January 24 St Francis de Sales (1567 – 1622)

Entrance Antiphon Cf. Sir 15: 5

In the midst of the Church he opened his mouth, and the Lord filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding and clothed him in a robe of glory.

Collect

O God, who for the salvation of souls willed that the Bishop St. Francis de Sales become all things to all, graciously grant that, following his example, we may always display the gentleness of your charity in the service of our neighbour. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

First reading: 2 Samuel 7:4-17

The word of the Lord came to Nathan: ‘Go and tell my servant David, “Thus the Lord speaks: Are you the man to build me a house to dwell in? I have never stayed in a house from the day I brought the Israelites out of Egypt until today, but have always led a wanderer’s life in a tent. In all my journeying with the whole people of Israel, did I say to any one of the judges of Israel, whom I had appointed as shepherds of Israel my people: Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” This is what you must say to my servant David, “the Lord of Hosts says this: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be leader of my people Israel; I have been with you on all your expeditions; I have cut off all your enemies before you. I will give you fame as great as the fame of the greatest on earth. I will provide a place for my people Israel; I will plant them there and they shall dwell in that place and never be disturbed again; nor shall the wicked continue to oppress them as they did, in the days when I appointed judges over my people Israel; I will give them rest from all their enemies. The Lord will make you great; the Lord will make you a House. And when your days are ended and you are laid to rest with your ancestors, I will preserve the offspring of your body after you and make his sovereignty secure. (It is he who shall build a house for my name, and I will make his royal throne secure for ever.) I will be a father to him and he a son to me; if he does evil, I will punish him with the rod such as men use, with strokes such as mankind gives. Yet I will not withdraw my favour from him, as I withdrew it from your predecessor. Your House and your sovereignty will always stand secure before me and your throne be established for ever.”’ Nathan related all these words to David and this whole revelation.

Psalm: Psalm 88:4-5,27-30

R/I will keep my love for him always.

  1. I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant: I will establish your dynasty for ever and set up your throne through all ages.
  2. He will say to me: You are my father, my God, the rock who saves me. And I will make him my first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth.
  3. I will keep my love for him always; with him my covenant shall last. I will establish his dynasty for ever, make his throne endure as the heavens.

Gospel Acclamation : 1S3:9,Jn6:68

Alleluia, alleluia! Speak, Lord, your servant is listening: you have the message of eternal life. Alleluia!

Gospel: Mark 4:1-20

Jesus began to teach by the lakeside, but such a huge crowd gathered round him that he got into a boat on the lake and sat there. The people were all along the shore, at the water’s edge. He taught them many things in parables, and in the course of his teaching he said to them, ‘Listen!, Imagine a sower going out to sow. Now it happened that, as he sowed, some of the seed fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some seed fell on rocky ground where it found little soil and sprang up straightaway, because there was no depth of earth; and when the sun came up it was scorched and, not having any roots, it withered away. Some seed fell into thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it produced no crop. And some seeds fell into rich soil and, growing tall and strong, produced crop; and yielded thirty, sixty, even a hundredfold.’ And he said, ‘Listen, anyone who has ears to hear!’ When he was alone, the Twelve, together with the others who formed his company, asked what the parables meant. He told them, ‘The secret of the kingdom of God is given to you, but to those who are outside everything comes in parables, so that they may see and see again, but not perceive; may hear and hear again, but not understand; otherwise they might be converted and be forgiven.’ He said to them, ‘Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables? What the sower is sowing is the word. Those on the edge of the path where the word is sown are people who have no sooner heard it than Satan comes and carries away the word that was sown in them. Similarly, those who receive the seed on patches of rock are people who, when first they hear the word, welcome it at once with joy. But they have no root in them, they do not last; should some trial come, or some persecution on account of the word, they fall away at once. Then there are others who receive the seed in thorns. These have heard the word, but the worries of this world, the lure of riches and all the other passions come in to choke the word, and so it produces nothing. And there are those who have received the seed in rich soil: they hear the word and accept it and yield a harvest, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.’

Prayer over the Offerings

Through this saving sacrifice which we offer you, O Lord, kindle in our hearts that divine fire of the Holy Spirit with which you wonderfully inflamed the most gentle soul of St. Francis de Sales. Through Christ our Lord.

Communion Antiphon Cf. Lk 12: 42

Behold a faithful and prudent steward to give them their allowance of food at the proper time.

Prayer after Communion

Grant, we pray, almighty God, that through the Sacrament we have received, we may imitate on earth the charity and meekness of St. Francis de Sales and so attain like him the glory of heaven. Through Christ our Lord.

Reflection

Jesus uses parables as a special method to preach. In them, he gradually unfolds the mysteries of the Kingdom of God to his listeners. In this Sunday’s Gospel, he uses the parable of the sower to move his listeners to open theirs heart generously to the word of God and to put it into practice. The sower scatters the seeds all around him in much the same way as God spreads his graces to everyone, rich or poor, learned or ignorant, the courageous as well as the coward. He sows his seed in all of us today and invites us to spread his word by teaching and by the witness of our personal lives. His word is fruitful because it stirs many souls to dedication and fidelity. Those of us who are fortunate to receive the seed in the rich soil of our souls have the obligation to show the light of Christ’s truth to those of our brothers and sisters who have fallen by the roadside in their faith. They are the seed, the word of God, that did not find fertile soil to sprout and bear fruit. With our prayers, we can help cultivate barren soil and make it fertile again. The land is vast but the labourers are few. Let us be fellow workers in the Lord’s vineyard. We cultivate, he sows and blesses.

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