me blessed.
The Almighty works marvels for me.
Holy his name! (R./)
His mercy is from age to age,
on those who fear him.
He puts forth his arm in strength
and scatters the proud-hearted. (R./)
He casts the mighty from their thrones
and raises the lowly.
He fills the starving with good things,
sends the rich away empty. (R./)
He protects Israel, his servant,
remembering his mercy,
the mercy promised to our fathers,
to Abraham and his sons for ever. (R./)

Gospel: Matthew (12:46-50)

The real family of Jesus are those who take his Gospel to their heart

While Jesus was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”


Ready for his return

The visionary in Revelation shares his religious experiences in symbols like the roar of many waters, the flashing of thunder and the flaming of torches. All of us have had some significant religious experience: the joy of our first communion, and later perhaps decisions to be of service to others, moments when God seemed especially near, moments of peace after sorrow of loss. Sometimes we have tasted a particular sense of God’s closeness to us; at other times we have sensed the wonder of God through the beauty of nature. Later, if things seem to be falling apart through severe misfortune or sadness, we can recall those moments of joyful awareness— and hope for their return.
In the parable, Jesus could be alluding to a king who was well-known in Israel, Herod the Great, who had to flee for his life from Jerusalem, then made his way to Rome and charmed the emperor Aug.us into naming him king of Israel, and then returned to Palestine to take over. The parable warns us that the king will return, and therefore we must be prudent and loyal, industrious and honest, for one day we will be called to answer for our use of time and talents. “Use it or lose it” is a phrase that applies to our human potential. We can paraphrase Jesus’ words, “Whoever puts their talents to the service of others will be given more; but the one who has nothing he is willing to share will lose the little that he has.”
The last bit of the parable, about the king’s having his enemies killed in his presence, is rather baffling. It may simply be a memory of what king Herod actually did to his enemies on his return from exile. It can hardly be Jesus portraying a vengeful God, for his central teaching is about God’s power and goodness. The faith he teaches is always towards a God whom we can call upon as “Abba, Father!”

His first and second coming

Immediately after speaking this parable, Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem on a colt, to the cries of ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.’ Jesus’ imminent entry into the city of Jerusalem led some of his followers to believe that the kingdom of God would soon come in all its fullness. Jesus speaks this parable to counter the expectation that the full arrival of God’s kingdom was imminent. The parable suggests, rather, that there would be a long interval between Jesus’ enthronement as king at his resurrection and his return at the end of time in power and glory. This long interval is a time of opportunity for creative service of others, a time to use the gifts and resources we have been given in doing the Lord’s work. One of the servants to whom the master in the parable entrusted resources did nothing with what he had been given, because of fear. Fear left him paralyzed, held him back. It is striking the number of times Jesus says ‘Do not be afraid.’ Jesus was very aware how fear can prevent people from responding to his call. The opposite of faith in the gospels is not so much unbelief but fear. When we rise above our fears in response to the Lord’s call, we make it easier for others to do the same. We encourage each other—we give each other courage—by being courageous ourselves.

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