Bible Diary for August 6th – August 12th
18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Transfiguration of the Lord
1st Reading: Dn 7:9-10, 13-14:
As I watched: 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 Pt 1:16-19:
Beloved: 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: Mt 17:1-9:
Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone. As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
God is mysterium tremendum, a tremendous mystery that evokes holy fear in those who glimpse it. Isaiah (6:1-5) experienced this and was stunned. But Peter and his friends experienced tremendous joy and love at the sight of transfigured Christ. In the incarnate Christ, the fear-evoking tremendous mystery becomes deeply lovable and approachable. Let us hold both dimensions of God’s mystery and not lose either of them–the mystery that evokes holy fear and holy love. Pray for a share in Christ’s transfiguration. Transfigure a human life today by feeding a hungry child or forgiving an enemy.
St. Sixtus II and Companions
1st Reading: Nm 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 heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” He said to them, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.”
But they said to him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.” Then he said, “Bring them here to me,” and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over– twelve wicker baskets full. Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.
Setbacks early in His ministry could have deterred men and women of lesser stature. John had been beheaded. Jesus was served a warning not to collide head on with the powers that be. But Jesus knew His mission and goal. Problems and obstacles are part and parcel of the task ahead. He would not retreat. He would only regroup His resources by withdrawing for a while since His time had not yet come. Yet even in His strategic retreat, logistical nightmare followed Him. The people who came on foot seeking Him had nothing to eat. Even His disciples were at a loss how to remedy the situation.
It is in this difficult situation that great leaders show why they are leaders. They turn problems into opportunities. They make something big out of the little resources that they have. In the hands of Jesus the two fish and five loaves fed a multitude. It is a prelude for the things to come. This man has what it takes to confront the mighty and the powerful of the land. Feeding others with physical food can be a satisfying experience. It gives us a chance to do something that addresses one of the basic needs of a person. When was the last time I whipped up a meal for others? Today I might bring some snacks or viands that I could share with others.
1st Reading: Nm 12:1-13:
Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses on the pretext of the marriage he had contracted with a Cushite woman. They complained, “Is it through Moses alone that the Lord speaks? Does he not speak through us also?” And the Lord heard this. Now, Moses himself was by far the meekest man on the face of the earth. So at once the Lord said to Moses and Aaron and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the meeting tent.” And the three of them went. Then the Lord came down in the column of cloud, and standing at the entrance of the tent, called Aaron and Miriam.
When both came forward, he said, “Now listen to the words of the Lord: Should there be a prophet among you, in visions will I reveal myself to him, in dreams will I speak to him; not so with my servant Moses! Throughout my house he bears my trust: face to face I speak to him; plainly and not in riddles. The presence of the Lord he beholds. Why, then, did you not fear to speak against my servant Moses?” So angry was the Lord against them that when he departed, and the cloud withdrew from the tent, there was Miriam, a snow-white leper! When Aaron turned and saw her a leper, he said to Moses, “Ah, my lord! Please do not charge us with the sin that we have foolishly committed! Let her not thus be like the stillborn babe that comes forth from its mother’s womb with its flesh half consumed.” Then Moses cried to the Lord, “Please, not this! Pray, heal her!”
Gospel: Mt 14:22-36:
Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side of the sea, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.”
Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.” After making the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret. When the men of that place recognized him, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought to him all those who were sick and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak, and as many as touched it were healed.
Jesus prayed and calmly walked above the turbulent lake, whereas His disciples who went ahead had to contend with the furious winds and waves that were set against them. Perhaps prayer has the capacity to still our inner world so much so that the chaos of the world outside does not unsettle us. This sets us apart from those who are easily affected and become fearful when the going gets tough. When we take time to pray before facing the world, its challenges and obstacles cannot daunt us. Peter learned the hard way when he requested to meet the Lord halfway and his courage faltered. The waves would have swallowed him up had Jesus not extended his hands. He was not prayerful enough to navigate the turbulent waters of life on his own. He would have to pray as Jesus prayed to overcome.
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
1st Reading: Nm 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:
At that time Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not say a word in answer to her. His disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour.
A person of lesser stuff would have just walked away when Jesus began to speak of His exclusive ministry for the lost sheep of Israel. The Canaanite woman and her daughter did not belong to the race of Abraham. She neither had the right to ask nor impose healing for her daughter on Him. But she had something that made her hold her ground. It was desperation over a loved one’s hopeless condition. This enabled her to forget about herself and allowed all her strength to work for the cure of her beloved daughter. Her selflessness made her a strong woman.
She was able to do what she did because she loved her daughter that much. And so Jesus was won over. He granted the request of the mother who had suffered for love. The Canaanite woman facilitated the healing of her daughter by her persistence. Have I helped others towards the point of persistence? Or do I help only at my own convenience? Today I will try to identify those whom I would like to help even at the expense of my own comfort and pride.
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 to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.”
St. Lawrence was martyred in Rome in 258 during the persecution under the Roman emperor Valerian. He was among the seven deacons serving Pope St. Sixtus II, who was martyred three days before Lawrence. When he was challenged to hand over the Church’s treasure to the authorities, he asked for a few days’ grace; then “he went all over the city, seeking out in every street the poor who were supported by the Church, and with whom no other was so well acquainted. On the third day, he gathered together a great number of them before the church and placed them in rows: the decrepit, the blind, the lame, the maimed, the lepers, orphans and widows; then he went to the prefect, invited him to come and see the treasure of the Church.” Many conversions to Christianity throughout Rome reportedly followed after Lawrence’s death, including those of several senators witnessing his execution on a gridiron.
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, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay each according to his conduct. Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”
Following is synonymous to risking. We give our all for a chance to follow someone faithfully and to the finish. That is why it is good business to know and be sure of who we follow. Our investment is such that giving up halfway because of disillusionment and falling out of faith would spell costly consequences. Jesus is making a pitch to us today to follow Him. He is candid about the fate of His disciples and does not water down what will happen as a consequence of such following. It is up to us whether we will cast our lot with Him or find others to follow. May we choose well and stand by our decision till the end.
St. Jane Frances de Chantal
1st Reading: Dt 6:4-13:
Moses said to the people: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today. Drill them into your children. Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest. Bind them at your wrist as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.
“When the Lord, your God, brings you into the land which he swore to your fathers: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that he would give you, a land with fine, large cities that you did not build, with houses full of goods of all sorts that you did not garner, with cisterns that you did not dig, with vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant; and when, therefore, you eat your fill, take care not to forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. The Lord, your God, shall you fear; him shall you serve, and by his name shall you swear.”
Gospel: Mt 17:14-20:
A man came up to Jesus, knelt down before him, and said, “Lord, have pity on my son, who is a lunatic and suffers severely; often he falls into fire, and often into water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Jesus said in reply, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him, and from that hour the boy was cured. Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
The size of our faith dictates the size of things we can do. Big faith means big enterprise, little faith means little results. The case of the epileptic child demonstrates the feeble faith the disciples still had. Their insecurities and doubts still get in the way. It is good though that they start with whatever little that they have and come out with the faith that could move mountains later on. And the Lord is there patiently guiding and mentoring them exercising patience and understanding. This tells us not to be afraid when we start with something small on our journey of faith. This is enough to start us towards a faith like that of the apostles.