Bible Diary for August 23rd – 29th
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. Rose of Lima
1st Reading: Is 22:19–23:
You will be deposed, strongman. I will hurl you down from where you are. On that day I will summon my servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah. I will clothe him with your robe, I will strengthen him with your girdle, I will give him your authority, and he will be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the people of Judah. Upon his shoulder I will place the key of the house of David: what he opens, no one shall shut; what he shuts, no one shall open. I will fasten him like a peg in a sure spot, and he will be a seat of honor in the house of his father.
2nd Reading: Rom 11:33–36:
How deep are the riches, the wisdom and knowledge of God! His decisions cannot be explained, nor his ways understood! Who has ever known God’s thoughts? Who has ever been his adviser? Who has given him something first, so that God had to repay him? For everything comes from him, has been made by him and has to return to him. To him be the glory for ever! Amen.
Gospel: Mt 16:13–20:
After that, Jesus came to Caesarea Philippi. He asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They said, “For some of them, you are John the Baptist; for others Elijah, or Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” Jesus asked them, “But you, who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “It is well for you, Simon Barjona, for it is not flesh or blood that has revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And now I say to you: You are Peter; and on this Rock I will build my Church; and never will the powers of death overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you unbind on earth shall be unbound in heaven.”
Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.
There is a time in our life when we have to lay down our all, when we have to risk everything because we are truly convinced and we do believe. This is what had happened to Peter when he was finally asked by Jesus who he thought Jesus was. Peter had been a follower for some time. He had been part of the most beautiful memories of Jesus. And now he had to give account of his own impression of his Teacher. Peter never hesitated. He proclaimed the faith that would be taken over by the church literally founded over his place of burial.
Peter risked his all. He gained big time for that risk by being the rock on which the church of Jesus would be built. Am I proud of my faith or do I take it casually to the point that I don’t make a stand when my faith is attacked. Today I will proudly wear my being a Christian and will help promote a better understanding of what I believe in my social network, in my workplace, in my community and in any place I can advance a correct appreciation of my belief.
1st Reading: Rev 21:9b–14:
Then one of the seven angels came to me, one of those with the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues. And he said, “Come, I am going to show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” He took me up in a spiritual vision to a very high mountain and he showed me the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shines with the glory of God, like a precious jewel with the color of crystal-clear jasper.
Its wall, large and high, has twelve gates; stationed at them are twelve angels. Over the gates are written the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. Three gates face the east; three gates face the north; three gates face the south and three face the west. The city wall stands on twelve foundation stones on which are written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
Gospel: Jn 1:45–51:
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found the one that Moses wrote about in the Law, and the prophets as well: he is Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” Nathanael replied, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming, he said of him, “Here comes an Israelite, a true one; there is nothing false in him.” Nathanael asked him, “How do you know me?”
And Jesus said to him, “Before Philip called you, you were under the fig tree and I saw you.” Nathanael answered, “Master, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” But Jesus replied, “You believe because I said: ‘I saw you under the fig tree.’ But you will see greater things than that. Truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
Education teaches us to be prepared for life. Not only does education awaken our inherent abilities but also guides them to right conduct and to right relationship with others. To nurture the right relationship, it requires that we leave behind our biases and stereotypes. At times, it is healthy that we open ourselves to element of surprise when we deal with others. Nathaniel made an irresponsible judgment on Jesus and his roots “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Jesus looked at him and loved him from their first encounter. It is a way of knowing and relating that we ourselves can practice by opening ourselves to the richness of our fellow being way beyond appearances and stereotypes.
St. Louis IX
St. Joseph Calasanz
1st Reading: 2 Thes 2:1–3a, 14–17:
Brothers and sisters, let us speak about the coming of Christ Jesus, our Lord, and our gathering to meet him. Do not be easily unsettled. Do not be alarmed by what a prophet says, or by any report, or by some letter said to be ours, saying, the day of the Lord is at hand. Do not let yourselves be deceived, in any way. Apostasy must come first, when the man of sin will appear.
To this end he called you, through the gospel we preach, for he willed you, to share the glory of Christ Jesus, our Lord. Because of that, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold to the traditions that we taught you, by word or by letter. May Christ Jesus, our Lord, who has loved us, may God our Father, who, in his mercy, gives us everlasting comfort and true hope, strengthen you. May he encourage your hearts and make you steadfast in every good work and word.
Gospel: Mt 23:23–26:
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You do not forget the mint, anise and cumin seeds when you demand the tenth of everything; but then, you forget what is most fundamental in the law: justice, mercy and faith! You should have done these things without neglecting the others. Blind guides! You strain out a mosquito, but swallow a camel. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You fill the plate and the cup, with theft and violence, and then pronounce a blessing over them. Blind Pharisee! Purify the inside first, then the outside, too, will be purified.
The tirade of Jesus against the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees continues. There seems to be no let up on the part of the Lord on His denunciation of their ways. But are they really that bad to warrant the divine anger? It seems that not all are hard-hearted and close-minded as we think they are. Some showed exceptional sensitivity and openness to Jesus’ teachings. Just recall Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea and the synagogue official who asked healing for his daughter.
It is not therefore their persons that Jesus condemns but their institutions that have calcified through time and have no energy to renew itself. The only way to awaken them from their torpor is through strong criticism. Jesus took upon Himself this thankless task to put religious institutions back on track. He would not be repaid with gratitude but with the cross.
1st Reading: 2 Thes 3:6–10, 16–18:
We command you, beloved, to stay away from believers who are living in idleness, contrary to the traditions we passed on to you. You know, how you ought to follow our example: we worked while we were with you. Day and night, we labored and toiled so as not to be a burden to any of you. We had the right to act otherwise, but we wanted to give you an example.
Besides, while we were with you, we said clearly: If anyone is not willing to work, neither should that one eat. May the Lord of peace give you his peace at all times and in every way. May the Lord be with you all. I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is my signature in all my letters. This is how I write. May the grace of Christ Jesus our Lord be with you.
Gospel: Mt 23:27–32:
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, beautiful in appearance; but, inside, there are only dead bones and uncleanness. In the same way, you appear religious to others, but you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness within. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets, and decorate the monuments of the righteous. You say: Had we lived in the time of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the blood of the prophets. So, you, yourselves, confess to be the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. And now, finish off what your ancestors began!
Time will later show that the institutions that Jesus hoped to reform to bring back righteousness to God’s people would fight back and engineer His demise. They had enough of this upstart who dared try to criticize an institution that had been Israel’s conscience and guide for a long time. Their pride had been wounded. The wall of hate was constructed. No amount of Jesus’ admonition and appeal would ever move their hearts and minds to change. They would finish off as Jesus dared them to do, what their ancestors had began. They would silence this voice that had caused them inconvenience and harm.
1st Reading: 1 Cor 1:1–9:
From Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will God, and from Sosthenes, our brother, to God’s Church which is in Corinth; to you, whom God has sanctified in Christ Jesus, and called, to be holy, together, with those, who, everywhere, call upon the name of our Lord Christ Jesus, their Lord and ours. Receive grace, and peace from God, our Father, and Christ Jesus, our Lord. I give thanks, constantly, to my God, for you, and for the grace of God given to you, in Christ Jesus.
For you have been fully enriched, in him, with words, as well as with knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you. You do not lack any spiritual gift and only await the glorious coming of Christ Jesus, our Lord. He will keep you steadfast to the end, and you will be without reproach, on the day of the coming of our Lord Jesus. The faithful God will not fail you, after calling you to this fellowship with his Son, Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Gospel: Mt 24:42–51:
Stay awake then, for you do not know on what day your Lord will come. Obviously, if the owner of the house knew at what time the thief was coming, he would certainly stay up and not allow his house to be broken into. So be alert, for the Son of Man will come at the hour you least expect. Imagine a faithful and prudent servant, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give them food at the proper time. Fortunate, indeed, is that servant, whom his master will find at work when he comes.
Truly I say to you, his lord will entrust him with everything he has. Not so with the bad servant, who thinks, ‘My master is delayed.’ And he begins to ill-treat his fellow servants, while eating and drinking with drunkards. But his master will come on the day he does not know, and at the hour he least expects. He will punish that servant severely; and place with him with the hypocrites. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Being watchful and being awake: these are beautiful imagery of what a disciple must be. It is not easy to be so. These demand preparation and a will to do so. There is always a tendency to relax and let go of the discipline when the Master is not around. Space and distance tend to bring out what has been buried in the hearts of all. Blessed then are those who remain constantly alert and on the watch. Their reliability amidst the Master’s absence will earn them a place in His house.
1st Reading: 1 Cor 1:17–25:
Brothers and sisters: Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the Gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning. The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the learning of the learned I will set aside. Where is the wise one? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish?
For since in the wisdom of God the world did not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith. For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
Gospel: Mt 25:1–13:
Jesus told his disciples this parable: “This story throws light on what will happen in the kingdom of heaven. Ten bridesmaids went out with their lamps to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were careless while the others were sensible. The careless bridesmaids took their lamps as they were and did not bring extra oil. But those who were sensible, brought with their lamps flasks of oil. As the bridegroom delayed, they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. But at midnight, a cry rang out: ‘The bridegroom is here, come out and meet him!’ All the maidens woke up at once and trimmed their lamps. Then the careless ones said to the sensible ones: ‘Give us some oil, for our lamps are going out.’ The sensible ones answered: ‘There may not be enough for both you and us. You had better go to those who sell and buy for yourselves.’ They were out buying oil when the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him to the wedding feast, and the doors were shut. Later the rest of the bridesmaids arrived and called out: ‘Lord, Lord, open to us.’ But he answered: ‘Truly, I do not know you.’ So, stay awake, for you do not know the day nor the hour.”
In many ways, the ten virgins awaiting the bridegroom are symbolic of our role in the world, as witnesses to God’s love for us all. Our world has an urgent need for witnesses. We must witness that our identity is centered on true spirituality, and that our morality derives from that spirituality. We must witness that our faith challenges many of the values of the dominant secular culture. We must witness that our traditions have great meaning for us. We must witness that challenging commitments offer firm principles by which we may live our lives.
We must witness that adherence to traditional morality often comes at a considerable personal cost: perhaps of losing family, friends, even jobs. We must witness that what we have found in Christ is true and real. We must witness by seeking our lasting happiness. We must witness by striving for personal holiness and authenticity. Witness has no room for complacency, hypocrisy, or self-indulgence. For all those who wish to be authentic witnesses, a life of prayer and reflection is crucial. As effective witnesses, we must have an unambiguous mind, a well-formed conscience and a passion for the way of life that leads us to eternity.
Beheading of St. John the Baptist
1st Reading: Jer 1:17–19:
But you, get ready for action; stand up and say to them all that I command you. Be not scared of them or I will scare you in their presence! See, I will make you a fortified city, a pillar of iron with walls of bronze, against all the nations, against the kings and princes of Judah, against the priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but shall not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue you—it is Yahweh who speaks.”
Gospel: Mk 6:17–29:
For this is what had happened: Herod had ordered John to be arrested; and had had him bound and put in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. Herod had married her; and John had told him, “It is not right for you to live with your brother’s wife.” So Herodias held a grudge against John and wanted to kill him; but she could not, because Herod respected John.
He knew John to be an upright and holy man, and kept him safe. And he liked listening to him; although he became very disturbed whenever he heard him. Herodias had her chance on Herod’s birthday, when he gave a dinner for all the senior government officials, military chiefs, and the leaders of Galilee. On that occasion, the daughter of Herodias came in and danced; and she delighted Herod and his guests.
The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want and I will give it to you.” And he went so far as to say with many oaths, “I will give you anything you ask, even half my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” The mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried to the king and made her request, “I want you to give me the head of John the Baptist, here and now, on a dish.”
The king was very displeased, but he would not refuse in front of his guests because of his oaths. So he sent one of the bodyguards, with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded John in prison; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl. And the girl gave it to her mother. When John’s disciples heard of this, they came and took his body and buried it.
John got into trouble when he pointed out the obvious that nobody wants to talk about. Herod’s union with Herodias, his brother’s wife, is unlawful. But it is not Herod that he has to worry about the most. Herod still has respect for his person who has no qualms confronting the former of his transgression. It is Herodias who is implacable and unforgiving. And so a chance was grabbed without second thoughts and that is how the life of John, whom no man born of a woman could ever surpass, ended. He offered his life in service of the truth.