Bible Diary for August 30th – September 5th

August 30th

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

1st Reading: Jer 20:7–9:
Yahweh, you have seduced me and I let myself be seduced. You have taken me by force and prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; they all make fun of me, for every time I speak I have to shout, “Violence! Devastation!” Yahweh’s word has brought me insult and derision all day long. So I decided to forget about him and speak no more in his name. But his word in my heart becomes like a fire burning deep within my bones. I try so hard to hold it in, but I cannot do it.

2nd Reading: Rom 12:1–2:
I beg you, dearly beloved, by the mercy of God, to give selves, as a living and holy sacrifice, pleasing to God; that is the kind of worship for you, as sensible people. Don’t let yourselves be shaped by the world where you live, but, rather, be transformed, through the renewal of your mind. You must discern the will of God: what is good, what pleases, what is perfect.

Gospel: Mt 16:21–27:
From that day, Jesus began to make it clear to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem; that he would suffer many things from the Jewish authorities, the chief priests and the teachers of the law; and that he would be killed and be raised on the third day. Then Peter took him aside and began to reproach him, “Never, Lord! No, this must never happen to you!” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my path. You are thinking not as God does, but as people do.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If you want to follow me, deny yourself. Take up your cross and follow me. For whoever chooses to save his life will lose it, but the one who loses his life, for my sake, will find it. What will one gain by winning the whole world, if he destroys his soul? Or what can a person give, in exchange for his life? Know, that the Son of Man will come, in the glory of his Father with the holy angels, and he will reward each one according to his deeds.

It is easier to follow those who are successful and famous. Everybody loves a winner. But to follow someone in good times and bad requires deep conviction. You have to be convinced of the justness of your cause. The disciples were not exempt from our human tendencies. They were on a roll when Jesus was popular and successful in His public ministry. But being the realist, He disclosed to them the kind of fate that inevitably awaited Him. He would have to drink the cup of suffering and death before His glorious resurrection. Even this momentary setback is bitter in the mouth of the disciples. Peter objected. This should not mar the triumph that they have right now.

This is where the greatness of Jesus shines through. He does not promise His followers a rose-colored life but greatness that comes out from the willingness to suffer. Henceforth all who will follow Him will have no illusion on the kind of fate that awaits them. They will either follow Him or not, with eyes wide open. Am I a follower of the Lord only in good times and do I tend to fall behind when the going gets rough? Today I make an inventory of my brand of following the Lord and identify the times I broke lose when it was tough not to do so. I will make a sincere act of contrition for my failings and will resolve to start afresh with my discipleship to Christ.

August 31st

1st Reading: 1 Cor 2:1–5:
When I came to reveal to you the mystery of God’s plan, I did not count on eloquence or on a show of learning. I was determined, not to know anything among you, but Jesus, the Messiah, and a crucified Messiah. I, myself, came; weak, fearful and trembling; my words, and preaching, were not brilliant, or clever to win listeners. It was, rather, a demonstration of spirit and power, so, that, your faith might be a matter, not of human wisdom, but of God’s power.

Gospel: Lk 4:16–30:
When Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, as he usually did. He stood up to read, and they handed him the book of the prophet Isaiah. Jesus then unrolled the scroll and found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has anointed me, to bring good news to the poor; to proclaim liberty to captives; and new sight to the blind; to free the oppressed; and to announce the Lord’s year of mercy.” Jesus then rolled up the scroll, gave it to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he said to them, “Today, these prophetic words come true, even as you listen.”

All agreed with him, and were lost in wonder, while he spoke of the grace of God. Nevertheless they asked, “Who is this but Joseph’s Son?” So he said, “Doubtless you will quote me the saying: Doctor, heal yourself! Do here, in your town, what they say you did in Capernaum.” Jesus added, “No prophet is honored in his own country. Truly, I say to you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens withheld rain for three years and six months and a great famine came over the whole land. Yet, Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow of Zarephath, in the country of Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha, the prophet; and no one was healed except Naaman, the Syrian.”

On hearing these words, the whole assembly became indignant. They rose up and brought him out of the town, to the edge of the hill on which Nazareth is built, intending to throw him down the cliff. But he passed through their midst and went his way.

Goodwill is usually maintained if we but stick to less contentious topics in our speech and speak of motherhood statements with which everyone agrees. However, once we point out people’s failures and defects, a conflict situation arises. Goodwill is lost. Hostility replaces the once friendly atmosphere. Jesus was acceptable to His townsfolk until such time that He waded into the controversy of His person.

The people who knew Him were awed by His speech yet they could not do away with their doubts about Him since they knew His origin. So, Jesus, pointing the reason for the lack of miracles in His town, earned their ire. Love and respect were lost. Jesus would never make significant inroads in His town for the rest of His life.

September 1st

1st Reading: 1 Cor 2:10–16:
God has revealed it to us, through his Spirit, because the Spirit probes everything, even the depth of God. Who, but his own spirit, knows the secrets of a person? Similarly, no one, but the Spirit of God, knows the secrets of God. We have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God and, through him, we understand what God, in his goodness, has given us. So we speak of this, not in terms inspired by human wisdom, but in a language taught by the Spirit, explaining a spiritual wisdom to spiritual persons.

The one who remains on the psychological level does not understand the things of the Spirit. They are foolishness for him; and he does not understand, because they require a spiritual experience. On the other hand, the spiritual person judges everything, but no one judges him. Who has known the mind of God so as to teach him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Gospel: Lk 4:31–37:
Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee, and began teaching the people at the Sabbath meetings. They were astonished at the way he taught them, for his word was spoken with authority. In the synagogue, there was a man possessed by an evil spirit, who shouted in a loud voice, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I recognize you: you are the Holy One of God.” Then Jesus said to him sharply, “Be silent and leave this man!”

The evil spirit then threw the man down in front of them, and came out of him without doing him harm. Amazement seized all these people, and they said to one another, “What does this mean? He commands the evil spirits with authority and power. He orders, and you see how they come out!” And news about Jesus spread throughout the surrounding area.

They say that if you want to get to know yourself better, ask your enemies for they will tell you in detail all your failures and shortcomings. On the part of Jesus, the evil spirits disclosed His identity as the Holy One of God. That is the most embarrassing thing they could say about Him. And coming from the mouth of enemies, this testimony should weigh far more important than those coming from Jesus’ friends. The evil spirits will never voluntarily disclose the grandeur of Jesus’ being had they had other bad things to say about Him.

September 2nd

1st Reading: 1 Cor 3:1–9:
I could not, friends, speak to you as spiritual persons but as fleshly people, for you are still infants in Christ. I gave you milk, and not solid food, for you were not ready for it, and, up to now, you cannot receive it, for you are still of the flesh. As long as there is jealousy and strife, what can I say, but that you are at the level of the flesh, and behave like ordinary people. While one says: “I follow Paul,” and the other: “I follow Apollos,” what are you, but people still at a human level?

For what is Apollos? What is Paul? They are ministers; and through them, you believed, as it was given by the Lord, to each of them. I planted, Apollos watered the plant, but God made it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God, who makes the plant grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work to the same end, and the Lord will pay each, according to their work. We are fellow workers with God, but you are God’s field and building.

Gospel: Lk 4:38–44:
Leaving the synagogue, Jesus went to the house of Simon. His mother-in-law was suffering from high fever, and they asked him to do something for her. Bending over her, he rebuked the fever, and it left her. Immediately, she got up and waited on them. At sunset, people suffering from many kinds of sickness were brought to Jesus. Laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Demons were driven out, howling as they departed from their victims, “You are the Son of God!”

He rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, for they knew he was the Messiah. Jesus left at daybreak and looked for a solitary place. People went out in search of him, and finding him, they tried to dissuade him from leaving. But he said, “I have to go to other towns, to announce the good news of the kingdom of God. That is what I was sent to do.” And Jesus continued to preach in the synagogues of Galilee.

Jesus leaves the synagogue and immediately radiates healing and wholeness wherever He goes. Having been recharged in the holy place He now has the energy to do His ministry. Perhaps this passage tells us that Jesus is most effective when He starts His day with a prayer. After a long day’s work, He still has space for a solitary moment with His Father. He does not consider it a loss of time for rest. It amplifies the benefits He gets from a night of sleep. This constancy in prayer will be one of the cherished memories of His disciples about Him. They must have rightly intuited that the source of Jesus’ fecundity in mission is His time spent in communion with God His Father.

September 3rd

St. Gregory the Great

1st Reading: 1 Cor 3:18–23:
Do not deceive yourselves. If anyone of you considers himself wise in the ways of the world, let him become a fool, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s eyes. To this, Scripture says: God catches the wise in their own wisdom. It also says: The Lord knows the reasoning of the wise, that it is useless. Because of this, let no one boast about human beings, for everything belongs to you; Paul, Apollos, Cephas—life, death, the present and the future. Everything is yours, and you, you belong to Christ, and Christ is of God.

Gospel: Lk 5:1–11:
One day, as Jesus stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, with a crowd gathered around him listening to the word of God, he caught sight of two boats, left at the water’s edge by fishermen, now washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to pull out a little from the shore. There he sat, and continued to teach the crowd. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon replied, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing. But if you say so, I will lower the nets.”

This they did, and caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. They signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They came, and they filled both boats almost to the point of sinking. Upon seeing this, Simon Peter fell at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Leave me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and his companions were amazed at the catch they had made, and so were Simon’s partners, James and John, Zebedee’s sons. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. You will catch people from now on.” So they brought their boats to land and followed him, leaving everything.

This Gospel provides us information on the unique approach Jesus used to “catch” Simon Peter and James and John, Zebedee’s sons. He was doing His normal rounds of preaching and it so happened by the lake of Gennesaret. Jesus espied these fishermen who were deeply concerned with their losses for that day rather than listening to His words.

To catch their attention, he engaged the services of one of them, Simon Peter, and asked him to pull out a little from the shore. There He continued His preaching and when He finished, He told Simon to put into the deep. Little did Simon know that on that day, it was not only him and his companions who caught so much fish. Jesus also would make a good haul of three disciples who would later form the inner circle of the group.

September 4th

1st Reading: 1 Cor 4:1–5:
Let everyone, then, see us as the servants of Christ, and stewards of the secret works of God. Being stewards, faithfulness shall be demanded of us; but I do not mind if you, or any human court, judges me. I do not even judge myself; my conscience, indeed, does not accuse me of anything, but that is not enough for me to be set right with God: the Lord is the one who judges me. Therefore, do not judge before the time, until the coming of the Lord. He will bring to light whatever was hid-den in darkness, and will disclose the secret intentions of the hearts. Then, each one will receive praise from God.

Gospel: Lk 5:33–39:
Some people asked him, “The disciples of John fast often and say long prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees. Why is it, that your disciples eat and drink?” Then Jesus said to them, “You can’t make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them. But later, the bride-groom will be taken from them; and they will fast in those days.”

Jesus also told them this parable: “No one tears a piece from a new coat to put it on an old one; otherwise the new coat will be torn, and the piece taken from the new coat will not match the old coat. No one puts new wine into old wine skins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed as well. But new wine must be put into fresh skins. Yet, no one who has tasted old wine is eager to drink new wine, but says, ‘The old is good.’”

Some people are afraid to try something new. They are most comfortable with the usual and the tested. That is why the scribes and Pharisees are uncomfortable with the way Jesus’ disciples behave. They are out of line from the usual and so they complained to Jesus. But Jesus gave them a framework to understand where His disciples came from. They discovered the liberating joy of being in the groom’s presence.

This wonderful time will not be taken away from them. They will do their fasting and prayer when the bridegroom leaves. But meanwhile, they will rejoice. This joy could have been had by the scribes and Pharisees had they but accepted Jesus. They however did not. They preferred the gloom of their customs and traditions rather than the Good News brought by Jesus.

September 5th

St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

1st Reading: 1 Cor 4:6b–15:
Brothers and sisters, you forced me to apply these comparisons to Apollos and to myself. Learn by this example, not to believe yourselves superior by siding with one against the other. How, then, are you more than the others? What have you that you have not received? And if you received it, why are you proud, as if you did not receive it? So, then, you are already rich and satisfied, and feel like kings, without us! I wish you really were kings, so that we might enjoy the kingship with you! It seems to me, that God has placed us, the apostles, in the last place, as if condemned to death, and as spectacles for the whole world, for the angels as well as for mortals.

We are fools for Christ, while you show forth the wisdom of Christ. We are weak, you are strong. You are honored, while we are despised. Until now we hunger and thirst, we are poorly clothed and badly treated, while moving from place to place. We labor, working with our hands. People insult us and we bless them, they persecute us and we endure everything; they speak evil against us, and ours are works of peace. We have become like the scum of the earth, like the garbage of humankind until now. I do not write this to shame you, but to warn you, as very dear children. Because, even though you may have ten thousand guardians in the Christian life, you have only one father; and it was I who gave you life in Christ through the gospel.

Gospel: Lk 6:1–5:
One Sabbath Jesus was going through a field of grain, and his disciples began to pick heads of grain, crushing them in their hands for food. Some of the Pharisees asked them, “Why do you do what is forbidden on the Sabbath?” Then Jesus spoke up and asked them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his men were hungry? He entered the house of God, took and ate the bread of the offering, and even gave some to his men, though only priests are allowed to eat that bread.” And Jesus added, “The Son of Man is Lord and rules over the Sabbath.”

Jesus’ movement is now gaining recognition. He is placed under surveillance by the spiritual guardians of the nation. It is no wonder therefore that they keep on complaining to Jesus about how unorthodox and out of line His disciples were. They make it their business to know what is going on in this new group. Instead of getting annoyed, Jesus capitalized on their criticisms by opening their eyes to a perspective that they neglected simply because they had been steeped in the legalistic framework of their faith.

These precedents were made by heroes of the nation in breaking certain rules because they put premium on the good of their men rather than man-made laws and conventions. He is now inviting them to refocus their vision. He is inviting them to partake of the freedom of the sons and daughters of God.