Bible Diary for January 26th – February 1st

January 26th

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sts. Timothy and Titus

1st Reading: Is 8:23 – 9:3:
Yet, where there was but anguish, darkness will disappear. He has just afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali; but in the future he will confer glory on the way of the sea, on the land beyond the Jordan— the pagans’ Galilee. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. A light has dawned on those who live in the land of the shadow of death.

You have enlarged the nation; you have increased their joy. They rejoice before you, as people rejoice at harvest time as they rejoice in dividing the spoil. For the yoke of their burden, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressors, you have broken it as on the day of Midian.

2nd Reading: 1 Cor 1:10–13, 17:
I beg of you, brothers, in the name of Christ Jesus, our Lord, to agree among yourselves, and do away with divisions; please be perfectly united, with one mind and one judgment. For I heard from people, of Cloe’s house, about your rivalries. What I mean is this: some say, “I am for Paul,” and others: “I am for Apollos,” or “I am for Peter,” or “I am for Christ.”

Is Christ divided, or have I, Paul, been crucified for you? Have you been baptized in the name of Paul? For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to proclaim his gospel. And not with beautiful words! That would be like getting rid of the cross of Christ.

Gospel: Mt 4:12 – 23:
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum, a town by the lake of Galilee, at the border of Zebulun and Naphtali. In this way, the word of the prophet Isaiah was fulfilled: Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, crossed by the Road of the Sea; and you, who live beyond the Jordan, Galilee, land of pagans: The people who lived in darkness have seen a great light; on those who live in the land of the shadow of death, a light has shone. From that time on, Jesus began to proclaim his message, “Change your ways: the kingdom of heaven is near.”

As Jesus walked by the lake of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come, follow me; and I will make you fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He went on from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John, in a boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. Jesus called them. At once, they left the boat, and their father, and followed him. Jesus went around all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing all kinds of sickness and disease among the people.

Walking away when the heat becomes unbearable is sometimes the greater part of valor. We cannot stake our all at the initial stage of our work. To do this, we need a tremendous amount of self-awareness and control. We need to be aware of our strengths and deficiencies and control our desire to shortcut ourselves to success by engaging in risky ventures and behaviors. Jesus was fully aware and in control of Himself. He walked away from the short war in order to push His mission long enough to raise a band of brothers who would see to its completion.

His calculations paid off. We are where we are because He did not call the fight when it was still premature. When was the last time you walked away from a useless fight, argument or struggle? Things that will not bear fruits are best left alone allowing us to redirect our energy to those that will. Our only payment would be our bruised ego that did not have the last word. Never mind, just go and walk away and you will be the wiser next time when a similar situation comes.

January 27th

St. Angela Merici

1st Reading: 2 S 5:1–7, 10:
All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “We are your bone and flesh. In the past, when Saul was king over us, it was you who led Israel. And Yahweh said to you, ‘You shall be the shepherd of my people Israel and you shall be commander over Israel.’” Before Yahweh, king David made an agreement with the elders of Israel who came to him at Hebron, and they anointed him king of Israel.

David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned for forty years: he reigned over Judah, from Hebron, seven and a half years; and over Israel and Judah, from Jerusalem, for thirty-three years. The king and his men set out for Jerusalem to fight the Jebusites who lived there. They said to David, “If you try to break in here, the blind and the lame will drive you away,” which meant that David could not get in. Yet David captured the fortress of Zion that became the “city of David.” And David grew more powerful, for Yahweh, the God of Hosts, was with him.

Gospel: Mk 3:22–30:
Meanwhile, the teachers of the law, who had come from Jerusalem, said, “He is in the power of Beelzebul: the chief of the demons helps him to drive out demons.” Jesus called them to him, and began teaching them by means of stories, or parables. “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a nation is divided by civil war, that nation cannot stand. If a family divides itself into groups, that family will not survive. In the same way, if Satan has risen against himself and is divided, he will not stand; he is finished.

No one can break into the house of a strong man in order to plunder his goods, unless he first ties up the strong man. Then indeed, he can plunder his house. Truly, I say to you, every sin will be forgiven humankind, even insults to God, however numerous. But whoever slanders the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. He carries the guilt of his sin forever.” This was their sin when they said, “He has an unclean spirit in him.”

Envy can blind us to the reality manifesting itself right in front of us. The teachers of the Law, waiting for the favorable time of the Lord missed the opportunity to recognize the signs wrought by Jesus as the prelude to the coming of the Kingdom of God.

Their deepest aspiration happening right before them eluded their detection. Their eyes were green with envy. They had already decided how this Kingdom of God would come and Jesus did not fit into their vision. Thus rather than welcoming it with open hearts and minds, they battled against it.

January 28th

St. Thomas Aquinas

1st Reading: 2 S 6:12b–15, 17–19:
King David was told that Yahweh had blessed the family of Obededom and all that belonged to him because of the Ark of God, so he went to bring up the Ark of God from the house of Obededom to the city of David, rejoicing. After those who carried the Ark of Yahweh had walked six paces, they sacrificed an ox and a fattened calf. David whirled round dancing with all his heart before Yahweh, wearing a linen ephod, for he and all the Israelites brought up the Ark of Yahweh, shouting joyfully and sounding the horn.

They brought in the Ark of Yahweh and laid it in its place, in the tent which David had pitched for it. Then David offered burnt and peace offerings before Yahweh. Once the offerings had been made, David blessed the people in the name of Yahweh of Hosts, and distributed to each of them, to each man and woman of the entire assembly of Israel, a loaf of bread, a portion of meat and a raisin cake. With this, all the people left for their homes.

Gospel: Mk 3:31–35:
Then his mother and his brothers came. As they stood outside, they sent someone to call him. The crowd sitting around Jesus told him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside asking for you.” He replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around at those who sat there, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of God is brother and sister and mother to me.”

Our significant relations extend our reach to other people. Their own network of relationships could be ours too especially if they facilitate our entry into them. Yet they also tend to limit our social space especially if they think they have the first right to our time and presence more than the others. And so Jesus situates the nature of His relationship with His family.

It is not by blood relationship but by something deeper, kinship in a common obedience to the will of the one Father of all in heaven. And so, everyone has the right to His person and time. Nobody is above the rest because people of goodwill are mothers and brothers of Jesus and of one another.

January 29th

1st Reading: 2 S 7:4–17:
But that very night, Yahweh’s word came to Nathan, “Go and tell my servant David, this is what Yahweh says: Are you able to build a house for me to live in? I have not dwelt in a house since I brought the Israelites up from Egypt to the present day. But I went about with a tent for shelter. As long as I walked with the Israelites, did I say anything to the chiefs of Israel whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel?

Did I say: Why have you not built me a house of cedar? Now you will tell my servant David, this is what Yahweh of Hosts says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the sheep, to make you commander of my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you went, cutting down all your enemies before you. Now I will make your name great, as the name of the great ones on earth. I will provide a place for my people Israel and plant them that they may live there in peace.

They shall no longer be harassed, nor shall wicked men oppress them as before. From the time when I appointed judges over my people Israel it is only to you that I have given rest from all your enemies. Yahweh also tells you that he will build you a house. When the time comes for you to rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your son after you, the one born of you; and I will make his reign secure. He shall build a house for my name and I will firmly establish his kingship forever.

I will be a father to him and he shall be my son. If he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod, as men do. But I will not withdraw my kindness from him as I did from Saul when I removed him out of your way. Your house and your reign shall last forever before me, and your throne shall be forever firm.” Nathan repeated these words and related this vision to David.

Gospel: Mk 4:1–20:
Again, Jesus began to teach by the lake; but such a large crowd gathered about him, that he got into a boat and sat in it on the lake, while the crowd stood on the shore. He taught them many things through parables. In his teaching he said, “Listen! The sower went out to sow. As he sowed, some of the seed fell along a path; and the birds came and ate it up. Some of the seed fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil; it sprang up immediately, because it had no depth; but when the sun rose and burned it, it withered, because it had no roots. Other seed fell among thorn bushes; and the thorns grew and choked it; so it didn’t produce any grain. But some seed fell on good soil, grew and increased and yielded grain; some seed produced thirty times as much, some sixty, and some one hundred times as much.” And Jesus added, “Listen then, if you have ears.”

When the crowd went away, some who were around him with the Twelve asked about the parables. He answered them, “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But for those outside, everything comes in parables, so, that, the more they see, they don’t perceive; the more they hear, they don’t understand; otherwise they would be converted and pardoned.”

Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How, then, will you understand any of the parables? What the sower is sowing is the word. Those along the path, where the seed fell, are people who hear the word, but as soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Other people receive the word like rocky ground. As soon as they hear the word, they accept it with joy. But they have no roots, so it lasts only a little while. No sooner does trouble or persecution come because of the word, than they fall. Others receive the seed, as seed among thorns. After they hear the word, they are caught up in the worries of this life, false hopes of riches and other desires. All these come in and choke the word, so that finally it produces nothing. And there are others who receive the word as good soil. They hear the word, take it to heart and produce: some thirty, some sixty, and some one hundred times as much.”

It is always good to ask and not to assume understanding especially if there is none in the first place. For asking the right question sets one on the path of knowledge and wisdom. This is what the Twelve and some who were around Jesus learned when He expounded on the parable of the seeds. And they received an answer that would give them the perspective to understand the succeeding teachings of the Lord.

If they had not risked asking, they would have spent the greater part of their life wondering what Jesus meant by those words. Now they could move on and increase in knowledge and in wisdom simply because they had the courage to ask. What about us? Have we resolved our questions lately by asking the very person who could answer them?

January 30th

1st Reading: 2 S 7:18–19, 24–29:
Then king David went in, sat before Yahweh and said, “Who am I, O Yahweh God, and who is my family that you have brought me so far? Yet this was not enough for you, O Yahweh God, for you have also spoken of your servant’s house for a long time to come. Is this the way men act, O Yahweh God? You have set apart your people Israel to become your people forever; and you, Yahweh, have become their God. Now, O Yahweh God, keep forever the promise you made and have now revealed to me regarding myself and my family, that your name may be honored forever and people may say, ‘Yahweh of Hosts is God over Israel.’

The house of your servant David will be secure before you because you, O Yahweh of Hosts, God of Israel, have made it known to your servant and have said to him: ‘Your family will last forever.’ This is why I have dared to address this prayer to you. So now, O Yahweh God, since you are the faithful God, and have promised me this good thing, please bless my descendants, that they may continue forever before you. For you, O Yahweh God, have spoken and, with your blessing, my family shall be blessed forever.”

Gospel: Mk 4:21–25:
Jesus also said to them, “When the light comes, is it put under a basket or a bed? Surely it is put on a lamp stand. Whatever is hidden will be disclosed, and whatever is kept secret will be brought to light. Listen then, if you have ears!” And he also said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear. In the measure you give, so shall you receive, and still more will be given to you. For to the one who produces something, more will be given; and from him who does not produce anything, even what he has will be taken away from him.”

Generosity never diminishes the giver but makes him or her more blessed and truly rich. For you can never give what you never owned in the first place. And what you have never owned you cannot truly enjoy because they make you anxious, afraid and insecure that once they are used up, they can only be replenished with difficulty.

It’s a pity that there are people with so much yet act like dirt poor, while there are poor people with very little who behave like they are exceptionally rich. The real poverty that is appalling is not so much material poverty as the poverty of the heart.

January 31st

St. John Bosco

1st Reading: 2 S 11:1–4a, 5–10a, 13–17:
In the spring of that year, when kings usually set out to fight, David sent out Joab, his officers and all the Israelite troops. They slaughtered the Ammonites and at – tacked Rabbah, while David remained in Jerusalem. One afternoon, David got up from his siesta and took a walk on the roof of the royal house. From the rooftop, he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. David sent to inquire about the woman, and was told, “She is Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam and wife of Uriah, the Hittite.”

So David sent messengers to have her brought to him; and he had intercourse with her just after she had purified herself after her monthly period. Then she returned to her house. As the woman saw she was with child, she sent word to David, “I am with child.” David then sent a message to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah came, David asked him about Joab, how the people were and how the war was proceeding.

Then he told Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” Uriah left the palace while the king had a portion from his table sent to him. Uriah, however, did not go down to his house but slept by the door of the king’s palace with all the servants of his lord. David was told that Uriah did not go down to his house, and he said to him, “Have you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?” David invited him to table and he ate and drank until he was drunk.

When evening fell, however, he went to lie down on his couch with the guards of his lord instead of going down to his house. The next morning, David wrote Joab a letter to be taken by hand by Uriah, in which he said, “Place Uriah in the front row where the fighting is very fierce and then withdraw from him so that he may be struck down and die.” When Joab was attacking the city, he assigned Uriah to a place which he knew was being defended by strong warriors. And the defenders attacked the men of Joab. Some of David’s soldiers and officers were killed; Uriah the Hittite also died.

Gospel: Mk 4:26–34:
Jesus also said, “In the kingdom of God it is like this: a man scatters seed upon the soil. Whether he is asleep or awake, be it day or night, the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The soil produces of itself; first, the blade; then, the ear; then the full grain in the ear. And when it is ripe for harvesting, they take the sickle for the cutting: the time for the harvest has come.”

Jesus also said, “What is the kingdom of God like? To what shall we compare it? It is like a mustard seed which, when sown, is the smallest of all the seeds scattered upon the soil. But once sown, it grows up and becomes the largest of the plants in the garden; and even grows branches so big, that the birds of the air can take shelter in its shade.”

Jesus used many such stories, in order to proclaim the word to them in a way that they would be able to understand. He would not teach them without parables; but privately, to his disciples, he explained every-thing.

Many things can’t simply be explained easily. They defy the logical sequence of how things unfold; their processes do not follow the natural order; they cannot be quantified and therefore, they are confounding. It is no wonder Jesus used symbolic stories to illustrate what the Kingdom of God is.

For these stories invite us to reflect, think further and churn them in our heads until its multitude of meanings emerge and bring us into greater insight and learning. For God’s reign is not meant to be understood at once but to be discovered through time, slowly, painstakingly, with patience. It is after all worth the wait and the effort.

February 1st

Blessed Claretian Martyrs

1st Reading: 2 S 12:1–7a, 10-17:
So Yahweh sent the prophet Nathan to David. Nathan went to the king and said to him, “There were two men in a city: one was rich; the other, poor. The rich man had many sheep and cattle, but the poor man had only one little ewe lamb he had bought. He himself fed it and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and slept on his lap. It was like a daughter to him. Now a traveler came to the rich man, but he would not take from his own flock or herd to prepare food for the traveler. Instead, he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared that for his visitor.” David was furious because of this man and told Nathan, “As Yahweh lives, the man who has done this deserves death! He must return the lamb fourfold for acting like this and showing no compassion.”

Nathan said to David, “You are this man! It is Yahweh, God of Israel, who speaks: ‘I anointed you king over Israel and saved you from Saul’s hands; Now the sword will never be far from your family because you have despised me and taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite for yourself. Thus says Yahweh: Your misfortune will rise from your own house! I will take your wives from you and give them to your neighbor who shall lie with them in broad daylight. What you did was done secretly, but what I do will be done before Israel in broad daylight.”

David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against Yahweh.” Nathan answered him, “Yahweh has forgiven your sin; you shall not die. However, because you have dared to despise Yahweh by doing such a thing, the child that is born to you shall die.” Then Nathan went to his home. Yahweh struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and the child became very ill. David entreated God for the child. He kept a strict fast and lay on the ground the whole night. The elders of his house asked him to rise from the ground but he refused. Nor did he join them to eat.

Gospel: Mk 4:35–41:
On that same day, when evening had come, Jesus said to them, “Let’s go across to the other side of the lake.” So they left the crowd, and took him along in the boat he had been sitting in, and other boats set out with him. Then a storm gathered and it began to blow a gale. The waves spilled over into the boat, so that it was soon filled with water. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.

They woke him up, and said, “Master, don’t you care if we drown?” And rising up, Jesus rebuked the wind, and ordered the sea, “Quiet now! Be still!” The wind dropped, and there was a great calm. Then Jesus said to them, “Why are you so frightened? Do you still have no faith?” But they were terrified, and they said to one another, “Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him!”

Crossing to the other side could be a dangerous enterprise; after all, something habitually done offers security and comfort of the familiar. As we go further into our “crossing over” the gales and tempest of insecurity, fear and lack of confidence to move on paralyze us.

It is in this situation that we need to find our center. Like Jesus who slept through the tempest, we need to allow things to happen and not resist until we are called to proper action at the right place and time. Conserving one’s energy to use it properly at a later time is not cowardice but prudent management of our inner resources.