Bible Diary for July 12th – 18th

July 12th

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

1st Reading: Is 55:10–11:
As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return till they have watered the earth, making it yield seed for the sower and food for others to eat, so is my word that goes forth out of my mouth: it will not return to me idle, but it shall accomplish my will, the purpose for which it has been sent.

2nd Reading: Rom 8:18–23:
I consider, that the suffering of our present life cannot be compared with the glory that will be revealed, and given to us. All creation is eagerly expecting the birth, in glory, of the children of God. For, if now, the created world was unable to attain its purpose, this did not come from itself, but from the one who subjected it. But it is not without hope; for even the created world, will be freed from this fate of death, and share the freedom and glory of the children of God.

We know, that the whole creation groans and suffers the pangs of birth. Not creation alone, but even ourselves; although the Spirit was given to us, as a foretaste of what we are to receive, we groan in our innermost being, eagerly awaiting the day, when God will give us full rights, and rescue our bodies as well.

Gospel: Mt 13:1–23:
That same day, Jesus left the house and sat down by the lakeside. Many people gathered around him. So he got into a boat, and sat down, while the crowds stood on the shore; and he spoke to them in parables about many things.

Jesus said, “The sower went out to sow; and, as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path; and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where there was little soil, and the seeds sprouted quickly, because the soil was not deep. But as soon as the sun rose, the plants were scorched; and they withered, because they had no roots. Again, other seeds fell among thistles; and the thistles grew and choked the plants. Still, other seeds fell on good soil and produced a crop: some a hundredfold, others sixty, and others thirty. If you have ears, then hear!”

Then his disciples came to him and said, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” Jesus answered, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but not to these people. For the one who has will be given more; and he will have in abundance. But the one who does not have will be deprived of even what he has. That is why I speak to them in parables; because they look and do not see; they hear; but they do not listen or understand. In them, the words of the prophet Isaiah are fulfilled: However much you hear, you do not understand; however much you see, you do not perceive. For the heart of this people has grown dull. Their ears hardly hear and their eyes dare not see. If they were to see with their eyes, hear with their ears and understand with their heart, they would turn back, and I would heal them. But blessed are your eyes, be cause they see; and your ears, because they hear. For I tell you, many prophets and righteous people have longed to see the things you see, but they did not see them; and to hear the things you hear, but they did not hear them. Now listen to the parable of the sower. When a person hears the message of the kingdom, but does not take it seriously, the devil comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed that fell along the footpath. The seed that fell on rocky ground stands for the one who hears the word, and accepts it at once with joy. But such a person has no roots, and endures only for a while. No sooner is he harassed or persecuted because of the word, than he gives up. The seed that fell among the thistles is the one who hears the word; but then, the worries of this life and the love of money choke the word; and it does not bear fruit. As for the seed that fell on good soil, it is the one who hears the word and understands it; this seed bears fruit and produces a hundred, or sixty, or thirty times more.”

Words have innate potentialities. Once they are spoken they get a life of their own. They can change lives. They can influence our decisions. That’s why we seek men and women of wisdom to listen to their words when we are at a loss. Their counsel can lead us back to our inner balance. They can help guide us back to the path we have lost. But reception is also important in hearing words. For if one is not properly disposed to it, these words loose their power.

They become sterile unable to bear fruit. Jesus knows this truth very well, hence the parable of the seeds that fell on different types of ground. The story is a miniature of who we are in front of His word. Have I been profiting from the words of others lately? More importantly, do I have the proper disposition to listen to the words of others? Today, I will try to consciously listen to others and have a genuine interest in what they have to say.

July 13th

St. Henry

1st Reading: Is 1:10–17:
Hear the warning of Yahweh, rulers of Sodom. Listen to the word of God, people of Gomorrah. What do I care, says Yahweh, for your endless sacrifices? I am fed up with your burnt offerings, and the fat of your bulls. The blood of fatlings, and lambs and he-goats I abhor, when you come before me and trample on my courts. Who asked you to visit me? I am fed up with your oblations. I grow sick with your incense. Your New Moons, Sabbaths and meetings, evil with holy assemblies, I can no longer bear.

I hate your New Moons and appointed feasts. They burden me. When you stretch out your hands I will close my eyes; the more you pray, the more I refuse to listen, for your hands are bloody. Wash and make yourselves clean. Remove from my sight the evil of your deeds. Put an end to your wickedness and learn to do good. Seek justice and keep in line the abusers; give the fatherless their rights and defend the widow.

Gospel: Mt 10:34 – 11:1:
Do not think that I have come to establish peace on earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Each one will have as enemies, those of one’s own family. Whoever loves father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me. And whoever loves son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take up his cross and follow me, is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life, for my sake, will find it.

Whoever welcomes you, welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me, welcomes him who sent me. The one who welcomes a prophet, as a prophet, will receive the reward of a prophet; the one who welcomes a just man, because he is a just man, will receive the reward of a just man. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones, because he is my disciple, I assure you, he will not go unrewarded.” When Jesus had finished giving his twelve disciples these instructions, he went on from there, to teach and to proclaim his message in their towns.

More things are piled up on the shoulders of those who choose to follow Jesus. It is as if pressures are calibrated to keep pace with our growing strengths. There seems to be no end in sight to all possible discomfort and pain one must be willing to take in order to be a disciple of Jesus. These probably are told in advance so that there will be no blaming afterwards when the going gets rough on the road to discipleship. Jesus wants His disciples to be wide- eyes with what they are signing into. He does not promise a life on a bed of roses. What He promises is a victorious glorious life in the end. He or she who desires that life must be ready to pay for what will happen in between.

July 14th

St. Kateri Tekakwitha

1st Reading: Is 7:1–9:
When Ahaz son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, was king of Judah, king Rezin of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah, king of Israel, laid siege to Jerusalem but they were unable to capture it. When the news reached the house of David, “Aram’s troops are encamped in Ephraim,” the heart of the king and the hearts of the people trembled as the trees of the forest tremble before the wind.

Yahweh then said to Isaiah: “Go with your son A-remnant-will-return, and meet Ahaz at the end of the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Washer man’s Field. Say to him, Stay calm and fear not; do not lose courage before these two stumps of smoldering firebrands—the fierce anger of Rezin the Aramean and the blazing fury of the son of Remaliah. You know that Aram, Ephraim and Remaliah’s son have plotted against Judah, saying: Let us invade and scare it, let us seize it and put the son of Tabeel king over it. But the Lord Yahweh says: It shall not be so; it shall not come to pass. For Damascus is only the head of Aram and Rezin the lord of Damascus. Samaria is only the head of Ephraim and Remaliah’s son is only the lord of Samaria. Within fifty-six years, Ephraim will be shattered and will no longer be a people. But if you do not stand firm in faith, you, too, will not stand at all.”

Gospel: Mt 11:20–24:
Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which he had performed most of his miracles, because the people there did not change their ways. “Alas for you Chorazin and Bethsaida! If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I assure you, for Tyre and Sidon; it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Caper-naum, will you be lifted up to heaven? You will be thrown down to the place of the dead! For if the miracles which were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would still be there today! But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

Denounce is a strong negative word. For Jesus to denounce the cities, mentioned in this Gospel, must mean that He was fed up with their blindness and hard-headedness. But what made them so stubborn amidst the many signs and wonders that the Lord did in their midst? One can only guess, but it is sad to see the opportunity given them pass by. It was all a waste not only on their part but on the part of Jesus too who gave time and effort for their sake.

July 15th

St. Bonaventure

1st Reading: Is 10:5–7, 13b–16:
Woe to Assyria, the rod of my anger, the staff of my fury! Against a godless nation I send him, against a people who provoke my wrath I dispatch him, to plunder and pillage, to tread them down like mud in the streets. But the mind of his king is far from this, his heart harbors other thoughts; what he wants is to destroy, to make an end of all nations.

For the king says: “By my own strength I have done this and by my own wisdom, for I am clever. I have moved the frontiers of people, I have plundered treasures, I have brought inhabitants down to the dust, I have toppled kings from their thrones. As one reaches into a nest, so my hands have reached into nations’ wealth. As one gathers deserted eggs, so have I gathered the riches of the earth. No one flapped a wing or opened its mouth to chirp a protest.”

Does the ax claim more credit than the man who wields it? Does the saw magnify itself more than the one who uses it? This would be like a rod wielding the man who lifts it up; will those not made of wood, be controlled by the cudgel? This is why Yahweh Sabaoth, is ready to send a wasting sickness upon the king’s sturdy warriors. Beneath his plenty, a flame will burn like a consuming fire.

Gospel: Mt 11:25–27:
On that occasion, Jesus said, “Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I praise you; because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to simple people. Yes, Father, this was your gracious will. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father; and no one knows the Father except the Son, and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

Knowing somebody well presupposes deep intimacy. Jesus glories in His deep relationship with the Father and readily boasts about it. What more, He shares this bond with those who will follow Him, holding nothing back for Himself. It is a sharing that springs from someone who could not wait to share the delight He has with His Father whose heart is firmly set for the simple lowly people of this world. It would be wonderful to access this Father from Jesus Himself.

July 16th

Foundation Day of the Claretian Missionaries
Our Lady of Mount Carmel

1st Reading: Is 26:7–9, 12, 16–19:
Let the righteous walk in righteousness. You make smooth the path of the just, and we only seek the way of your laws, O Yahweh. Your name and your memory are the desire of our hearts. My soul yearns for you in the night; for you my spirit keeps vigil. When your judgments come to earth, the world’s inhabitants learn to be upright. Yahweh, please give us peace; for all that we accomplish is your work. For they sought you in distress, they cried out to you in the time of their punishment.

As a woman in travail moans and writhes in pain, so are we now in your presence. We conceived, we had labor pains, but we gave birth to the wind. We have not brought salvation to the land; the inhabitants of a new world have not been born. Your dead will live! Their corpses will rise! Awake and sing, you who lie in the dust! For you will grow like plants drenched with the morning dew, and the earth will bring forth its dead spirits.

Gospel: Mt 11:28–30:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For my yoke is easy; and my burden is light.”

Carrying things tends to weary us in the long run. That’s why it is wise to unload some of these burdens from time to time, to give ourselves breathing space and recover our strengths. People tend to hold on to their burden especially the psycho-emotional ones. They occupy precious space in the heart and grow heavier through the years. But the yoke of Jesus is light for one burdened only by the demands of love. Since love is a power that can do all things, bear all things and suffer all things, it can lighten even the heaviest of load. Love makes everything good and light.

July 17th

1st Reading: Is 38:1–6, 21–22, 7–8:
In those days Hezekiah fell mortally ill and the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, went to him with a message from Yahweh, “Put your house in order for you shall die; you shall not live.” Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to Yahweh, “Ah Yahweh! Remember how I have walked before you in truth and wholeheartedly, and done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

Then the word of Yahweh came to Isaiah, “Go and tell Hezekiah what Yahweh, the God of his father David, says: I have heard your prayer and I have seen your tears. See! I am adding fifteen years to your life and I will save you and this city from the power of the king of Assyria. I will defend it for my sake and for the sake of David my servant. Isaiah then said, “Bring a fig cake to rub on the ulcer and let Hezekiah be cured!”

Hezekiah asked, “What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of Yahweh?” Isaiah answered, “This shall be for you a sign from Yahweh, that he will do what he has promised. See! I shall make the shadow descending on the stairway of Ahaz go back ten steps.” So the sunlight went back the ten steps it had covered on the stairway.

Gospel: Mt 12:1–8:
It happened that, Jesus was walking through the wheat fields on a Sabbath. His disciples were hungry; and they began to pick some heads of wheat, to crush and to eat the grain. When the Pharisees noticed this, they said to Jesus, “Look at your disciples! They are doing what is prohibited on the Sabbath!”

Jesus answered, “Have you not read what David did, when he and his men were hungry? He went into the House of God, and they ate the bread offered to God, though neither he nor his men had the right to eat it, but only the priests. And have you not read in the law, how, on the Sabbath, the priests in the temple desecrate the Sabbath, yet they are not guilty? I tell you, there is greater than the temple here. If you really knew the meaning of the words: It is mercy I want, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent. Besides, the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Doing acts of mercy trumps sacrifice especially on the personal level and directed to oneself anytime. For the former benefits the others while the latter is more of the self. The benefits one gains from doing personal sacrifices are annulled when one begins to take a “holier than thou stance” relative to others who cannot and would not engage in such practices. Perhaps it is not really the act itself that Jesus condemns. After all, any self development activity helps improve who we are and has a social effect. It is the attitude that might arise from it that is undesirable; that is, an elitist appreciation of oneself while scorning others.

July 18th

St. Camillus de Lellis

1st Reading: Mic 2:1–5:
Woe to those who plot wickedness and plan evil even on their beds! When morning comes they do it, as soon as it is within their reach. If they covet fields, they seize them. Do they like houses? They take them. They seize the owner and his household; both, the man and his property.

This is why Yahweh speaks, “I am plotting evil against this whole brood, from which your necks cannot escape. No more shall you walk with head held high, for it will be an evil time.” On that day, they will sing a taunting song against you; and a bitter lamentation will be heard, “We have been stripped of our property in our homeland. Who will free us from the wicked who allots our fields.” Truly, no one will be found in the assembly of Yahweh to keep a field for you.

Gospel: Mt 12:14–21:
Then the Pharisees went out, and made plans to get rid of Jesus. As Jesus was aware of their plans, he left that place. Many people followed him, and he cured all who were sick. But he gave them strict orders not to make him known. In this way, Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled: Here is my servant, whom I have chosen; the one I love, and with whom I am pleased. I will put my spirit upon him; and he will announce my judgment to the nations. He will not argue or shout, nor will his voice be heard in the streets. The bruised reed he will not crush, nor snuff out the smoldering wick until he brings justice to victory, and in him, all the nations will put their hope.

Jesus deemed it wise to walk away from a conflict. He is not known to have been a coward but it is He Himself who had counseled His disciples to be cunning as snakes and meek as doves. Nothing could be gained from a head-on collision with the religious authorities. The mission is still too young to be orphaned of its initiator. And so Jesus searches for a friendly place and cures those in search for wholeness and meaningful lives. The fighting will be left for another day. Meanwhile, a lot of work still needs to be done.