Tag Archives: story

22nd JANUARY, BIBLE READING (1 SAMUEL 17:32-33, 37, 40-51)


David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on his account; your servant will go and fight this Philistine.” But Saul answered David, “You cannot go and fight the Philistine; you are only a boy and he has been a warrior from his youth.” “The Lord who rescued me from the claws of lion and bear,” David said, “will rescue me from the power of this Philistine.” Then Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”

He took his staff in his hand, picked five smooth stones from the river bed, put them in his shepherd’s bag, in his pouch, and with his sling in his hand he went to meet the Philistine. The Philistine, his shield-bearer in front of him, came nearer and nearer to David; and the Philistine looked at David, and what he saw filled him with scorn, because David was only a youth, a boy of fresh complexion and pleasant bearing. The Philistine said to him, “Am I a dog for you to come against me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, “Come over here and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field.” But David answered the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel that you have dared to insult. Today the Lord will deliver you into my hand and I shall kill you; I will cut off your head, and this very day I will give your dead body and the bodies of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that it is not by sword or by spear that the Lord gives the victory, for he is lord of the battle and he will deliver you into our power.”

No sooner had the Philistine started forward to confront David than David left the line of battle and ran to meet the Philistine. Putting his hand in his bag, he took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead; the stone penetrated his forehead and he fell on his face to the ground. Thus David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone and struck the Philistine down and killed him. David had no sword in his hand. Then David ran and, standing over the Philistine, seized his sword and drew it from the scabbard, and with this he killed him, cutting off his head. The Philistines saw that their champion was dead and took to flight.

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.


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“Of all the seasons of the year Christmas is the most prominent in the whole area of reuniting families, from different countries and sometimes from different continents.

Yet, for some it is a time of infinite sadness since they have no living relatives. In many cases charitable friends insist on their joining their family celebrations. This, however, is a mixed blessing since for very many it sharpens the loss of living relatives in their lives.

This fact became increasingly obvious to a social worker in England who had quite a number of clients who had no living relatives and who reflected the sadness this loss created even after they had shared Christmas celebrations with friends.

This was brought to the attention of all at a meeting of social workers, and as they researched for a solution they realised that, between them, they could identify over thirty such people. After much discussion they decided that the best thing to do would be to bring them all together somewhere for Christmas. They managed to get a generous sponsor for a Christmas trip to a hotel in the south of France which was happy to give them highly competitive rates as it was their ‘off’ period.

Four of the social workers organised a party of thirty, and two of these professionals, who had no demanding family commitment, agreed to go as guides and advisors. I learned the rest of the story from a lady named Kathleen Roche who was in her mid-seventies and lived alone in a council flat.

They arrived at the hotel on the afternoon and evening of the 23rd December and came together the following morning for a get to know you session. Twelve of the group were of the Roman Catholic faith and it had been arranged that a retired British priest would say Christmas Mass at Midnight, which it was optional for any of the group to attend or otherwise. Some of the group, who practised different faiths, still opted to attend the Mass.


One of the group met Kathleen going to her room to dress for dinner and said she would meet her downstairs in about ten minutes. On arrival on the ground she spotted Kathleen and was puzzled as to how she had reached there before herself. When she asked, ‘Kathleen?’ the person she addressed smiled and told her that she had obviously mixed her up with someone else – her name was Rita and her accent identified her as coming from the north of England. Later as they sat down to dinner, she stared at both Kathleen and Rita and was astounded at the uncanny resemblance in features between the two.

She remarked on this to one of the social workers who was also amazed at the similarity in features. On enquiry, she found that the parents and all known relatives of both women had been killed during the bombing of London [during the Second World War] and both had been reared by foster parents, Kathleen in Wales and Rita in the north of England.

Both Kathleen and Rita had only the vaguest recollection of the London they had lived in before the war. However, on probing, the social worker found many similarities in their description of buildings nearby, which they remembered.

Curiosity prompted the social worker to contact a retired Home Office official whom she knew and she explained the situation. Over the coming weeks after the group had returned to England, the official searched for what documentation was available. He found that most records of the period had been destroyed but that Kathleen had been one of twin sisters born to her parents and it had been assumed that the other sister had perished with the parents. Similar enquiries relating to Rita revealed that she too was one of twin sisters born to her parents.

With the consent of both Kathleen and Rita, DNA tests were arranged and carried out. These proved that they were blood relations and it emerged that both were twin sisters who had survived their parents’ deaths but, because of wrong conclusions reached in the pressure of wartime Britain, the authorities had never connected their relationship.

The joy and happiness, which this news brought to both Kathleen and Rita was overwhelming. For the first time in their lives Christmas had brought a gift more precious than anything previously received. The joy of Bethlehem was truly theirs.”
– This article by Fintan M. Tallon was published in “Saint Martin Magazine” issue December 2004. For subscriptions please visit (external link).


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There was a lawyer who, to disconcert Jesus, stood up and said to him, “Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.” “You have answered right,” said Jesus, “Do this and life is yours.” But the man was anxious to justify himself and said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”

Jesus replied, “A man was once on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of brigands; they took all he had, beat him and then made off, leaving him half dead. Now a priest happened to be travelling down the same road, but when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite who came to the place saw him, and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan traveller who came upon him was moved with compassion when he saw him. He went up and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. He then lifted him on to his mount, carried him to the inn and looked after him. Next day, he took out two denarii and handed them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and on my way back I will make good any extra expense you have.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbour to the man who fell into the brigands’ hands?” “The one who took pity on him,” he replied. Jesus said to him, “Go, and do the same yourself.”

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.


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“A Catholic window cleaner has said he believes that he was ‘saved by an angel’ after his house exploded. Agostinho Jesus, 36, was injured by a gas explosion in his terraced home in Sheffield last week, which destroyed the front of his house and blew him across the street. The Portuguese father of one, who suffered burns to his head and hands, said after the disaster last Wednesday: ‘I was basically thrown away from my house along with the front wall. I was on the ground surrounded by fire and the first thing I thought I was burning alive.

‘Obviously I was burning alive but then I felt someone grab me by my arms and they pulled me into the other side of the road and sat me down. As I was being lifted all I could see were white clothes but then when I looked around I couldn’t see a soul on the street.

‘To me it was an angel. He saved me. I do believe in God and am a very strong Catholic myself.'”
– Report by Ed West, published in The Catholic Herald, issue June 14 2013. For subscriptions, please visit (external link)


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Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, “Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
and my spirit exults in God my saviour;
because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid.
Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed,
for the Almighty has done great things for me.
Holy is his name,
and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him.
He has shown the power of his arm,
he has routed the proud of heart.
He has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things, the rich sent empty away.
He has come to the help of Israel his servant,
mindful of his mercy
– according to the promise he made to our ancestors –
of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.”

Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back home.

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.


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Stephen said to the members of the Sanhedrin: “You stubborn people, with your pagan hearts and pagan ears. You are always resisting the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do. Can you name a single prophet your ancestors never persecuted? In the past they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, and now you have become his betrayers, his murderers. You who had the Law brought to you by angels are the very ones who have not kept it.

They were infuriated when they heard this, and ground their teeth at him.
But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the
glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. “I can see heaven thrown open,” he said, “and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” At this all the members of the council shouted out and stopped their ears with their hands; then they all rushed at him, sent him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses put down their clothes at the feet of a young man called Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen said in invocation, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and said aloud, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”; and with these words he fell asleep. Saul entirely approved of the killing.

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.


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Two of the disciples were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking together about all that had happened. Now as they talked this over, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side; but something prevented them from recognising him. He said to them, “What matters are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped short, their faces downcast.

Then one of them, called Cleopas, answered him, “You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days.” “What things?” he asked. “All about Jesus of Nazareth,” they answered, “who proved he was a great prophet by the things he said and did in the sight of God and of the whole people; and how our chief priest and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and had him crucified. Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free. And this is not all: two whole days have gone by since it all happened; and some women from our group have astounded us: they went to the tomb in the early morning, and when they did not find the body, they came back to tell us they had seen a vision of angels who declared he was alive. Some of our friends went to the tomb and found everything exactly as the women had reported, but of him they saw nothing.”

Then he said to them, “You foolish men! So slow to believe the full message of the prophets! Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?” Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.

When they drew near to the village to which they were going, he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them. “It is nearly evening,” they said, “and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. Now while he was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognised him; but he had vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?”

They set out that instant and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven assembled together with their companions, who said to them, “Yes it is true. The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.


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