Bible Diary for January 5th – 11th

January 5th

St. John Neumann

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, by the Spirit. Now, the non-Jews share the inheritance; in Christ Jesus, the non-Jews are incorporated, and are to enjoy the Promise. This is the Good News.

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 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, 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 these instructions, “Go and get 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.

Our glory is a reflected glory. Paul understood it well. He knew that the graces he received came from God and were meant for others. Herod failed to realize this truth. He mistook his kingship and glory to be his own, and hence, he could not delight in the coming of God’s light and sought to extinguish it. How do you perceive and use the graces of God’s light given to you? Lord, make me a mirror that reflects your light into the lives of others.

January 6th

St. André Bessette

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. We are of God, and those who know God, listen to us, but those who are not of God, ignore us. This is how we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of falsehood as well.

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 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.” Jesus went around all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, pro-claiming 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.

Sometimes, prudence is the greater part of valor. When the heat was turned up on John, Jesus knew that John’s activities did not sit well with the powers that be. Jesus’ work was somehow similar to John’s. He therefore might have been the next potential target so He withdrew to Capernaum.

There, far from the center of power, He would have more freedom to do what He needed to do without fear of arrest or persecution. This move netted good results. Jesus was able to create a base to strengthen the movement He was starting. Level-headedness made His initial works fruitful. It pays to be prudent in certain situations sometimes.

January 7th

St. Raymond of Peñafort

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. 43 The disciples gathered up what was left, and filled twelve baskets with broken pieces of bread and fish. Five thousand men had eaten there.

Genuine concern and care demands that sometimes we have to inconvenience ourselves willingly. True and genuine sharing at some point will hurt because it does not only come from our surplus but from our very poverty itself. Thus the apostles, wanting the easy way out, requested Jesus to tell the people to fend for themselves.

Their Master had the numbers to show judging from the multitude that flocked to hear Him preach. Now they could rest and let go of these people. But Jesus showed them that service does not end when the praise and accolade subside. It continues relentlessly in good times and bad. This is the real miracle in this story: the capacity to give continuously without counting the cost and without reserve.

January 8th

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, toward 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 in – to 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.

What was the secret of Jesus’ strength and fortitude? Why was He so fruitful and successful in His initial ministry? This passage in Mark gives us a glimpse of Jesus’ secret weapon: His prayer life. Perhaps the reason why this was recorded in the Gospels was because it was one of the striking memories the Apostles had of their Lord and Savior. Sometimes, we think that sitting for a time in prayer and meditation is a sterile time, unproductive and a waste of opportunity.

We equate possibility of success with activity and doing. But prayer made Jesus walk calmly above the chaos of everyday life. He lorded it over the unruly passions of the heart and the wild imaginings of the mind. He stayed focused on what He needed to do because His prayer gave Him the center that kept Him steady through joy and sorrow, through life and death and new life. Prayer is what led Him to victory.

January 9th

1st Reading: 1 Jn 4:19 – 5:4:
So, let us love one another, since he 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 this but Joseph’s Son?”

Sometimes, the medium hinders the message to be effectively delivered. In some cases it is not the fault of the medium but of the receivers who, even though they are convinced of the message, nevertheless do not make the necessary adjustment to their appreciation of the medium. For there are mediums who are so self-assured that they don’t need to spruce up their credentials by adjusting their outward appearances.

Nor will they rewrite their life history in order to upgrade their lineage or social standing. Their message is such that those who will not accept it are the ones left shortchanged. How many times therefore has Jesus Christ come to us in a form we least expected and thus we rejected Him and His message?

January 10th

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, those 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.

Contagious diseases like leprosy divide the afflicted from the greater community. It makes the affected person a pariah even to those who know him or her. Thus they are apt metaphors for sin that isolates and sets apart the person from the group. Forgiveness restores one’s standing in the community making one again a member rather than an outsider.

And Jesus has infinite resources in forgiving those who ask. How many times have we tried to avail of this free and gratuitous mercy? Today I would like to end my isolation and enjoy again the warmth of community. I will muster the courage like the leper of the Gospel to ask Jesus to heal me of my sins.

January 11th

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 him 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 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.”

“It is necessary that He increase but that I decrease.” With these words John affirmed his greatness. It may be a concession of an inferior status in the eyes of those driven to be at the top, but from the optics of the spirit acceptance of one’s true worth affirms one’s certainty of oneself. There are people who go through life trumpeting themselves and their achievements hoping to leave an impressive memory.

Some succeed but in time, their greatness built on sand crumbles. There are those who fail miserably because their boasting about themselves, their ego and their shadow leave a bitter taste on the people tired of hearing about it. There is an Asian saying that captures quiet greatness, “silent water runs deep.”