Bible Diary for February 9th – 15th

February 9th

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

1st Reading: Is 58:7-10:
Fast by sharing your food with the hungry, bring to your house the homeless, clothe the one you see naked and do not turn away from your own kin Then will your light break forth as the dawn and your healing come in a flash. Your righteousness will be your vanguard, the glory of Yahweh your rearguard.

Then you will call and Yahweh will answer, you will cry and he will say, I am here. If you remove from your midst the yoke,the clenched fist and the wicked word, if you share your food with the hungry and give relief to the oppressed, then your light will rise in the dark,your night will be like noon.

2nd Reading: 1 Cor 2:1-5:
When I came to reveal to you the mystery of God’s plan, I did not count on eloquence or on a show of learning. I was determined, not to know anything among you, but Jesus, the Messiah, and a crucified Messiah. I, myself, came; weak, fearful and trembling; my words, and preaching, were not brilliant, or clever to win listeners. It was, rather, a demonstration of spirit and power, so, that, your faith might be a matter, not of human wisdom, but of God’s power.

Gospel: Mt 5:13-16:
You are the salt of the earth. But if salt has lost its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It has become useless. It can only be thrown away and people will trample on it. You are the light of the world. A city built on a mountain cannot be hid den. No one lights a lamp and covers it; instead, it is put on a lamp stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, your light must shine before others, so that they may see the good you do, and praise your Father in heaven.

Jesus was teaching his disciples by using metaphorical language. It forced them to think and apply the metaphors of salt and light into their own following of the Lord. The Teacher led them to reflect upon themselves and came up with their own answers. This method empowers the learners by not being passive but active participants in the learning process in the search for truth. The Jesus pedagogy is not one of spoon-feeding. It invites the students to be active partners in the learning process.

February 10th

St. Scholastica

1st Reading: 1 K 8:1–7, 9–13:
Then Solomon assembled before him in Jerusalem the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, as well as the leaders of the ancestral houses of the Israelites, to bring up the Ark of the Covenant of Yahweh from the city of David, which is Zion. All the Israelites assembled near king Solomon in the month of Ethanim, the seventh month.

When all the elders of Israel arrived, the priests carried the Ark of Yahweh and brought it up together with the Tent of Meeting and all the holy vessels that were in the tent. After the priests and Levites had brought them up, king Solomon with the entire congregation of Israel that had assembled before him and were with him before the Ark, sacrificed so many sheep and oxen that they could neither be counted nor numbered.

Then the priests laid the Ark of the Covenant of Yahweh in its place in the inner Sanctuary of the house—the Most Holy Place—underneath the wings of the cherubim. The cherubim had their wings spread out over the place of the ark, providing a covering above the Ark and its poles.  There was nothing in the Ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses placed there at Horeb, where Yahweh made a Covenant with the Israelites when they came out of the land of Egypt.

And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, such a cloud filled Yahweh’s house that the priests could not continue to minister. Indeed, the glory of Yahweh filled his house. Then Solomon said, “Yahweh has said that he would dwell in thick darkness. So the house I have built you will be your house, a place for you to dwell in forever.”

Gospel: Mk 6:53–56:
Having crossed the lake, they came ashore at Gennesaret, where they tied up the boat. As soon as they landed, people recognized Jesus, and ran to spread the news throughout the countryside. Wherever he was, they brought to him the sick lying on their mats; and wherever he went, to villages, towns or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplace, and begged him to let them touch just the fringe of his cloak. And all who touched him were cured.

Now Jesus has a following. His name precedes Him wherever He goes. The life of the simple carpenter’s son is changed forever. Yet, did this newfound fame change His person? It seemed that Jesus remained steady throughout His rise from obscurity to fame, and from fame to notoriety. It didn’t change His person a bit.

It only showed the tremendous inner resources He had that kept His inner balance intact amidst the changes in His life. Life’s surprises did not change Him. It is He who showed how we can handle our ever-changing life experience by holding on to what we have inside.

February 11th

Our Lady of Lourdes

1st Reading: 1 K 8:22–23, 27–30:
Solomon stood before the altar of Yahweh in the presence of all the assembly of Israel. He raised his hands towards heaven and said, “O Yahweh, God of Israel, there is no God like you either in heaven or on earth! You keep your covenant and show loving- kindness to your servants who walk before you wholeheartedly. But will God really live among people on earth? If neither heavens nor the highest heavens can contain you, how much less can this House which I have built!

Yet, listen to the prayer and supplication of your servant, O Yahweh my God; hearken to the cries and pleas which your servant directs to you this day. Watch over this House of which you have said, ‘My name shall rest there.’ Hear the prayer of your servant in this place. Listen to the supplication of your servant and your people Israel when they pray in this direction; listen from your dwelling place in heaven and, on listening, forgive.

Gospel: Mk 7:1–13:
One day the Pharisees gathered around Jesus and with them were some teachers of the Law who had just come from Jerusalem. They noticed that some of his disciples were eating their meal with unclean hands, that is, without washing them. Now the Pharisees, and in fact, all the Jews, never eat without washing their hands for they follow the tradition received from their ancestors.

Nor do they eat anything when they come from the market without first washing themselves. And there are many other traditions they observe, for example, the ritual washing of cups, pots and plates. So the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law asked him, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders, but eat with unclean hands?”

Jesus answered, “You, shallow people! How well Isaiah prophesied of you when he wrote: This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. The worship they offer me is worthless, for what they teach are only human rules. You even put aside the commandment of God to hold fast to human tradition.”

And Jesus commented, “You have a fine way of disregarding the commandment of God in order to implant your own tradition. For example, Moses said: Do your duty to your father and your mother, and: Whoever curses his father or his mother is to be put to death. But according to you someone could say to his father or mother: ‘I already declared Corban, which means “offered to God,” what you could have expected from me.’ In this case, you no longer let him do anything for a father or mother. So you nullify the word of God through the tradition you have handed on. And you do many other things like that.”

It is not simply in keeping the laws of an institution that sanctifies us; it is keeping good laws that matters. And good law, Jesus is clear, is what makes both love of God and love of neighbor plain for all to see.

February 12th

1st Reading: 1 K 10:1-10:
The queen of Sheba heard about Solomon’s fame, and came to test him with difficult questions. She arrived in Jerusalem with a vast retinue and with camels loaded with spices and an abundance of gold and precious stones. When she came to Solomon, she told him all that she had on her mind and Solomon answered all her questions.

There was nothing that the king could not explain to her. And when the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the palace he had built, the food on his table, the residence of his officials, the attendance of his servants and their clothing, his cupbearers, and the burnt offerings which he offered at Yahweh’s house, it left her breathless.

Then she said to the king, “All that I heard in my own land concerning you and your wisdom was true. But I did not believe the reports until I came and saw with my own eyes. And what did I see! I was told only half the story; for your wisdom and wealth surpass the report I heard. Fortunate are your wives! Fortunate are your servants who are ever in your presence and hear your wisdom!

Blessed be Yahweh your God, who has looked kindly on you and has put you on the throne of Israel! Because of Yahweh’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king so that you may dispense justice and righteousness.” Then she gave the king a hundred and twenty talents of gold, spices in abundance, and precious stones. Such an abundance of spices as those which the queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon was never again seen.

Gospel: Mark 7:14-23:
Jesus then called the people to him again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and try to understand. Nothing that enters a person from the outside can make that person unclean. It is what comes from within that makes a person unclean. Let everyone who has ears listen.” When Jesus got home and was away from the crowd, his disciples asked him about this saying, and he replied, “So even you are dull? Do you not see that whatever comes from outside cannot make a person unclean, since it enters not the heart but the stomach, and is finally passed out?”

Thus Jesus declared that all foods are clean. And he went on, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him, for evil designs come out of the heart: theft, murder, adultery, jealousy, greed, maliciousness, deceit, indecency, slander, pride and folly. All these evil things come from within and make a person unclean.”

Each culture has their taboos connected to food. This is a testament to, more than a critique of, the very important role food has in our daily lives. We recreate ourselves everyday by the nourishment we take in. That is why people are so concerned with what food they take in because it becomes part of them; it is absorbed by the body. But Jesus declared all food to be good.

They are not the cause of our moral lapses and defects. When taken in moderation they contribute to our wellbeing. What prompts us to do evil is what is stored in the heart and not in the stomach. Thus we have to take extra care of the nourishments we give to our hearts as much as we are attentive to the food we take to feed our body.

February 13th

1st Reading: 1 K 11:4–13:
In Solomon’s old age, his wives led him astray to serve other gods and, unlike his father David, his heart was no longer wholly given to Yahweh his God. For he served Astarte the goddess of the Sidonians, and Milcom, the idol of the Ammonites. He did what displeased Yahweh and, unlike his father David, was unfaithful to him.

Solomon even built a high place for Chemosh, the idol of Moab, on the mountain east of Jerusalem and also for Molech, the idol of the Ammonites. He did the same for all his foreign wives who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods.

Yahweh became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from Yahweh, the God of Israel. Yahweh appeared to him twice and commanded him not to follow other gods. But he did not obey Yahweh’s command.

Therefore, Yahweh said to Solomon, “Since this has been your choice and you have kept neither my Covenant nor the statutes I commanded you, I will take the kingdom from you and give it to your servant. Nevertheless, I will not do this during your lifetime for the sake of your father David; I will take it from your son. But I will not take it all; I will reserve one tribe for your son for the sake of David my servant, and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen.”

Gospel: Mk 7:24–30:
When Jesus left that place, he went to the border of the Tyrian country. There, he entered a house, and did not want anyone to know he was there; but he could not remain hidden. A woman, whose small daughter had an evil spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet. Now this woman was a pagan, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter.

Jesus told her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the puppies.” But she replied, “Sir, even the puppies under the table eat the crumbs from the children’s bread.” Then Jesus said to her, “You may go your way; because of such a response, the demon has gone out of your daughter.” And when the woman went home, she found her child lying in bed, and the demon gone.

The greater the need, the stronger should be our persistence. This was shown by the Syrophoenician woman who did not flinch at the implied rejection of her request by Jesus. What she begged was not for her, it was for her daughter; thus she could put her own pride at stake because it was her concern for others that made her determined.

If it is for ourselves what we ask for, we are prone to sensitivity and personalize the negative response. But if it is for others, we tend to forget the self because we are focused on the other. Thus to love outside of ourselves make us stronger, more resilient, more firm in our resolve. We become better. Love allows us to surpass our narrow-mindedness and narcissism. Love amplifies our strength to the maximum.

February 14th

St. Valentine
Sts. Cyril and Methodius

1st Reading: 1 K 11:29–32; 12:19:
Once, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, the prophet Ahijah of Shiloh found him on the road. The two of them were alone in the open country when Ahijah, who had a new garment on, clutched and tore it into twelve pieces.

He then said to Jeroboam, “Take ten pieces for yourself for this is the word of Yahweh, the God of Israel: ‘I am about to tear the kingdom from Solomon’s hands to give you ten tribes. Only one tribe shall be left to him for the sake of my servant David and Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel. So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to the present time.

Gospel: Mk 7:31–37:
Again, Jesus set out: from the country of Tyre he passed through Sidon and, skirting the sea of Galilee, he came to the territory of Decapolis. There, a deaf man, who also had difficulty in speaking, was brought to him. They asked Jesus to lay his hand upon him. Jesus took him apart from the crowd, put his fingers into the man’s ears, and touched his tongue with spittle. Then, looking up to heaven, he said with a deep sigh, “Ephphata!” that is, “Be opened!”

And immediately, his ears were opened, his tongue was loosened, and he began to speak clearly. Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone about it; but the more he insisted, the more they proclaimed it. The people were completely astonished and said, “He has done all things well; he makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.”

Anything that is closed presents a wall, and an obstacle that impedes our capacity to move forward. It represents a hindrance. The deaf and speech-impaired man in our Gospel is tormented by a formidable barrier before he can enjoy a meaningful life. He has difficulty expressing his thoughts and feelings and his capacity to understand others is hindered by his inability to hear. Thus his ears and tongue must be loosened from the bond that ties them down.

He must be liberated from his physical chains of disability. Jesus opened that which had been closed for some time. This is His specialty. Anything that has calcified, hardened or been barred for a long time does not have a chance to stop Him. Even the gates of death could not hold Him. “Ephpheta,” “be opened” my heart and mind to the things of God. Stop feigning sleep.

February 15th

1st Reading: 1 K 12:26–32; 13:33–34:
Jeroboam thought, “The kingdom could return to the house of David. Should this people go up to offer sacrifices in Yahweh’s house in Jerusalem, their heart would turn again to their master, Rehoboam king of Judah. They would kill me and go back to him.” And so the king sought advice and made two golden calves.

Then he said to the people, “You have been going up to Jerusalem long enough. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” He put one of these in Bethel, the other in Dan. This caused Israel to sin; the people went to Bethel and Dan to worship the calves.

Jeroboam also built temples on high places, appointing priests who were not from the Levites. Jeroboam also appointed a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month in imitation of the feast in Judah, and he himself offered sacrifices on the altar. This he did in Bethel; and sacrificed to the calves that he had made.

There he placed priests for the high places he had made. After this, however, Jeroboam did not abstain from doing evil. Instead he made priests for the high places from among the people. He consecrated anyone who wanted to be a priest for the high places. And this became the sin of the family of Jeroboam for which it was to be cut off and destroyed from the face of the earth.

Gospel: Mk 8:1–10:
Soon afterward, Jesus was in the midst of another large crowd, that obviously had nothing to eat. So he called his disciples and said to them, “I feel sorry for these people, because they have been with me for three days and now have nothing to eat. If I send them to their homes hungry, they will faint on the way; some of them have come a long way.” His disciples replied, “Where, in a deserted place like this, could we get enough bread to feed these people?” He asked them, “How many loaves have you?” And they answered, “Seven.”

Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Taking the seven loaves and giving thanks, he broke them, and handed them to his disciples to distribute. And they distributed them among the people. They also had some small fish. So Jesus said a blessing, and asked that these be shared as well. The people ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Now those who had eaten were about four thousand in number. Jesus sent them away, and immediately got into the boat with his disciples, and went to the region of Dalmanutha.

Jesus never dwells only on the problem at hand. He also looks for solutions or makes one. Thus the problem of food and distance from its source did not stop Him from addressing the present concern. He did not answer their problem with another problem.

He asked the apostles for their resources first and from there crafted His response. He did not lament the fact that they had too little. What was there He multiplied. The people had their fill with much to spare. Jesus finds ways to address unexpected problems. He does great things because the word “impossible” is not part of His vocabulary.