Come, ring out our joy to the Lord; hail the God who saves us, alleluia.
Year: A(II). Psalm week: 1. Liturgical Colour: Green.
In other years: St Irenaeus (130 - 202)
Irenaeus was born in Smyrna, in Asia Minor (now Izmir in Turkey) and emigrated to Lyons, in France, where he eventually became the bishop. It is not known for certain whether he was martyred or died a natural death.
Whenever we take up a Bible we touch Irenaeus’s work, for he played a decisive role in fixing the canon of the New Testament. It is easy for people nowadays to think of Scripture – and the New Testament in particular – as the basis of the Church, but harder to remember that it was the Church itself that had to agree, early on, about what was scriptural and what was not.
Before Irenaeus, there was vague general agreement on what scripture was, but a system based on this kind of common consent was too weak. As people meditated on the intolerable event of the Redemption, dissensions and heresies inevitably arose, and reference to scripture was the obvious way of trying to settle what the truth really was. But in the absence of an agreed canon of scripture it was all too easy to attack one’s opponent’s arguments by saying that his texts were corrupt or unscriptural; and easy, too, to do a little fine-tuning of texts on one’s own behalf.
So Irenaeus went through all the books of the New Testament, and all the candidates (such as the magical pseudo-Gospels, and the entertaining and uplifting novel The Shepherd of Hermas). He did not simply accept or reject each book, because his enemies could have said that he was doing it to bolster his own arguments: he gave reasons for and against the canonicity of each. Irenaeus’s canon of scripture is very nearly the modern one (he does not quote from three of the short universal epistles), but more important is the fact that he started the tradition of biblical scholarship.
Irenaeus had to fight against the Gnostics, who believed that the world was irredeemably wicked, and against the Valentinians, who claimed to be possessors of a secret tradition that had never been written down but passed from master to disciple through the ages. This pessimism and this arcane élitism remain with us even today, and each generation must renew the fight against them. Let us pray for the inspiration of St Irenaeus in our battle.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: Pope St Paul VI (1897-1978)
Giovanni Battista Montini was born on 26 September 1897 in the village of Concesio, in the province of Brescia, Lombardy. He was ordained priest on 29 May 1920 and worked in the Roman Curia, the Vatican civil service, until he was made Archbishop of Milan in 1954. He was elected Pope on 21 June 1963, successfully saw the Vatican Council through to its completion, promoted the renewal of the Church’s life and especially of the liturgy. He also promoted ecumenical dialogue and the proclamation of the Gospel to the modern world. He died on 6 August 1978.
He was canonized by Pope Francis in 2018.
Liturgical colour: green
The theological virtue of hope is symbolized by the colour green, just as the burning fire of love is symbolized by red. Green is the colour of growing things, and hope, like them, is always new and always fresh. Liturgically, green is the colour of Ordinary Time, the orderly sequence of weeks through the year, a season in which we are being neither single-mindedly penitent (in purple) nor overwhelmingly joyful (in white).
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||1 John 4:16 ©|
We ourselves have known and put our faith in God’s love towards ourselves. God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Galatians 6:7-8 ©|
What a man sows, he reaps. If he sows in the field of self-indulgence he will get a harvest of corruption out of it; if he sows in the field of the Spirit he will get from it a harvest of eternal life.
|Afternoon reading (None)||(Galatians 6:9-10) ©|
We must never get tired of doing good, and then we shall get our harvest at the proper time. While we have the chance, we must do good to all, and especially to our brothers in the faith.