Bible Diary for December 1st – 7th
1st Sunday of Advent
1st Reading: Is 2:1-5:
The vision of Isaiah, son of Amoz, concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In the last days, the mountain of Yahweh’s house shall be set over the highest mountains and shall tower over the hills. All the nations shall stream to it, saying, “Come, let us go to the mountain of Yahweh, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and we may walk in his paths. For the teaching comes from Zion, and from Jerusalem the word of Yahweh. He will rule over the nations and settle disputes for many people. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not raise sword against nation; they will train for war no more. O nation of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!”
2nd Reading: Rom 13:11-14:
You know what hour it is. This is the time to awake, for our salvation is, now, nearer than when we first believed; the night is almost over, and day is at hand. Let us discard, therefore, everything that belongs to darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. As we live in the full light of day, let us behave with decency; no banquets with drunkenness, no promiscuity or licentiousness, no fighting or jealousy. Put on, rather, the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not be led by the will of the flesh nor follow its desires.
Gospel: Mt 24:37-44:
Jesus said to his disciples: “At the coming of the Son of Man it will be just as it was in the time of Noah. In those days before the Flood, people were eating and drinking, and marrying, until the day when Noah went into the ark. Yet they did not know what would happen until the flood came and swept them away. So will it be at the coming of the Son of Man. Of two men in the field, one will be taken and the other left.”
“Of two women grinding wheat together at the mill, one will be taken and the other left. “Stay awake, then, for you do not know on what day your Lord will come. Just think about this: if the owner of the house knew that the thief would come by night around a certain hour, he would stay awake to prevent his house to be broken into. So be alert, for the Son of Man will come at the hour you least expect.”
“Find Ways and Means to overcome your weakness (say flesh and purity) this is what it means also to stay awake”. This first Sunday of Advent ushers us to listen to these words “stay awake”. This means being prepared, being ready: opening up of our minds and hearts. Because we do not know when the Lord comes. When we are caught off guard we will be ashamed at others. We become the butt of jokes.
When the Lord tells us today: “staying awake”, this means a serious caution. In the Second reading this “staying awake” is translated to “putting on Christ” and do not be led by the flesh nor follow its desires. Putting on Christ means embracing His ways. Be ready for any eventuality that Christ wants us. “Lord, lead me to your path, enlighten my mind and heart. Let your word be my light.
1st Reading: Is 4:2-6:
On that day, The branch of the Lord will be luster and glory, and the fruit of the earth will be honor and splendor for the survivors of Israel. He who remains in Zion and he who is left in Jerusalem Will be called holy: every one marked down for life in Jerusalem. When the Lord washes away the filth of the daughters of Zion, And purges Jerusalem’s blood from her midst with a blast of searing judgment, Then will the Lord create, over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her place of assembly, A smoking cloud by day and a light of flaming fire by night. For over all, the Lord’s glory will be shelter and protection: shade from the parching heat of day, refuge and cover from storm and rain.
Gospel: Mt 8:5-11:
When Jesus entered Capernaum, an army captain approached him, to ask his help, “Sir, my servant lies sick at home. He is paralyzed and suffers terribly.” Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” The captain answered, “I am not worthy to have you under my roof. Just give an order and my boy will be healed. For I myself, a junior officer, give orders to my soldiers. And if I say to one, ‘Go!’ he goes; and if I say to another, ‘Come!’ he comes; and if I say to my servant, ‘Do this!’ he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was astonished; and said to those who were following him, “I tell you, I have not found such faith in Israel. I say to you, many will come from east and west and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus was amazed at this centurion’s faith. How could such a Gentile reach that unexpected level of faith? He was able to confess man’s limitation and the recognition of his need for God. Indeed, who among us is truly worthy to have Jesus under our roof, to live with us in the littleness of our hearts and homes? The centurion recognized his limitations and confessed it to the Lord with profound humility, politeness and faith. As we await the advent of Christ, it is good to reflect today our own preparations for this wonderful event, Jesus’ birth.
After all, the kingdom of God, the reign of this expected new-born king is for all people everywhere. Jesus comes to us as a “Prince of Peace” and not as a mighty conqueror. He comes to live among us in all things, except sin, to offer us God’s bountiful blessings, the forgiveness of sins and a chance to experience how it is to live in the reign of God’s kingdom. Miracles do happen if we have faith like that of the centurion, even if we are sinners and if we are humble enough to offer to the Lord our limitations, confess our need for divine providence, and welcome Jesus in our lives.
St. Francis Xavier
1st Reading: Is 11:1-10:
On that day, A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A Spirit of counsel and of strength, a Spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord. Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, but he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them. The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox. The baby shall play by the cobra’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair. There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord, as water covers the sea. On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.
Gospel: Lk 10:21-24:
Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and made them known to little ones. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. I have been given all things by my Father, so that no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and he to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said to them privately, “Fortunate are you to see what you see, for I tell you, that many prophets and kings would have liked to see what you see, but did not see it; and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
The readings remind us of the great privilege we have through our encounter with Jesus – that is, eternal happiness! The joy of being a true disciple is born out of an encounter with the Lord, the way, the truth and the life. We could only find meaning and happiness in everything we do if we truly encounter Jesus in our lives. There is a sense of fulfillment and meaning in every missionary work if we are filled with the presence of Jesus.
What more could we ask if we are able to see him, to hear him? So that in seeing and hearing him, we may come to believe and do what he wants from us. This is the challenge for us now: with our knowledge of Jesus comes the responsibility of sharing it with others, of bringing others to him and letting them experience the gift of blessedness and solitude with Jesus.
St. John Damascene
1st Reading: Is 25:6-10a:
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples A feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines. On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations; he will destroy death forever. The Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces; the reproach of his people he will remove from the whole earth; for the Lord has spoken.
On that day it will be said: “Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the Lord for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!” For the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain.
Gospel: Mt 15:29-37:
From there, Jesus went to the shore of Lake Galilee, and then went up into the hills where he sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing the dumb, the blind, the lame, the crippled, and many with other infirmities. People carried them to the feet of Jesus, and he healed them. All were astonished when they saw the dumb speaking, the lame walking, the crippled healed and the blind able to see; so they glorified the God of Israel. Jesus called his disciples and said to them, “I am filled with compassion for these people; they have already followed me for three days and now have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away fasting, or they may faint on the way.”
His disciples said to him, “And where shall we find enough bread in this wilderness to feed such a crowd?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They answered, “Seven, and a few small fish.” Jesus ordered the people to sit on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the small fish and gave thanks to God. He broke them and gave them to his disciples, who distributed them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the leftover broken pieces filled seven wicker baskets.
This is the Good News for us all today: God is generous, super abundant in mercy and compassion. With much gusto, Jesus healed them all and the crowds were amazed at these miracles. We could see and feel a glimpse of the Lord’s inferiority, his inner life, his heart: full of compassion and desire to heed the needs of the poor. Prophet Isaiah is truly correct in his prophesy in the first reading. God would provide for all peoples a feast, a banquet of rich food and choicest wines.
He would destroy death forever and wipe away the tears from all faces forever. Indeed, how good it is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life (Ps 23)! Jesus did not distribute the food himself, but the disciples. Now, as a disciple of the Lord, am I generous enough in distributing or sharing the good things that the Lord has lavished on me? Or have I become selfish in sharing whatever is abundant in me? Christmas is a time of giving and sharing. Christ came to give us the good things that God wanted to share with us. Am I ready to accept him and share him to others?
1st Reading: Is 26:1-6:
On that day they will sing this song in the land of Judah: “A strong city have we; he sets up walls and ramparts to protect us. Open up the gates to let in a nation that is just, one that keeps faith. A nation of firm purpose you keep in peace; in peace, for its trust in you.”
Trust in the Lord forever! For the Lord is an eternal Rock. He humbles those in high places, and the lofty city he brings down; He tumbles it to the ground, levels it with the dust. It is trampled underfoot by the needy, by the footsteps of the poor.
Gospel: Mt 7:21, 24-27:
Jesus said to his disciples, “Not everyone who says to me: Lord! Lord! Will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my heavenly Father. “So, then, anyone who hears these words of mine and acts accordingly is like a wise man, who built his house on rock. The rain poured, the rivers flooded, and the wind blew and struck that house, but it did not collapse because it was built on rock. But anyone who hears these words of mine and does not act accordingly, is like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain poured, the rivers flooded, and the wind blew and struck that house; it collapsed, and what a terrible fall that was!”
This proclamation is something ironic. If this is the case, something might be wrong or lacking in my devotions and prayers. Faith without good works is dead, as Saint James would tell us (James 2:17). The good works that we could always do every day is to do the will of the Father, to listen to his words and act on them religiously. The Father’s will is that we be filled with the spirit of the Kingdom and work to make that Kingdom a reality in our world.
Act of charity is the heart and foundation of our faith in God. Charity hinges our faith in God and the actions we make to our neighbors. Our pious devotions ought to be accompanied always with corporal and spiritual works of mercy, out of love, out of charity. If we are able to do that, then we are like a strong city, a nation of firm purpose that is kept in peace, a house built upon a solid rock, so that whatever calamity would strike it, it would stand still until the end of time.
1st Reading: Is 29:17-24:
Thus says the Lord God: But a very little while, and Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard, and the orchard be regarded as a forest! On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book; and out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see. The lowly will ever find joy in the Lord, and the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. For the tyrant will be no more and the arrogant will have gone; all who are alert to do evil will be cut off, those whose mere word condemns a man, who ensnare his defender at the gate, and leave the just man with an empty claim.
Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of the house of Jacob, who redeemed Abraham: now Jacob shall have nothing to be ashamed of, nor shall his face grow pale. When his children see the work of my hands in his midst, they shall keep my name holy; they shall reverence the Holy One of Jacob, and be in awe of the God of Israel. Those who err in spirit shall acquire understanding, and those who find fault shall receive instruction.
Gospel: Mt 9:27-31:
As Jesus moved on from there, two blind men followed him, shouting, “Son of David, help us!” When he was about to enter the house, the blind men caught up with him; and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do what you want?” They answered, “Yes, sir!” Then Jesus touched their eyes and said, “As you have believed, so let it be.” And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus gave them a stern warning, “Be careful that no one knows about this.” But as soon as they went away, they spread the news about him through the whole area.
To really hear and see the wondrous things of the Lord, we need to have faith. The two blind men have this when they called out to Jesus. When they approached the Lord, Jesus asked them, “Do you believe that I can do this?” “Yes, Lord!” Without their total trust and faith in him, Jesus cannot do anything for them. Their sight was restored. But, more than this, their life was redeemed and they were able to see clearly the content of their faith: Jesus, the Messiah!
Their life of gloom and darkness has been filled now with light and joy. Their joy was so overwhelming that they could not contain it. And so they shared and spread the Good News of Salvation they received. We are reminded of our own blindness and our need for God. How many times have I become deaf and blind of the presence of Jesus in my life? Christmas is all about recognizing that Jesus was born for us to see and appreciate how great and marvelous is the love of God for humanity. Seek Jesus in others. Share Jesus with others and your Christmas would be filled with many wonderful things of the Lord.
1st Reading: Is 30:19-21, 23-26:
Thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: O people of Zion, who dwell in Jerusalem, no more will you weep; He will be gracious to you when you cry out, as soon as he hears he will answer you. The Lord will give you the bread you need and the water for which you thirst. No longer will your Teacher hide himself, but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher, while from behind, a voice shall sound in your ears: “This is the way; walk in it,” when you would turn to the right or to the left.
He will give rain for the seed that you sow in the ground, and the wheat that the soil produces will be rich and abundant. On that day your flock will be given pasture and the lamb will graze in spacious meadows; the oxen and the asses that till the ground will eat silage tossed to them with shovel and pitchfork. Upon every high mountain and lofty hill there will be streams of running water. On the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall, the light of the moon will be like that of the sun and the light of the sun will be seven times greater like the light of seven days. On the day the Lord binds up the wounds of his people, he will heal the bruises left by his blows.
Gospel: Mt 9:35–10:1, 5a, 6-8:
Jesus went around all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom; and he cured every sickness and disease. When he saw the crowds, he was moved with pity; for they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are only few. Ask the master of the harvest to send workers to gather his harvest.”
Jesus called his twelve disciples to him, and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to drive them out, and to heal every disease and sickness. Jesus sent these Twelve on mission, with the instructions: “Do not visit pagan territory and do not enter a Samaritan town. Go, instead, to the lost sheep of the people of Israel. Go, and proclaim this message: The kingdom of heaven is near. Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons. Freely have you received, freely give.
Jesus is constantly on the move, teaching in synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom and curing every disease and illness. Jesus has deep compassion on all those who are like sheep without a shepherd. When we were baptized, we become coworkers in the vineyard of the Lord. Every one of us is called to be a laborer with the Lord. I could be the only one who could reach a corner of my own part in the harvest field: my family, my neighbors, my office mates and others who came into my life.
I may be the only person who could bring Jesus’ healing and compassion into their lives. Let them know that Christmas is all about sharing in the works of Jesus. Heal those sick friends by your sympathy and support. Give life and vigor to them. They are physically alive but they have stopped living wonderful and meaningful lives. Let them know that they are accepted and loved by God. The spirit of Christmas impels us to act on our baptismal promises as coworkers of the Lord. Be a gift to others. Share the spirit of Christmas by your own spiritual and corporal works of mercy.