Bible Diary for January 3rd – 9th

January 3rd

Epiphany of the Lord (observed)

1st Reading: Is 60:1–6:
Arise, shine, for your light has come. The Glory of Yahweh rises upon you. Night still covers the earth and gloomy clouds veil the peoples, but Yahweh now rises and over you his glory appears. Nations will come to your light and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Lift up your eyes round about and see: they are all gathered and come to you, your sons from afar, your daughters tenderly carried. This sight will make your face radiant, your heart throbbing and full; the riches of the sea will be turned to you, the wealth of the nations will come to you. A multitude of camels will cover you, caravans from Midian and Ephah. Those from Sheba will come, bringing with them gold and incense, all singing in praise of Yahweh.

2nd Reading: Eph 3:2–3a, 5–6:
You may have heard of the graces God bestowed on me for your sake. By a revelation he gave me the knowledge of his mysterious design, as I have explained in a few words. This mystery was not made known to past generations but only now, through revelations given to holy apostles and prophets. Now the non-Jewish people share the Inheritance; in Christ Jesus the non-Jews are incorporated and are to enjoy the Promise.

Gospel: Mt 2:1–12:
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in Judea, during the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived in Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw the rising of his star in the east and have come to honor him.” When Herod heard this he was greatly disturbed and with him all Jerusalem. He immediately called a meeting of all high-ranking priests and the teachers of the law, and asked them where the Messiah was to be born.

“In the town of Bethlehem in Judea,” they told him, “for this is what the prophet wrote: And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, you are by no means the least among the clans of Judah, for from you will come a leader, the one who is to shepherd my people Israel.”

Then Herod secretly called the wise men and asked them the precise time the star appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem with instructions, “Go and get these accurate information about the child. As soon as you have found him, report to me, so that I too may go and honor him.” After the meeting with the king, they set out. The star that they had seen in the East went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was.

The wise men were overjoyed on seeing the star again. They went into the house and when they saw the child with Mary his mother, they knelt and worshiped him. They opened their bags and offered him their gifts of gold, incense and myrrh. In a dream they were warned not to go back to Herod, so they returned to their home country by another way.

Do we see the light of God? The Light of God has been revealed in the person of Jesus through the Scriptures. But oftentimes people, do not see its splendor because they treat the Scriptures only as a source of information and not as a book of faith. The Knowledge of the Astrologers to see the signs of the times and the humility of doing their work shows the wisdom needed to see the Glory of the Light of God.

Are we inspired by the light of God or do we feel threatened like King Herod? Let us pray that we may able to discover the Light of God deep within our being. He created us good let this goodness be radiant. He allows us to be steward of His Light, let us be good stewards of igniting the splendor of His Light and be humble in accepting and rejoicing the witness of the Light from others. Amen. Rejoice in the Light of God in you. Identify and affirm God’s manifestation in the goodness done by your neighbor.

January 4th

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

1st Reading: 1 Jn 3:22–4:6:
Then, whatever we ask, we shall receive, since we keep his commands and do what pleases him. His command is that we believe in the Name of his Son Jesus Christ and that we love one another, as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commands remains in God and God in him. It is by the Spirit God has given us that we know he lives in us. My beloved, do not trust every inspiration. Test the spirits to see whether they come from God, because many false prophets are now in the world.

How will you recognize the spirit of God? Any spirit recognizing Jesus as the Christ who has taken our flesh is of God. But any spirit that does not recognize Jesus is not from God, it is the spirit of the antichrist. You have heard of his coming and even now he is in the world. You, my dear children, are of God and you have already overcome these people, because the one who is in you is more powerful than he who is in the world. They are of the world and the world inspires them and those of the world listen to them. (…)

Gospel: Mt 4:12–17, 23–25:
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to settle down 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, listen: 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.” 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. The news about him spread through the whole of Syria, and the people brought all their sick to him, and all those who suffered: the possessed, the deranged, the paralyzed, and he healed them all. Large crowds followed him from Galilee and the Ten Cities, from Jerusalem, Judea, and from across the Jordan.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus continues where John the Baptist left off. If John’s rallying cry was to call for repentance, Jesus brings the call further and proclaims, “Change your ways: the kingdom of heaven is near.” Repentance is incomplete without a real change of attitudes and behavior. Sadly, it seems that the call of the Gospel is being drowned by a louder and more seductive message coming from today’s society, which media and advertisements promote: that the more we have, the happier we can be. This message is seductive because it seems natural to work hard in order to earn more so we can have more.

But there is the danger that the more focused we are on ourselves and on our wants, we can become blind to the needs of others who are less fortunate than we are. Jesus sets an example for us. After announcing to the people to change their ways, he immediately immerses into a life of service by teaching, proclaiming, and healing. This is the mission he wants to share with us according to our individual gifts and capacities. When such a change happens in us, the kingdom is already being realized in our midst.

January 5th

St. John Neumann

1st Reading: 1 Jn 4:7–10:
My dear friends, let us love one another for love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Those who do not love have not known God, for God is love. How did the love of God appear among us? God sent his only Son into this world that we might have life through him. This is love: not that we loved God but that he first loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Gospel: Mk 6:34–44:
As Jesus went ashore, he saw a large crowd, and he had compassion on them for they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. It was now getting late, so his disciples came to him and said, “This is a lonely place and it is now late. You should send the people away and let them go to the farms and villages around here to buy themselves something to eat.” Jesus replied, “You yourselves give them something to eat.” They answered, “If we are to feed them, we need two hundred silver coins to go and buy enough bread.” But Jesus said, “You have some loaves; how many? Go and see.”

The disciples found out and said, “There are five loaves and two fish.” Then he told them to have the people sit down together in groups on the green grass. This they did in groups of hundreds and fifties. And Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish and, raising his eyes to heaven, he pronounced a blessing, broke the loaves, and handed them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them. They all ate and everyone had enough. The disciples gathered up what was left, and filled twelve baskets with broken pieces of bread and fish. Five thousand men had eaten there.

Hunger, thirst and neediness are human experiences that evoke compassion from someone who loves. The image of a parent feeding one’s child speaks loudly of love. When Jesus feeds the hungry crowd, love is the message that comes across so powerfully. Parents who make the sacrifice of leaving their children behind in the care of their spouse or other relatives give one compelling reason: to be able to feed their families and provide a better future for them.

This is how they want to show their love. Yet often, those left behind do not understand this as an expression of love. When Jesus challenged his disciples to feed the multitudes, in their objection, it is clear they were only thinking of the great cost of such an undertaking. Money is a good means for survival, but it may not always be the perfect solution. Jesus challenges us as he did the disciples to look at what we have, which may not seem enough, but when shared gratefully and managed wisely, it would be more than enough for everyone’s basic needs.

January 6th

Epiphany of the Lord (official)
St. André Bessette

1st Reading: 1 Jn 4:11–18:
Dear friends, if such has been the love of God, we, too, must love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love comes to its perfection in us. How may we know that we live in God and he in us? Because God has given us his Spirit. We ourselves have seen and declare that the Father sent his Son to save the world. Those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in them and they in God.

We have known the love of God and have believed in it. God is love. The one who lives in love, lives in God and God in him. When do we know that we have reached a perfect love? When in this world, we are like him in everything, and expect with confidence the Day of Judgment. There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives away fear, for fear has to do with punishment; those who fear do not know perfect love.

Gospel: Mk 6:45–52:
Immediately, Jesus obliged his disciples to get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, towards Bethsaida, while he himself sent the crowd away. And having sent the people off, he went by himself to the hillside to pray. When evening came, the boat was far out on the lake, while he was alone on the land. Jesus saw his disciples straining at the oars, for the wind was against them; and before daybreak he came to them, walking on the lake, and he was going to pass them by.

When they saw him walking on the lake, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw him and were terrified. But at once he called to them, “Courage! It is I; don’t be afraid!” Then Jesus got into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely astonished, for they had not really grasped the fact of the loaves; their minds were dull.

There is a need to honor the natural rhythm of life that brings balance and harmony to one’s being. There is rhythm between work and rest, aloneness and togetherness, listening and speaking, silence and sound, and in practically all facets of life. Like Jesus, who took time for solitude to pray after the busy events of the day, we are reminded of the importance of paying attention to this rhythm and take time for rest and solitude when activities deplete our energies.

Without taking time for reflection and developing our capacity for critical thinking, we can easily be deceived by our senses, and misunderstand or misinterpret events that happen before us as did the disciples who mistook Jesus as a ghost. Many of our fears and reactions are shadows of our unreflected and unaccepted selves. Socrates declared, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” We are unable to grow toward greater understanding of our true nature unless we take the time to examine and reflect upon our life. God has given us the capacity to be reflective so we may know and come to a deeper appreciation of the gift of life, which is worth living.

January 7th

St. Raymond of Peñafort

1st Reading: 1 Jn 4:19–5:4:
So let us love one another, since God loved us first. If you say, “I love God,” while you hate your brother or sister, you are a liar. How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your brother whom you see? We received from him this commandment: let those who love God also love their brothers. All those who believe that Jesus is the Anointed, are born of God; whoever loves the Father, loves the Son. How may we know that we love the children of God? If we love God and fulfill his commands, for God’s love requires us to keep his commands. In fact, his commandments are not a burden because all those born of God overcome the world. And the victory which overcomes the world is our faith.

Gospel: Lk 4:14–22:
Jesus acted with the power of the Spirit; and  on his return to Galilee, the news about him spread throughout all that territory. He began teaching in the synagogues of the Jews and everyone praised him. When Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, as he usually did. He stood up to read, and they handed him the book of the prophet Isaiah.

Jesus then unrolled the scroll and found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and new sight to the blind; to free the oppressed and to announce the Lord’s year of mercy.” Jesus then rolled up the scroll, gave it to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he said to them, “Today these prophetic words come true, even as you listen.” All agreed with him, and were lost in wonder, while he spoke of the grace of God. Nevertheless, they asked, “Who is is but Joseph’s Son?“

If we were to imagine the headline of a daily gazette in Nazareth at the time of Jesus’ return to Galilee, perhaps it would read this way: “Local Son Returns as a Successful Preacher.” Perhaps the mothers would be milling around Mary congratulating her for the success of her son. The townspeople would be beaming with pride that someone among them made it big. This scenario is no different these days when a famous person returns home. He or she becomes the toast of the town. Being in such a privileged position carries a great responsibility, for one can influence others for good or for bad.

For instance, there are famous people who use their popularity to take up causes for the benefit of humankind or the environment. They become good role models especially to the young. However this is not always the case. There are stars and athletes idolized by their young fans who fail to capitalize on their fame to do good. Jesus, aware of the power of the Spirit in him, uses the occasion of his homecoming to promote the cause of God’s kingdom, the good news that God saves us from our impoverishment, blindness, and oppression.

January 8th

1st Reading: 1 Jn 5:5–13:
Who has overcome the world? The one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus Christ was acknowledged through water, but also through blood. Not only water but water and blood. And the Spirit, too, witnesses to him for the Spirit is truth. There are then three testimonies: the Spirit, the water and the blood, and these three witnesses agree. If we accept human testimony, with greater reason must we accept that of God, given in favor of his Son.

If you believe in the Son of God, you have God’s testimony in you. But those who do not believe make God a liar, since they do not believe his words when he witnesses to his Son. What has God said? That he has granted us eternal life and this life is in his Son. The one who has the Son has life, the one who do not have the Son of God do not have life. I write you, then, all these things that you may know that you have eternal life, all you who believe in the name of the Son of God.

Gospel: Lk 5:12–16:
One day, in another town, a man came to Jesus covered with leprosy. On seeing Jesus, the man bowed down to the ground, and said, “Lord, if you want to, you can make me clean.” Stretching out his hand, Jesus touched the man and said, “Yes, I want to. Be clean.” In an instant the leprosy left him. Then Jesus instructed him, “Tell this to no one. But go and show yourself to the priest. Make an offering for your healing, as Moses prescribed; that will serve as evidence for them.” But the news about Jesus spread all the more, and large crowds came to him, to listen and to be healed of their sickness. As for Jesus, he would often withdraw to solitary places and pray.

I once had a rare skin disease that broke out all over my body in nasty rashes. At the doctor’s office, the patients in the waiting room avoided sitting beside me fearful that what I had was contagious. At that moment, I could understand how disease can be an isolating experience. Perhaps the man covered with leprosy in today’s Gospel did not only feel isolated, but also felt unloved and unlovable in his uncleanness. While it is understandable for people to be afraid of diseases, we are at the same time challenged to look into our fears and to see how our fearful attitude can affect others and our relationships in community.

The feeling of rejection is not just skin-deep. It leaves a deep wound in the core of a person’s being. Jesus understands the roots of our illnesses—what blinds us, paralyzes us, and what makes us break out in leprosy. He is not afraid to touch and be touched deeply. He fully understands the inner illness that makes us untouchable and unacceptable even to ourselves. He demonstrates to us the power of touch that brings healing to our brokenness, restoring us back to wholeness.

January 9th

1st Reading: 1 Jn 5:14–21:
Through him we are fully confident that whatever we ask, according to his will, he will grant us. If we know that he hears us whenever we ask, we know that we already have what we asked of him. If you see your brother committing sin, a sin which does not lead to death, pray for him, and God will give life to your brother. I speak, of course, of the sin which does not lead to death. There is also a sin that leads to death; I do not speak of praying about this. Every kind of wrongdoing is sin, but not all sin leads to death.

We know that those born of God do not sin, but the one who was born of God protects them and the evil one does not touch them. We know that we belong to God, while the whole world lies in evil. We know that the Son of God has come and has given us power to know the truth. We are in him who is true, his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. My dear children, keep yourselves from idols.

Gospel: Jn 3:22–30:
After this, Jesus went into the territory of Judea with his disciples. He stayed there with them and baptized. John was also baptizing in Aenon, near Salim, where water was plentiful; people came to him and were baptized. This happened before John was put in prison. Now John’s disciples had been questioned by a Jew about spiritual cleansing, so they came to John and said, “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, and about whom you spoke favorably, is now baptizing, and all are going to him.”

John answered, “No one can receive anything, except what has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ Only the bridegroom has the bride; but the friend of the bridegroom stands by and listens, and rejoices to hear the bridegroom’s voice. My joy is now full. It is necessary that he increase, but that I decrease.

Celebrating important milestones requires long and short-term preparation. We do a lot of cleaning and sprucing up of the venue, following up invited guests, making sure there are enough provisions, and all other activities needed for the big event. We want the occasion to be happy and memorable. Yet, we can become anxious and concerned in making sure that there are no snags in our preparations. This was not the kind of preparation John the Baptist was referring to. He wanted people to do more than mere sprucing up and fine-tuning the outside of things.

He wanted them to polish-up the inside of themselves, something that he himself had lived out throughout his lifetime while awaiting the arrival of the longed-for Messiah. He is pointing out to us that the inner atmosphere of the heart has to be cleared to enable us to see God’s presence in our midst. Such inner preparation can lead us to greater openness, humility and single mindedness in recognizing the One sent by God. His testimony bears it all when he puts himself in the place of the friend of the bridegroom who shares in the bridegroom’s joy, making his celebration complete.