Bible Diary for December 29th – January 4th

December 29th

The Holy Family
St. Thomas Becket

1st Reading: Sir 3:2-6, 12-14:
For the Lord established that children should respect their father; he confirmed the right of the mother over her children. Whoever honors his father atones for his sins; he who gives glory to his mother prepares a treasure for himself. Whoever honors his father will receive joy from his own children and will be heard when he prays.

Whoever glorifies his father will have a long life. Whoever obeys the Lord gives comfort to his mother. My child, take care of your father in his old age, do not cause him sorrow as long as he lives. Even if he has lost his mind, have patience; do not be disrespectful to him while you are in full health. For kindness done to one’s father will never be forgotten, it will serve as reparation for your sins.

2nd Reading: Col 3:12-17:
Clothe yourselves, then, as is fitting for God’s chosen people, holy and beloved of him. Put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience to bear with one another, and forgive, whenever there is any occasion to do so. As the Lord has forgiven you, forgive one another. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

May the peace of Christ overflow in your hearts; for this end you were called, to be one body. And be thankful. Let the word of God dwell in you, in all its richness. Teach and admonish one another with words of wisdom. With thankful hearts, sing to God psalms, hymns and spontaneous praise. And whatever you do or say, do it in the Name of Jesus, the Lord, giving thanks to God, the Father, through him.

Gospel: Mt 2:13-15, 19-23:
After the wise men had left, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod will soon be looking for the child in order to kill him.” Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. In this way, what the Lord had said through the prophet was fulfilled: I called my son out of Egypt.

After Herod’s death, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go back to the land of Israel, because those who tried to kill the child are dead.” So Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when Joseph heard that Archilaus had succeeded his father Herod as king of Judea, he was afraid to go there. Joseph was given further instructions in a dream, and went to the region of Galilee. There he settled, in a town called Nazareth. In this way, what was said by the prophets was fulfilled: He shall be called a Nazarene.

Whenever we come to celebrate the feast of the Holy Family, we cannot but ask ourselves whether we can really pattern our own families to that of the Holy Family. Whether we can become good parents like Mary and Joseph. Or whether we can really approximate our families to become holy families. Our Gospel in today’s feast tells us about what Joseph did to Mary and Jesus, the family of Nazareth. Among other things, Joseph following the dictate of the angel in his dream to distance away the baby Jesus from all the dangers brought about by the evil plan of Herod.

This feast invites us to have a gaze into the Holy Family. Take it as model of our families as well. Our families today are not exempt of the many dangers attacking herself. Our second reading invites us to fortify our families: “put on love, that is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you are called in one body”. May the Holy Family continue to be our guide and inspiration as we take the sojourn of family life.

December 30th

1st Reading: 1 Jn 2:12-17:
I am writing to you, children, because your sins have been forgiven for his name’s sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have conquered the Evil One. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong and the word of God remains in you, and you have conquered the Evil One.

Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world. Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever.

Gospel: Lk 2:36-40:
There was also a prophetess named Anna, daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. After leaving her father’s home, she had been seven years with her husband; and since then, she had been continually about the temple, serving God, as a widow, night and day, in fasting and prayer. She was now eighty-four.

Coming up at that time, she gave praise to God, and spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem. When the parents had fulfilled all that was required by the law of the Lord, they returned to their town, Nazareth in Galilee. There, the child grew in stature and strength, and was filled with wisdom: the grace of God was upon him.

When I see aged people going to Church, I find myself seeking for the same strength. They lived their lives, survived its challenges, and preserved their faith. I wonder on their lives’ stories but I am certain that their faith matured through time. Looking at the readings, St. John counselled the followers of Jesus to hold unto him with perseverance.

In Christian Life, temptations abound and misleading teachings sprout. It is in this spirit that the apostle exhorts them to hold fast to the faith. Like Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, who persevered until she saw Jesus, we are also invited to persevere in God’s love at all times and in all places. We pray that even in the most trying times, we would hold on to Jesus and trust in his merciful love.

December 31st

St. Sylvester I

1st Reading: 1 Jn 2:18-21:
Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. Thus we know this is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of our number; if they had been, they would have remained with us.

Their desertion shows that none of them was of our number. But you have the anointing that comes from the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you not because you do not know the truth but because you do, and because every lie is alien to the truth.

Gospel: Jn 1:1-18:
In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God; he was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him nothing came to be. Whatever has come to be, found life in him; life, which for human beings, was also light, light that shines in darkness, light that darkness could not overcome. A man came, sent by God; his name was John. He came to bear witness, as a witness to introduce the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but a witness to introduce the Light; for the Light was coming into the world, the true Light that enlightens everyone. (…)

He came to his own, yet his own people did not receive him; but to all who received him, he empowers to become children of God, for they believe in his name. (…) And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us; and we have seen his glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father: fullness of truth and loving-kindness. John bore witness to him openly saying, “This is the one who comes after me, but he is already ahead of me, for he was before me.“ From his fullness we have all received, favor upon favor. For God had given us the law through Moses, but Truth and Lovingkindness came through Jesus Christ. (…)

When disasters are about to happen, a government agency usually takes the lead to warn citizens of the ill effects of an impending calamity, either through media or other means of communication. They would gather the people, inform them and warn them. Today’s first reading explains to us an impending disaster in faith being witnessed by John. Thus, he warns the Christians of his time of the antichrist and defectors in the faith (cf 1 John 12).

The early Christians needed to address the doctrinal concerns which bother them. The Gospel defines their faith in Jesus, in a very succinct and clear presentation. It says “and the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us”. May we always take comfort in the faith transmitted to us by the Church, study it in our hearts and be grateful for this faith forever.

January 1st

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

1st Reading: Num 6:22-27:
Then Yahweh spoke to Moses saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons and say to them: This is how you shall bless the people of Israel; you shall say: May Yahweh bless you and keep you! May Yahweh let his face shine on you, and be gracious to you! May Yahweh look kindly on you, and give you his peace! In that way shall they put my name on the people of Israel and I will bless them.”

2nd Reading: Gal 4:4-7:
But when the fullness of time came, God sent his Son. He came, born of woman, and subject to the law, in order to redeem the subjects of the law, that we might receive adoption, as children of God. And because you are children, God has sent into your hearts, the spirit of his Son, who cries out: Abba! that is, Father! You, yourself, are no longer a slave, but a son or daughter, and yours is the inheritance, by God’s grace.

Gospel: Lk 2:16-21:
So they came hurriedly, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the feeding trough. On seeing him, they related what they had been told about the child; and all were astonished on hearing the shepherds. As for Mary, she treasured all these words, and pondered them in her heart.

The shepherds then returned giving glory and praise to God for all they had heard and seen, just as the angels had told them. On the eighth day, the circumcision of the baby had to be performed; he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

The year begins with the message of blessing. God’s blessing comes to us through the mediation of people around us–like the instrumentality of Moses, Aaron, and Mary. We are, in turn, called to be carriers of this blessing into the lives of others–like the shepherds did. Am I ready to be a conduit of God’s blessing? Baby Jesus, bless me and make my life a blessing for the people around me.

January 2nd

St. Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen

1st Reading: 1 Jn 2:22-28:
Who is the liar? The one who denies that Jesus is the Christ. This is an antichrist, who denies both the Father and the Son. The one who denies the Son is without the Father, and those who acknowledge the Son also have the Father. Let what you heard, from the beginning, remain in you. If what you heard from the beginning, remains in you, you too, will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise he, himself, gave us: eternal life.

I write this to you, thinking of those who try to lead you astray. You received from him, an anointing, and it remains in you, so you do not need someone to teach you. His anointing teaches you all things. It speaks the truth and does not lie to you; so remain in him, and keep what he has taught you. And now, my children, live, in him, so that when he appears in his glory, we may be confident, and not ashamed, before him when he comes.

Gospel: Jn 1:19-28:
This was the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites to ask him, “Who are you?” John recognized the truth, and did not deny it. He said, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “Then who are you? Elijah?” He answered, “I am not.” They said, “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Tell us who you are, so that we can give some answer to those who sent us. How do you see yourself?” And John said, quoting the prophet Isaiah, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord!”

Those who had been sent were Pharisees; and they put a further question to John, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are not the Messiah, or Elijah, or the Prophet?” John answered, “I baptize you with water, but among you stands one whom you do not know; although he comes after me, I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandal.” This happened in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Christ Jesus is in our midst! We have been rejoicing in this wonderful mystery since Christmas day! As we start a new year John the Baptist invites us to know more about Jesus. He tells those who came to interview him: “Among you stands one whom you do not know.” It is good to ask ourselves “Do I really know Jesus?” Jesus, the “cute” baby born in the very humble manger in Bethlehem, is the Son of God, the Christ! This truth of our faith was taught and defended by our Saints of today–Basil and Gregory–in their fight against Arianism.

The one who refuses to accept this truth–that Jesus is true God and true man–is an antichrist, says John in our 1st reading! To know Jesus, however, is not only to know what our teachers of the faith teach us. To know Jesus is also to know how we are related personally to Jesus. The question “Do you know Jesus” may be rephrased into “What is your relationship with Jesus?” For John the Baptist, he knew Jesus as the WORD and he saw himself as the VOICE. John would later on say “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (Jn 3:30)

January 3rd

The Most Holy Name of Jesus
St. Genevieve

1st Reading: 1 Jn 2:29–3:6:
You know, that he is the Just One: know, then, that anyone living justly is born of God. See what singular love the Father has for us: we are called children of God, and we really are. This is why the world does not know us, because it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children, and what we shall be has not, yet, been shown. Yet, when he appears in his glory, we know, that we shall be like him, for, then, we shall see him as he is.

All who have such a hope, try to be pure, as he is pure. Anyone who commits a sin, acts as an enemy of the law of God; any sin acts wickedly, because all sin is wickedness. You know, that he came to take away our sins, and that there is no sin in him. Whoever remains in him, has no sin, whoever sins, has not seen, or known him.

Gospel: Jn 1:29-34:
The next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “There is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! It is he of whom I said: A man comes after me, who is already ahead of me, for he was before me. I myself did not know him, but I came baptizing to prepare for him, so that he might be revealed in Israel.”

And John also gave this testimony, “I saw the Spirit coming down on him, like a dove from heaven, and resting on him. I myself did not know him, but God, who sent me to baptize, told me, ‘You will see the Spirit coming down, and resting on the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ Yes, I have seen! And I declare that this is the Chosen One of God!”

The Good News that we celebrate at Christmastime is the “singular love the Father has for us!” The Father, by sending His only begotten Son for us sinners, has revealed His love! We are truly the “BELOVED” of God as St. John writes in our 1st reading. Unfortunately, sometimes we forget this beautiful truth because we have not experienced unconditional love from those who should love us so, or because we feel so unworthy of being loved because of our sins.

John the Baptist directs our attention to the LAMB OF GOD who takes away the sins of the world. What awesome mystery! Jesus, the sinless one, has come and clothed Himself with our sinful human nature so that He might wash us clean of our sins! We must never forget this Good News! For when we were baptized we were sealed in the Holy Name of Jesus! The same Holy Spirit that descended on Jesus is the same Holy Spirit we received at our own baptism marking us forever as “BELOVED” of God!

January 4th

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

1st Reading: 1 Jn 3:7-10:
My little children, do not be led astray; those who do what is right are upright, just as Jesus Christ is upright. But those who sin belong to the devil, for the devil sins from the beginning. This is why the Son of God was shown to us, he was to undo the works of the devil.

Those born of God do not sin, for the seed of God remains in them; they cannot sin, because they are born of God. What is the way to recognize the children of God, and those of the devil? The one, who does not do what is right, is not of God; so, too, the one who does not love his brother or sister.

Gospel: Jn 1:35-42:
On the following day, John was standing there again, with two of his disciples. As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and said, “There is the Lamb of God.” On hearing this, the two disciples followed Jesus. He turned and saw them following, and he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They answered, “Rabbi (which means Master), where are you staying?” Jesus said, “Come and see.” So they went and saw where he stayed, and spent the rest of that day with him.

It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard what John had said, and followed Jesus. Early the next morning, he found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means the Christ), and he brought Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon, son of John, but you shall be called Cephas” (which means Rock).

It often happens that we do not know the way that leads to true happiness and the way to eternal life. Who are we to follow? John the Baptist, the Voice of the Word, tells us to FOLLOW JESUS just as he directed his two disciples. In a decisive moment the two disciples of John became the disciples of Jesus. Initially, they must have followed more out of curiosity. Eventually, as they heeded the invitation of Jesus, “Come and see,” they became DISCIPLES, followers of Jesus. They left John, the Voice, to follow the WORD as their new Rabbi (Master)!

They remembered well even the time of their decision–it was 4 o’clock in the afternoon. They remembered for it was a turning point in their lives! This same Jesus calls for followers even today. Can we remember when we felt the Lord calling us to follow him more closely? Can we remember the moment we truly decided to become his Disciples? When we spend enough time with the Master we cannot but be transformed! Are you ready to commit your life to Jesus as your Master?