Bible Diary for January 14th – January 20th

January 14th

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

1st Reading: 1 Sm 3:3b-10, 19:
Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was. The Lord called to Samuel, who answered, “Here I am.” Samuel ran to Eli and said, “Here I am. You called me.” “I did not call you, ” Eli said. “Go back to sleep.” So he went back to sleep. Again the Lord called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli. “Here I am, ” he said. “You called me.” But Eli answered, “I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep.” At that time Samuel was not familiar with the Lord, because the Lord had not revealed anything to him as yet.

The Lord called Samuel again, for the third time. Getting up and going to Eli, he said, “Here I am. You called me.” Then Eli understood that the Lord was calling the youth. So he said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” When Samuel went to sleep in his place, the Lord came and revealed his presence, calling out as before, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Samuel grew up, and the Lord was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.

2nd Reading: 1 Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20:
Brothers and sisters: The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body; God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one Spirit with him. Avoid immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the immoral person sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.

Gospel: Jn 1:35-42:
John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” — which translated means Teacher —, “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah” — which is translated Christ —. Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas” — which is translated Peter.

How do we follow Jesus? If we have to be true followers of Jesus we have to know him, spend time with him and share about him with as the disciples did. Do I really know Jesus? Do I spend time with Jesus? Do I share Jesus with others? Loving Father, you give us your only begotten Son to show to us the way towards your eternal kingdom. Inspire us to know him better as we read the Bible and as we spend time in nurturing our relationship with one another, sharing the talents and abilities you have given to us for your greater glory and our salvation. Amen. Find time to regularly read the Bible and spend time praying and learning with Jesus in your daily experiences and in your study of the Sacred Scriptures.

January 15th

1st Reading: 1 Sm 15:16-23:
Samuel said to Saul: “Stop! Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.” Saul replied, “Speak!” Samuel then said: “Though little in your own esteem, are you not leader of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king of Israel and sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and put the sinful Amalekites under a ban of destruction. Fight against them until you have exterminated them.’ Why then have you disobeyed the Lord? You have pounced on the spoil, thus displeasing the Lord.”

Saul answered Samuel: “I did indeed obey the Lord and fulfill the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought back Agag, and I have destroyed Amalek under the ban. But from the spoil the men took sheep and oxen, the best of what had been banned, to sacrifice to the Lord their God in Gilgal.” But Samuel said: “Does the Lord so delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obedience to the command of the Lord? Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission than the fat of rams. For a sin like divination is rebellion, and presumption is the crime of idolatry. Because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he, too, has rejected you as ruler.”

Gospel: Mk 2:18-22:
The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast. People came to Jesus and objected, “Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day. No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak. If he does, its fullness pulls away, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”

The Gospel invites us to reflect on three images that illustrate the good news that Jesus offers. These are (1) bridegroom and wedding guests, (2) old garment and new patch, and (3) old wineskins and new wine. The common thread that connects these images is that of newness and joy. At a wedding the cause of joy is not the food or the guests. It is the happy couple embarking on a new life together. Everyone present share in the joy of the new couple. The Gospel uses the image of a wedding to symbolize the good news that Jesus brings, a promise of life in abundance.

Joy is the natural response to such good news. The new dispensation of God’s reign that Jesus inaugurates challenges our old ways of thinking and living, which at times can tend to be legalistic, close-minded, and rigid. These tendencies do not fit the new way of life and relating that Jesus presents to us, like a new patch on an old garment or new wine on old wineskins. Rigidity and close-mindedness can kill the joy that the Gospel brings and stunt the growth of our spiritual life.

January 16th

1st Reading: 1 Sm 16:1-13:
The Lord said to Samuel: “How long will you grieve for Saul, whom I have rejected as king of Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and be on your way. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem, for I have chosen my king from among his sons.” But Samuel replied: “How can I go? Saul will hear of it and kill me.” To this the Lord answered: “Take a heifer along and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I myself will tell you what to do; you are to anoint for me the one I point out to you.” Samuel did as the Lord had commanded him. When he entered Bethlehem, the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and inquired, “Is your visit peaceful, O seer?”

He replied: “Yes! I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. So cleanse yourselves and join me today for the banquet.” He also had Jesse and his sons cleanse themselves and invited them to the sacrifice. As they came, he looked at Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is here before him.” But the Lord said to Samuel: “Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. Not as man sees does God see, because he sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab and presented him before Samuel, who said, “The Lord has not chosen him.” Next Jesse presented Shammah, but Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.”

In the same way Jesse presented seven sons before Samuel, but Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any one of these.” Then Samuel asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” Jesse replied, “There is still the youngest, who is tending the sheep.” Samuel said to Jesse, “Send for him; we will not begin the sacrificial banquet until he arrives here.” Jesse sent and had the young man brought to them. He was ruddy, a youth handsome to behold and making a splendid appearance. The Lord said, “There–anoint him, for this is he!” Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand, anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and from that day on, the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David. When Samuel took his leave, he went to Ramah.

Gospel: Mk 2:23-28:
As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. At this the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?” He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry? How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”

Two issues are being highlighted by the Gospel: hunger and rest. Throughout Scripture, God offers abundance and an end to hunger. Jesus addresses this issue of hunger in connection with the Pharisees’ pervading attitude towards the Sabbath. They only saw one dimension in the incident at the grain fields—the strict observance of the Sabbath law, which was turning the day of rest, as originally intended by God, into a day of spiritual bondage. They did not see that hunger is a reality that needs addressing.

Rest and freedom from bondage are synonymous to shalom—a state of wholeness and flourishing in every dimension of life. Today we see the interconnection of hunger and rest in many situations of impoverishment where people are held in servitude, being denied adequate food and rest. Many poor people deny themselves rest so that they can scour for food to feed their hunger. When God rested on the seventh day of creation, his rest was not one of inactivity or of indifference. God continues to be engaged in the work of providence. We are thus invited to participate in this work so that the hungers of the world may be alleviated.

January 17th

St. Anthony the Great

1st Reading: 1 Sm 17:32-33, 37, 40-51:
David spoke to Saul: “Let your majesty not lose courage. I am at your service to go and fight this Philistine.” But Saul answered David, “You cannot go up against this Philistine and fight with him, for you are only a youth, while he has been a warrior from his youth.” David continued: “The Lord, who delivered me from the claws of the lion and the bear, will also keep me safe from the clutches of this Philistine.” Saul answered David, “Go! the Lord will be with you.” Then, staff in hand, David selected five smooth stones from the wadi and put them in the pocket of his shepherd’s bag. With his sling also ready to hand, he approached the Philistine. With his shield bearer marching before him, the Philistine also advanced closer and closer to David.

When he had sized David up, and seen that he was youthful, and ruddy, and handsome in appearance, the Philistine held David in contempt. The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog that you come against me with a staff?” Then the Philistine cursed David by his gods and said to him, “Come here to me, and I will leave your flesh for the birds of the air and the beasts of the field.” David answered him: “You come against me with sword and spear and scimitar, but I come against you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel that you have insulted. Today the Lord shall deliver you into my hand; I will strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will leave your corpse and the corpses of the Philistine army for the birds of the air and the beasts of the field; thus the whole land shall learn that Israel has a God. All this multitude, too, shall learn that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves. For the battle is the Lord’s and he shall deliver you into our hands.”

The Philistine then moved to meet David at close quarters, while David ran quickly toward the battle line in the direction of the Philistine. David put his hand into the bag and took out a stone, hurled it with the sling, and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone embedded itself in his brow, and he fell prostrate on the ground. Thus David overcame the Philistine with sling and stone; he struck the Philistine mortally, and did it without a sword. Then David ran and stood over him; with the Philistine’s own sword which he drew from its sheath he dispatched him and cut off his head.

Gospel: Mk 3:1-6:
Jesus entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. They watched Jesus closely to see if he would cure him on the sabbath so that they might accuse him. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up here before us.” Then he said to the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” But they remained silent. Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death.

Jesus uses the occasion of his healing the man with a withered hand on a Sabbath to demonstrate his uncompromising commitment to love, compassion and truth against the legalism and close-mindedness of the Pharisees. Being hard hearted and close-minded are not new to humanity. These tendencies attack us when we hold on to something external, such as the Law, as our source of security. These tendencies can lead us to obsess over little things or ideas that do not fit our usual way of thinking and doing.

Jesus’ healing on a Sabbath was to the Pharisees something out of place and against their understanding of the Law. The controversy evokes intense feelings and dark motives. Jesus was filled with “anger and deep sadness,” while the Pharisees were plotting “to destroy Jesus.” Hard hearts produce hard thoughts. We see this in the political arena today: the inability to listen and respect the opposing side and the tendency to malign the reputation of the rival. The same is true in the religious sphere. We can be intolerant of those who think and believe differently from us. Jesus invites us to be open-minded and see the good even in tense filled and unexpected situations.

January 18th

1st Reading: 1 Sm 18:6-9; 19:1-7:
When David and Saul approached (on David’s return after slaying the Philistine), women came out from each of the cities of Israel to meet King Saul, singing and dancing, with tambourines, joyful songs, and sistrums. The women played and sang: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” Saul was very angry and resentful of the song, for he thought: “They give David ten thousands, but only thousands to me. All that remains for him is the kingship.” And from that day on, Saul was jealous of David.

Saul discussed his intention of killing David with his son Jonathan and with all his servants. But Saul’s son Jonathan, who was very fond of David, told him: “My father Saul is trying to kill you. Therefore, please be on your guard tomorrow morning; get out of sight and remain in hiding. I, however, will go out and stand beside my father in the countryside where you are, and will speak to him about you. If I learn anything, I will let you know.”

Jonathan then spoke well of David to his father Saul, saying to him: “Let not your majesty sin against his servant David, for he has committed no offense against you, but has helped you very much by his deeds. When he took his life in his hands and slew the Philistine, and the Lord brought about a great victory for all Israel through him, you were glad to see it. Why, then, should you become guilty of shedding innocent blood by killing David without cause?” Saul heeded Jonathan’s plea and swore, “As the Lord lives, he shall not be killed.” So Jonathan summoned David and repeated the whole conversation to him. Jonathan then brought David to Saul, and David served him as before.

Gospel: Mk 3:7-12:
Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples. A large number of people followed from Galilee and from Judea. Hearing what he was doing, a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon. He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him. He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him. And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, “You are the Son of God.” He warned them sternly not to make him known.

Social sciences have been studying crowd behavior to understand the dynamics when individuals become part of a crowd. They can be swept in the emotion of the moment and lose their individual voice and identity. For instance, we read of fanatic crowds stampeding and trampling people at sports events, or angry crowds destroying property and killing people. Crowds can be exhilarated one moment and ferocious the next. Crowds can be unpredictable and easily manipulated by a few powerful voices. During Jesus’ public ministry, he was dogged by different kinds of crowd; most of them were needy, hungry, and sick. Others followed him because they were attracted to him and his teachings.

Yet, there were others who were perhaps mere thrill-seekers, curious to see another miracle. As his popularity skyrocketed and spread throughout the neighboring provinces, there was no end in sight to crowds milling around him. Jesus knew what happens to individuals when absorbed in a crowd. He took precautions not only for his own wellbeing but perhaps also to give people some space to be aware of why they were following him. If we were to put ourselves in one of these crowds today, why would we be following him?

January 19th

1st Reading: 1 Sm 24:3-21:
Saul took three thousand picked men from all Israel and went in search of David and his men in the direction of the wild goat crags. When he came to the sheepfolds along the way, he found a cave, which he entered to relieve himself. David and his men were occupying the inmost recesses of the cave. David’s servants said to him, “This is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘I will deliver your enemy into your grasp; do with him as you see fit.'” So David moved up and stealthily cut off an end of Saul’s mantle. Afterward, however, David regretted that he had cut off an end of Saul’s mantle. He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, as to lay a hand on him, for he is the Lord’s anointed.”

With these words David restrained his men and would not permit them to attack Saul. Saul then left the cave and went on his way. David also stepped out of the cave, calling to Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked back, David bowed to the ground in homage and asked Saul: “Why do you listen to those who say, ‘David is trying to harm you’? You see for yourself today that the Lord just now delivered you into my grasp in the cave. I had some thought of killing you, but I took pity on you instead. I decided, ‘I will not raise a hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed and a father to me.’ Look here at this end of your mantle which I hold. Since I cut off an end of your mantle and did not kill you, see and be convinced that I plan no harm and no rebellion. I have done you no wrong, though you are hunting me down to take my life. The Lord will judge between me and you, and the Lord will exact justice from you in my case. I shall not touch you.

The old proverb says, ‘From the wicked comes forth wickedness.’ So I will take no action against you. Against whom are you on campaign, O king of Israel? Whom are you pursuing? A dead dog, or a single flea! The Lord will be the judge; he will decide between me and you. May he see this, and take my part, and grant me justice beyond your reach!” When David finished saying these things to Saul, Saul answered, “Is that your voice, my son David?” And Saul wept aloud. Saul then said to David: “You are in the right rather than I; you have treated me generously, while I have done you harm. Great is the generosity you showed me today, when the Lord delivered me into your grasp and you did not kill me. For if a man meets his enemy, does he send him away unharmed? May the Lord reward you generously for what you have done this day. And now, I know that you shall surely be king and that sovereignty over Israel shall come into your possession.”

Gospel: Mk 3:13-19:
Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles, that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons: He appointed the Twelve: Simon, whom he named Peter; James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.

Discipleship is at the heart of being a Christian. It means being someone who learns from Jesus, learning to be like him in every way in the context of one’s specific vocation in life. The disciple is one who hears the call of Jesus to follow him. The idea of a call or vocation is central to the Christian belief that God has created each person with gifts oriented toward specific purposes and lifestyle. It has been associated with a divine call to serve the Church and humanity through particular vocational life commitments such as marriage, consecration as a religious, ordination to priestly ministry, and dedication to the mission as a layperson.

Every Christian is called to give witness to Christ in one’s professional and family life, as well as in one’s church and civic commitments, using one’s gifts for the sake of the greater common good. In today’s Gospel, Jesus appointed a small group of disciples whom he designated as apostles for a specific purpose: to be sent as his messengers and to share in his mission and way of life. Each moment of every day, Jesus never tires of calling us, but are we listening?

January 20th

St. Fabian
St. Sebastian

1st Reading: 2 Sm 1:1-4, 11-12, 19, 23-27:
David returned from his defeat of the Amalekites and spent two days in Ziklag. On the third day a man came from Saul’s camp, with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. Going to David, he fell to the ground in homage. David asked him, “Where do you come from?” He replied, “I have escaped from the camp of the children of Israel.” “Tell me what happened,” David bade him. He answered that many of the soldiers had fled the battle and that many of them had fallen and were dead, among them Saul and his son Jonathan. David seized his garments and rent them, and all the men who were with him did likewise.

They mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the soldiers of the Lord of the clans of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword. “Alas! the glory of Israel, Saul, slain upon your heights; how can the warriors have fallen! “Saul and Jonathan, beloved and cherished, separated neither in life nor in death, swifter than eagles, stronger than lions! Women of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet and in finery, who decked your attire with ornaments of gold. “How can the warriors have fallen– in the thick of the battle, slain upon your heights! “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother! most dear have you been to me; more precious have I held love for you than love for women. “How can the warriors have fallen, the weapons of war have perished!”

Gospel: Mk 3:20-21:
Jesus came with his disciples into the house. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

A distraught mother sought help for her adult daughter who, she perceived, was going “out of her mind.” She described her daughter as someone who used to be good and “obedient.” But when the daughter returned from her studies abroad, she was a totally different person. She had become noncompliant with the unwritten family rules, and passionate about her beliefs, some of which were shocking. This got everyone in the family worried. Perhaps the relatives of Jesus reacted in a similar manner. What made them think that Jesus was “out of his mind?”

They had heard about him breaking the Sabbath law and about demons recognizing him, calling him God’s Son. They were also disturbed that his ministry was depriving him of food and rest. Such deprivations are known to have ill effects on someone’s behavior. They did not seem to understand what made him change so drastically and wanted to protect him from further damage. When radical changes happen to a person, family members can sometimes be the last ones to understand. Following Jesus calls us to change profoundly in our attitudes and behavior. Are we willing to undergo this radical change in following God’s call?