Bible Diary for December 3rd – December 9th
1st Sunday of Advent
St. Francis Xavier
1st Reading: Is 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7:
You, Lord, are our father, our redeemer you are named forever. Why do you let us wander, O Lord, from your ways, and harden our hearts so that we fear you not? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage. Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, with the mountains quaking before you, while you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for, such as they had not heard of from of old. No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you doing such deeds for those who wait for him.
Would that you might meet us doing right, that we were mindful of you in our ways! Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful; all of us have become like unclean people, all our good deeds are like polluted rags; we have all withered like leaves, and our guilt carries us away like the wind. There is none who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to cling to you; for you have hidden your face from us and have delivered us up to our guilt. Yet, O Lord, you are our father; we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands.
2nd Reading: 1 Cor 1:3-9:
Brothers and sisters: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge, as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Gospel: Mk 13:33-37:
Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”
Vigilance makes us ready for anything. We will not be caught surprised and unaware. This is the admonition of the Lord to all His followers. In this world there are many temptations to slacken or even relax our principles drawn from the gospel. So many philosophies of life compete with the teachings of the Lord. They are seductive, very tempting and pleasing to our senses. It is only with the greatest vigilance that we can tear ourselves away sometimes from their hypnotic spell.
We have to keep our gaze firmly on the Lord who will come. Meanwhile, we prepare. May the Lord see us awake when He comes again in His glory. Have I been vigilant in my work? Am I mindful and aware of what I do? This can be seen in the quality of my work output. Perhaps today, I will try to be more aware and mindful with what I do, and put heart and soul into it, no matter how small my work seem. Those who will benefit will find it delightful.
St. John Damascene
1st Reading: Is 2:1-5:
This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz, saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In days to come, the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. All nations shall stream toward it; many peoples shall come and say: “Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.” For from Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!
Gospel: Mt 8:5-11:
When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven.”
The impassioned plea of the Roman officer has become the prayer that we say before receiving Holy Communion. No earthly food can truly satisfy our hunger, no earthly drink can quench our thirst. Only the Holy Eucharist can fill the void that is within us, for only the Lord Jesus can heal the soul. The servant of that man of great faith was healed by the word given by Jesus. We rightly place our trust in His Holy Word that is given to us through the scriptures and the breaking of the bread, the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
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 lands 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 rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” Turning to the disciples in private he said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
Spontaneous joy is a beauty to behold. It moves us to thanksgiving to the Ultimate Source of our joy, God Himself. Jesus’ joy is not for Himself. It is for the little ones to whom the Father has revealed the things kept from the wise and the learned. It is for His disciples who have seen and heard what the great kings and prophets of old had yearned for but were not able to. In short, the locus of Jesus’ joy is not the self but the others. This invites us to take genuine joy at the blessings others receive. It is to rejoice with them for their blessing is a testimony that God still walks in our land. To be genuinely happy for the good fortune of others is to show our contentment with our own blessings received from the same God.
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:
At that time: Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, went up on the mountain, and sat down there. Great crowds came to him, having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others. They placed them at his feet, and he cured them. The crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the deformed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind able to see, and they glorified the God of Israel. Jesus summoned his disciples and said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, for they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, for fear they may collapse on the way.”
The disciples said to him, “Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place to satisfy such a crowd?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” “Seven,” they replied, “and a few fish.” He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets full.
This is a beautiful episode of healing and feeding. Jesus was not only concerned with their physical infirmities and hunger, He also dealt with their spiritual maladies and want. Thus He is not a social worker dealing with earthly problems, nor a spiritual leader concerned only with the spiritual being of those around Him but the Lord and Savior who comes to bring wholeness and completeness to persons. The disciples didn’t know this yet. They are still at a loss with regard to their Master’s mission. Thus they continuously misunderstand Him. It is only through the Lord’s patient mentoring that the disciples will understand that what Jesus does here on earth anticipates the things that will come in the future.
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 only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”
It is not what we profess but what we do based on what we believe that matters. For words bereft of action are empty words, like sterile seeds that can never germinate and bear fruit. But even though action speaks louder than words, it will still be open to misinterpretation if we do not explain our actions through the spoken words. It is because of this that both have a role to play in having a clear solid faith. But a faith-based action is not easy. It is painstaking labor like putting up the house together brick by brick. It gains solidity only as we do the will of the Father one at a time. Storms will come but every time we hold on, we gain strength in doing what is right until it becomes part of our being.
Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary
1st Reading: Gn 3:9-15, 20:
After the man, Adam, had eaten of the tree, the Lord God called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself.” Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked? You have eaten, then, from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!” The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.”
The Lord God then asked the woman, “Why did you do such a thing?” The woman answered, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.” Then the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you shall be banned from all the animals and from all the wild creatures; on your belly shall you crawl, and dirt shall you eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” The man called his wife Eve, because she became the mother of all the living.
2nd Reading: Eph 1:3-6, 11-12:
Brothers and sisters: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved. In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ.
Gospel: Lk 1:26-38:
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Mary had a reason to rejoice on that blessed day when the angel Gabriel first brought the news to her. She was entrusted with a ministry that God had never asked before from any of the great personalities in the Old Testament. The divine confidence rests on the fragile shoulder of a girl-child of perhaps fourteen or fifteen years of age. Many speak about the obedience and docility of the Blessed Virgin. But few ever talk about her courage. To be chosen as the Mother of the Son of the Most High is a tall order. Yet, this simple maiden did not hesitate and carried the ministry with quiet courage and dignity. No wonder she was blessed among women. She was blessed with uncommon valor not found in anyone who preceded her.
St. Juan Diego
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 to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” Then he summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus, “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”
Projects succeed when there is focus and depth. This is the lesson we can glean from the Gospel today. Jesus saw the overwhelming need of the people. He knew He could not do it alone. He therefore empowered His disciples to replicate what He had been doing and entrusted them with responsibilities that would amplify His reach to people in need. But He cautioned them to limit themselves first to the lost sheep of Israel. They had to focus on what was possible to do. This ensures that little by little, the Kingdom of God expands day by day, slowly but surely.