Bible Diary for August 4th – 10th
St. John Vianney
1st Reading: Eccl 1:2; 2:21-23:
All is meaningless—says the Teacher— meaningless, meaningless! For here was a man who toiled in all wisdom, knowledge and skill; and he must leave all to someone who has not worked for it. This is meaningless and a great misfortune. For what profit is there for a man in all his work and heart-searching under the sun? All his days bring sorrow; his work, grief; he hasn’t, moreover, peaceful rest at night: that, too, is meaningless.
2nd Reading: Col 3:1-5, 9-11:
So then, if you are risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on earthly things. For you have died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, reveals himself, you also will be revealed with him in glory. Therefore, put to death what is earthly in your life, that is immorality, impurity, inordinate passions, wicked desires and greed, which is a way of worshiping idols do not lie to one another. You have been stripped of the old self and its way of thinking; to put on the new, which is being renewed, and is to reach perfect knowledge, and the likeness of its creator. There is no room for distinction between Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, foreigner, slave or free, but Christ is all, and in all.
Gospel: Lk 12:13-21:
Someone in the crowd spoke to Jesus, “Master, tell my brother to share with me the family inheritance.” He replied, “My friend, who has appointed me as your judge or your attorney?” Then Jesus said to the people, “Be on your guard and avoid every kind of greed, for even though you have many possessions, it is not that which gives you life.”
And Jesus continued, “There was a rich man, and his land had produced a good harvest. He thought, ‘What shall I do, for I am short of room to store my harvest? Alright, I know what I shall do: I will pull down my barns and I will build bigger ones, to store all this grain, which is my wealth. Then I will say to myself: My friend, you have a lot of good things put by for many years. Rest, eat, drink and enjoy yourself.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be taken from you. Tell me, who shall get all you have put aside?’ This is the lot of the one who stores up riches for himself and is not wealthy in the eyes of God.”
Jesus cautions against abundant possessions. To him, they cannot be the source of life and security. Thus, they are not able to give or inspire life in the human person. The unrestricted accumulation of possessions at the expense of others arises from greed—the inclination to want more and to have more. Whereas, greed comes from insecurity—the feeling that there is something lacking or missing, creating instability and emptiness. Greed is never satisfied to have this much or that much.
It always wants some more and some more because more is not enough. Greed is a sign of insecurity and fear. (And many possessions project themselves to provide security.) Greed and insecurity corrupt the human mind and spirit. They take us away from (the) God and prevent us from becoming instruments of God’s goodness and generosity. That is why Jesus warns of every form of greed. What, then, gives us life if not many possessions? Jesus himself says he is the life and that he has come to give us life to its fullness. Lord Jesus, we pray that you become our true source of security, courage, strength, and inspiration. And take away our fears of the uncertainties of life.
Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major
1st Reading: Num 11:4b-15:
The children of Israel lamented, “Would that we had meat for food! We remember the fish we used to eat without cost in Egypt, and the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now we are famished; we see nothing before us but this manna.”
Manna was like coriander seed and had the color of resin. When they had gone about and gathered it up, the people would grind it between millstones or pound it in a mortar, then cook it in a pot and make it into loaves, which tasted like cakes made with oil. At night, when the dew fell upon the camp, the manna also fell. When Moses heard the people, family after family, crying at the entrance of their tents, so that the Lord became very angry, he was grieved.
“Why do you treat your servant so badly?” Moses asked the Lord. “Why are you so displeased with me that you burden me with all this people? Was it I who conceived all this people? Or was it I who gave them birth, that you tell me to carry them at my bosom, like a foster father carrying an infant, to the land you have promised under oath to their fathers? Where can I get meat to give to all this people? For they are crying to me, ‘Give us meat for our food.’ I cannot carry all this people by myself, for they are too heavy for me. If this is the way you will deal with me, then please do me the favor of killing me at once, so that I need no longer face this distress.”
Gospel: Mt 14:13-21:
When Jesus hears of it, he set out by boat for a secluded place, to be alone. But the people heard of it, and they followed him on foot from their towns. When Jesus went ashore, he saw the crowd gathered there, and he had compassion on them. And he healed their sick. Late in the afternoon, his disciples came to him and said, “We are in a lonely place and it is now late. You should send these people away, so that they can go to the villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” But Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat.”
They answered, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fishes.” Jesus said to them, “Bring them here to me.” Then he made everyone sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves and the two fishes, raised his eyes to heaven, pronounced the blessing, broke the loaves, and handed them to the disciples to distribute to the people. And they all ate, and everyone had enough; then the disciples gathered up the leftovers, filling twelve baskets. About five thousand men had eaten there, besides women and children.
The material poverty being experienced by the poor sector of our society, particularly lack of food, water, and a decent place to live in, is an indication of the continuing work of the Church to realize the reign of God on Earth. Jesus’ command to the disciples to “give them something to eat” extends to the contemporary Church, which claims to be a “church of the poor”. This command originates from his compassionate and loving heart, and it is well received by the Church which acts in the same love and compassion to care for the Body of Christ. In like manner, we are our sisters’ and brothers’ keepers, individually sharing in this command of Jesus.
Being true to the command would mean, in our time, reaching out to others in times of need to alleviate their suffering and to lift them up from inhumane condition, and to help give back their dignity as a human person, as daughters and sons of the living God. The command could also be extended to the care, protection and preservation of natural resources that aid in the production of food, water and other things that meet basic needs, and their means of livelihood that are dependent on natural sources.
Transfiguration of the Lord
1st Reading: Dn 7:9-10, 13-14:
Thrones were set up and the Ancient One took his throne. His clothing was bright as snow, and the hair on his head as white as wool; his throne was flames of fire, with wheels of burning fire. A surging stream of fire flowed out from where he sat; thousands upon thousands were ministering to him, and myriads upon myriads attended him. The court was convened and the books were opened.
As the visions during the night continued, I saw: one like a Son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven; when he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, the one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed.
2nd Reading: 2 P 1:16-19:
We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory, “This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain. Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
Gospel: Lk 9:28b-36:
About eight days after Jesus had said all this, he took Peter, John and James, and went up the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the aspect of his face was changed, and his clothing became dazzling white. Two men were talking with Jesus: Moses and Elijah. Appearing in the glory of heaven, Moses and Elijah spoke to Jesus about his departure from this life, which was to take place in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions had fallen asleep; but they awoke suddenly, and they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.
As Moses and Elijah were about to leave, Peter—not knowing what to say— said to Jesus, “Master, how good it is for us to be here! Let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” And no sooner had he spoken, than a cloud appeared and covered them; and the disciples were afraid as they entered the cloud. Then these words came from the cloud, “This is my Son, my Beloved, listen to him.” And after the voice had spoken, Jesus was there alone. The disciples kept this to themselves at the time, telling no one of anything they had seen.
Many things have already been said about prayer; and still, one could add more descriptions of it because experiences of prayer vary from one person to another. However, what is common to these experiences is that it opens up the mind and heart to a realm where one encounters the divine. Prayer puts us in touch with the power beyond us. It touches and engages our deepest concerns, freeing us from their grip and connecting us to the true source of joy and consolation.
It sets a condition and prepares an individual to undergo transformation. In prayer we are given hope, shown direction, and gain courage and strength. Prayer not only help us connect to the joy, suffering and pain of our fellow humans; but it also allows us to feel, in a profound way, the “pain” and “suffering” of other forms of life on Earth, the voiceless creatures, that are subjected to destructive human behavior.
St. Sixtus II and Companions
1st Reading: Num 13:1-2, 25–14:1, 26a-29a, 34-35:
The Lord said to Moses [in the desert of Paran,] “Send men to reconnoiter the land of Canaan, which I am giving the children of Israel. You shall send one man from each ancestral tribe, all of them princes.”
After reconnoitering the land for forty days they returned, met Moses and Aaron and the whole congregation of the children of Israel in the desert of Paran at Kadesh, made a report to them all, and showed the fruit of the country to the whole congregation. They told Moses: “We went into the land to which you sent us. It does indeed flow with milk and honey, and here is its fruit. However, the people who are living in the land are fierce, and the towns are fortified and very strong. Besides, we saw descendants of the Anakim there. Amalekites live in the region of the Negeb; Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites dwell in the highlands, and Canaanites along the seacoast and the banks of the Jordan.”
Caleb, however, to quiet the people toward Moses, said, “We ought to go up and seize the land, for we can certainly do so.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We cannot attack these people; they are too strong for us.” So they spread discouraging reports among the children of Israel about the land they had scouted, saying, “The land that we explored is a country that consumes its inhabitants. And all the people we saw there are huge, veritable giants (the Anakim were a race of giants); we felt like mere grasshoppers, and so we must have seemed to them.” At this, the whole community broke out with loud cries, and even in the night the people wailed.
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: “How long will this wicked assembly grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the children of Israel against me. Tell them: By my life, says the Lord, I will do to you just what I have heard you say. Here in the desert shall your dead bodies fall. Forty days you spent in scouting the land; forty years shall you suffer for your crimes: one year for each day. Thus you will realize what it means to oppose me. I, the Lord, have sworn to do this to all this wicked assembly that conspired against me: here in the desert they shall die to the last man.”
Gospel: Mt 15:21-28:
Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from the area, came and cried out, “Lord, Son of David, have pity on me! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But Jesus did not answer her, not even a word. So his disciples approached him and said, “Send her away! See how she is shouting after us.” Then Jesus said to her, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the nation of Israel.” But the woman was already kneeling before Jesus, and said, “Sir, help me!” Jesus answered, “It is not right to take the bread from the children and throw it to puppies.” The woman replied, “That is true, sir, but even puppies eat the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said, “Woman, how great is your faith! Let it be as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
We have here in the gospel passage an extraordinary demonstration of faith in Jesus. Although the point of the reading is the inclusion of other nations in the saving plan of God, the unwavering faith and persistence of the woman take on special attention. Three time she was ignored and rebuffed, but she persisted. Daily human affairs are replete with the interplay of rejection, persistence, and belief.
Experience would tell us that it is quite impossible for a person to achieve or get something significant done if she/he does not believe he can do it. Extra effort and motivation is needed if this were the case. One, who does not believe she/he can do it, will not make it; he will not even attempt to do it because of lack of faith. Strong faith keeps one on the move in spite of obstacles and difficulties. It gives her/him the resolve to persist. Faith is the fuel of persistence so to speak.
St. Mary of the Cross MacKilop
1st Reading: Num 20:1-13:
The whole congregation of the children of Israel arrived in the desert of Zin in the first month, and the people settled at Kadesh. It was here that Miriam died, and here that she was buried.
As the community had no water, they held a council against Moses and Aaron. The people contended with Moses, exclaiming, “Would that we too had perished with our kinsmen in the Lord’s presence! Why have you brought the Lord’s assembly into this desert where we and our livestock are dying? Why did you lead us out of Egypt, only to bring us to this wretched place which has neither grain nor figs nor vines nor pomegranates? Here there is not even water to drink!” But Moses and Aaron went away from the assembly to the entrance of the meeting tent, where they fell prostrate.
Then the glory of the Lord appeared to them, and the Lord said to Moses, “Take your staff and assemble the community, you and your brother Aaron, and in their presence order the rock to yield its waters. From the rock you shall bring forth water for the congregation and their livestock to drink.” So Moses took his staff from its place before the Lord, as he was ordered. He and Aaron assembled the community in front of the rock, where he said to them, “Listen to me, you rebels! Are we to bring water for you out of this rock?”
Then, raising his hand, Moses struck the rock twice with his staff, and water gushed out in abundance for the people and their livestock to drink. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you were not faithful to me in showing forth my sanctity before the children of Israel, you shall not lead this community into the land I will give them.”
These are the waters of Meribah, where the children of Israel contended against the Lord, and where the Lord revealed his sanctity among them.
Gospel: Mt 16:13-23:
Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
We know that foundations are what make something stand firm. Strong foundation, solid ground makes for stable structure. In Jesus, the Church, the Body of Christ, stands on solid ground. He is the life, the truth, and the guide of the People of God. In him we find fulfillment, meaning, and direction. Our faith has its basis on the resurrection of Jesus. Our hope is well founded on the words and promise of Jesus. And our love is grounded on the love of God for all his “very good” creation. We have a choice where to ground our actions: we can ground them with the truth, the good, and genuine values; or we can base them from mere satisfactions.
Those that are genuinely valuable are connected and oriented to the truth and the good. Genuine values promote well-being and flourishing of the whole creation, humans and nonhumans alike. On the other hand, mere satisfactions, if they were to guide our actions, are unstable and cannot be relied on. They tend to corrupt, and will destroy both human lives and the natural world. When actions are led by mere satisfactions, life in the end becomes disorderly and miserable.
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
1st Reading: Dt 4:32-40:
Moses said to the people: “Ask now of the days of old, before your time, ever since God created man upon the earth; ask from one end of the sky to the other: Did anything so great ever happen before? Was it ever heard of? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live? Or did any god venture to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, with his strong hand and outstretched arm, and by great terrors, all of which the Lord, your God, did for you in Egypt before your very eyes? All this you were allowed to see that you might know the Lord is God and there is no other.
Out of the heavens he let you hear his voice to discipline you; on earth he let you see his great fire, and you heard him speaking out of the fire. For love of your fathers he chose their descendants and personally led you out of Egypt by his great power, driving out of your way nations greater and mightier than you, so as to bring you in and to make their land your heritage, as it is today. This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart, that the Lord is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other. You must keep his statutes and commandments which I enjoin on you today, that you and your children after you may prosper, and that you may have long life on the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you forever.”
Gospel: Mt 16:24-28:
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 himself? There is nothing you can give to recover your own self. 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. Truly, I tell you, there are some here who will not die before they see the Son of Man coming as king.”
In the gospel reading, Jesus invites us to deny our self, take up our cross, and follow him. This is the threefold character of discipleship. Discipleship in action is both rewarding and costly. It comprises of joy brought about by sharing in the life of Christ, but it also bears a measure or degree of suffering encountered along the way. In both joy and suffering one denies the self of personal gratifications and ambitions brought about by “a purely competitive view of life” (Brendan Byrne).
The satisfaction of desires and the determination to achieve something present themselves attractively. They exert some power over the individual to pursue them. Denying the self of them, resisting their pull, and fully embracing the consequent joy and suffering of following Jesus open up an opportunity to live life in its fullest and allow for the experience of the deepest human hope of living in communion with the loving God.
1st Reading: 2 Cor 9:6-10:
Brothers and sisters: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work.
As it is written: He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.
The one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness.
Gospel: Jn 12:24-26:
Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. “Those who love their life destroy it, and those who despise their life in this world keep it for everlasting life. “Whoever wants to serve me, let him follow me and wherever I am, there shall my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
Andrew Lincoln has beautifully commented on the “loving”-and-“hating”-one’s life aspect of the gospel passage. He wrote: “to save, find or gain one’s life is to attempt to live one’s life as though one owned it and it is an enterprise doomed to failure because life is a gift from God, who can also take it away. On the other hand, to lose one’s life is to renounce the attempt to secure life for oneself and, instead, to spend it in the service of God and others.” God would always lead us to the purpose he has for each of us, and this purpose presents itself in the form of service to God and his beautiful creation.
Our purpose in life is intrinsically connected to this triadic element of God, creation, and service. Just like the rain that falls to the ground, which must perform a specific role, we too, brought to life on Earth, must accomplish that for which we are created. This is spending our life in service, instead of securing it for own. That is why it is important to identify those things that lead us to direct our energy, time, and skill just for ourselves; and that take us away from serving God and his creation.