Bible Diary for July 14th – 20th

July 14th

St. Kateri Tekakwitha

1st Reading: Dt 30:10-14:
For you shall turn to Yahweh, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul, and observe his commandments and norms, in a word, everything written in this book of the law. These commandments that I give you today are neither too high nor too remote for you. They are not in heaven that you should say: “Who will go up to heaven to get these commandments that we may hear them and put them into practice.” Neither are they at the other side of the sea for you to say: “Who will cross to the other side and bring them to us, that we may hear them and put them into practice.” On the contrary, my word is very near you; it is already in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can put it into practice.

2nd Reading: Col 1:15-20:
He is the image of the unseen God, and for all creation, he is the firstborn, for, in him, all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible: thrones, rulers, authorities, powers… All was made through him and for him. He is before all and all things hold together, in him. And he is the head of the body, that is the Church, for he is the first, the first raised from the dead, that he may be the first in everything, for God was pleased to let fullness dwell in him. Through him, God willed to reconcile all things to himself, and through him, through his blood shed on the cross, God establishes peace, on earth as in heaven.

Gospel: Lk 10:25-37:
Then a teacher of the law came and began putting Jesus to the test. And he said, “Master, what shall I do to receive eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What is written in the law? How do you understand it?” The man answered, “It is written: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus replied, “What a good answer! Do this and you shall live.” The man wanted to justify his question, so he asked, “Who is my neighbor?”

Jesus then said, “There was a man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him and went off, leaving him half-dead. It happened that a priest was going along that road and saw the man, but passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite saw the man, and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan also was going that way; and when he came upon the man, he was moved with compassion. He went over to him, and cleaned his wounds with oil and wine, and wrapped them in bandages. Then he put him on his own mount, and brought him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day, he had to set off; but he gave two silver coins to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him, and whatever you spend on him, I will repay when I return.’”

Jesus then asked, “Which of these three, do you think, made himself neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The teacher of the law answered, “The one who had mercy on him.” And Jesus said, “Then go and do the same.”

The Spanish philosopher and theologian Raimon Panikkar put forward the “cosmotheandric” (cosmos = cosmic/ universe; theos = the divine/ God; aner = human) notion or vision of reality. Simply put, all of reality exists in interdependence and interrelation. Each of the three dimensions exist in the other. In other words, one is so present in the other two. Reflecting on this vision, we may speak of the profound connection of God, nature, and humans. We, humans, form a single, integral relationship with God and nature. We are not separated from them. There exists a unity.

That is why the first reading was able to speak of the closeness of Yahweh’s commandments and laws to us; and Saint Paul, in the second reading, was able to contemplate of Christ holding all things together in himself. Base on this relation, a genuine turning to God, or love of him, is made possible only through the love of neighbor; and neighbor, here, would include both humans and nonhumans alike. The only way to love God is by loving all that he has created. God, maker of all, grant us the grace to see our deep relation with the whole creation and help us feel the suffering and pain of our poor sisters and brothers, and of other creatures.

July 15th

St. Bonaventure

1st Reading: Ex 1:8-14, 22:
A new king, who knew nothing of Joseph, came to power in Egypt. He said to his subjects, “Look how numerous and powerful the people of the children of Israel are growing, more so than we ourselves! Come, let us deal shrewdly with them to stop their increase; otherwise, in time of war they too may join our enemies to fight against us, and so leave our country.”

Accordingly, taskmasters were set over the children of Israel to oppress them with forced labor. Thus they had to build for Pharaoh the supply cities of Pithom and Raamses. Yet the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread. The Egyptians, then, dreaded the children of Israel
and reduced them to cruel slavery, making life bitter for them with hard work in mortar and brick and all kinds of field work—the whole cruel fate of slaves.

Pharaoh then commanded all his subjects, “Throw into the river every boy that is born to the Hebrews, but you may let all the girls live.”

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.

Donald Senior, professor of New Testament studies at the Catholic Theological Union, defined discipleship as “taking up the cross” and following Jesus. But why taking up the cross? Probably, this is the ultimate test of discipleship—being ready to endure suffering and to loose life as consequent possibilities of loving Jesus and loving all that he loves. To suffer and to loose one’s life hit the core of human existence. The call of Jesus is radical in nature. It requires much because it gives all.

The Trappist monk in the movie “Of Gods and Men” did not abandon their monastery and the Muslim community where they live in spite of the threat to their lives. They could have easily evaded execution but chose not to. They were murdered in Algeria in 1996 by Muslim extremists. Taking up the cross means, in their case, losing their life for the hungry and the sick. Our circumstances might be different from theirs. However, taking up the cross presents itself in various forms. We only have to be attentive to the Spirit to discern what it asks.

July 16th

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

1st Reading: Ex 2:1-15a:
A certain man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman, who conceived and bore a son. Seeing that he was a goodly child, she hid him for three months. When she could hide him no longer, she took a papyrus basket, daubed it with bitumen and pitch, and putting the child in it, placed it among the reeds on the river bank. His sister stationed herself at a distance to find out what would happen to him.

Pharaoh’s daughter came down to the river to bathe, while her maids walked along the river bank. Noticing the basket among the reeds, she sent her handmaid to fetch it. On opening it, she looked, and lo, there was a baby boy, crying! She was moved with pity for him and said, “It is one of the Hebrews’ children.” Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call one of the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” “Yes, do so,” she answered. So the maiden went and called the child’s own mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will repay you.” The woman therefore took the child and nursed it. When the child grew, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopted him as her son and called him Moses; for she said, “I drew him out of the water.”

On one occasion, after Moses had grown up, when he visited his kinsmen and witnessed their forced labor, he saw an Egyptian striking a Hebrew, one of his own kinsmen. Looking about and seeing no one, he slew the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. The next day he went out again, and now two Hebrews were fighting! So he asked the culprit, “Why are you striking your fellow Hebrew?” But the culprit replied, “Who has appointed you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses became afraid and thought, “The affair must certainly be known.”

Pharaoh, too, heard of the affair and sought to put Moses to death. But Moses fled from him and stayed in the land of Midian.

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, Capernaum, 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.”

In his commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Donald Senior remarked that “The deeds of Jesus have the ultimate purpose of revealing the presence of God’s reign and therefore should lead to repentance.” In reference to the Scribes and Pharisees, Jesus emphatically denounced the Galilean cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, where he taught and performed miracles. He laments the disbelief of the people, in spite of witnessing the dawning of the kingdom of God. They were resistant and blind to Jesus’ offer of salvation, and unwilling to repent. One could feel the anguish and frustration of Jesus over their response.

What could have prevented them from changing their ways of thinking or transforming their lives? Bernard Lonergan’s understanding of bias offers insights into this question. For him, bias involves the disregard of timely and fruitful ideas. It excludes that which may affect constructive results. If one operates along some form of bias, as in the case of those Jesus criticized, he/she would fail to arrive at an objective treatment of an issue at hand. If we cannot deconstruct or get rid of our biases, we will not be able to reach reasonable and correct judgment of reality or of a situation.

July 17th

1st Reading: Ex 3:1-6, 9-12:
Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. Leading the flock across the desert, he came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There an angel of the Lord appeared to him in fire flaming out of a bush. As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush, though on fire, was not consumed. So Moses decided, “I must go over to look at this remarkable sight, and see why the bush is not burned.”

When the Lord saw him coming over to look at it more closely, God called out to him from the bush, “Moses! Moses!” He answered, “Here I am.” God said, “Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. I am the God of your father,” he continued, “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. The cry of the children of Israel has reached me, and I have truly noted that the Egyptians are oppressing them. Come, now!  I will send you to Pharaoh to lead my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?” He answered, “I will be with you; and this shall be your proof that it is I who have sent you: when you bring my people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this very mountain.”

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.

The dawning of the kingdom of God reveals God’s plan of salvation enacted by Jesus in preaching, teaching and healing ministry. The gospel reading today establishes the credibility of Jesus as the “instrument of revelation and knowledge of God” (Brendan Byrne). Citing his knowledge of the Father and the Father’s knowledge of Jesus, he grounds his messianic ministry. Brendan Byrne commented that Jesus and the Father are “locked in a mutual exchange of knowledge.” This means that Jesus and the Father share a relationship of undivided unity. They are intimately one.

And this is the basis of Jesus credibility as bringer of the God’s reign. It is grounded on his relationship with the Father. Even in our time we can share in this relationship of love and knowledge of Jesus and the Father through the Spirit working in us. A prayerful life, a life lived in integrity and honesty, a life lived in service of all creation, humans and nonhumans alike—all these are concrete instances of sharing in this relationship. Participating in the relationship of love of the Father and Jesus (and the Spirit) will help us reorient our lives toward things of authentic value.

July 18th

St. Camillus de Lellis

1st Reading: Ex 3:13-20:
Moses, hearing the voice of the Lord from the burning bush, said to him, “When I go to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ if they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?” God replied, “I am who am.” Then he added, “This is what you shall tell the children of Israel: I AM sent me to you.” God spoke further to Moses, “Thus shall you say to the children of Israel: The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.

“This is my name forever; this my title for all generations. Go and assemble the elders of Israel, and tell them:  The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has appeared to me and said: I am concerned about you and about the way you are being treated in Egypt; so I have decided to lead you up out of the misery of Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey. Thus they will heed your message. Then you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him: ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has sent us word. Permit us, then, to go a three-days’ journey in the desert, that we may offer sacrifice to the Lord, our God.’

Yet I know that the king of Egypt will not allow you to go unless he is forced. I will stretch out my hand, therefore, and smite Egypt by doing all kinds of wondrous deeds there. After that he will send you away.”

Gospel: Mt 11:28-30
Jesus said: “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.“

Yesterday’s gospel reading highlights the basis of Jesus’ credibility and authority. Now Jesus invites people to himself. He did not only say “Come,” but said “Come to me . . .” Emphasis is being made here on his personhood. He invites people, who are burdened and harassed, and have rest in him. He invites them (and us) to enter into relationship in him. The key word here is “relationship.” Coming to Jesus is to enter into relationship with him in the Spirit. For it is only in such relationship that we can learn from him and find rest; it is only in this relationship that we find direction and strength.

Outside this relationship, life becomes chaotic and burdensome. Outside this relationship, we grope in the “dark.” But what is there exactly in the relationship that makes the troubles and challenges of life easier to handle: it is the unconditional and unrestricted love of God flooding our hearts. When this love fills our hearts we begin to see clearly, and we see things anew. Furthermore, we are able to set our bearings straight.

July 19th

1st Reading: Ex 11:10–12:14:
Although Moses and Aaron performed various wonders in Pharaoh’s presence, the Lord made Pharaoh obstinate, and he would not let the children of Israel leave his land.

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall stand at the head of your calendar; you shall reckon it the first month of the year. Tell the whole community of Israel:  On the tenth of this month every one of your families must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household. If a family is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join the nearest household in procuring one and shall share in the lamb in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it. The lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish.

“You may take it from either the sheep or the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then, with the whole assembly of Israel present, it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight. They shall take some of its blood and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel of every house in which they partake of the lamb. That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. It shall not be eaten raw or boiled, but roasted whole, with its head and shanks and inner organs. None of it must be kept beyond the next morning; whatever is left over in the morning shall be burned up.

“This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you shall eat like those who are in flight. It is the Passover of the LORD. For on this same night I will go through Egypt, striking down every first born of the land, both man and beast, and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt—I, the Lord! But the blood will mark the houses where you are. Seeing the blood, I will pass over you; thus, when I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you. This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the Lord, as a perpetual institution.”

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.”

Just as Jesus is the historical face of God on Earth, so is he the embodiment of God’s mercy in visible action among humans. Mercy and compassion are central to Jesus’ saving ministry. All his activities are motivated by his merciful love. Mercy is directed toward the good and well-being of all creation, humans and nonhumans alike. The absence of mercy leads to different forms of abuse and exploitation of our fellow humans and the natural world. Without it, people will find life burdensome and the world of human affairs replete with injustices.

We are familiar with the seven works of mercy, and we are able to perform them—at times with no difficulty. However, there is another work of mercy that was not explicitly articulated as a work of mercy; and, that we might not be aware of (or if we are, we might not have realized that it is a work of mercy), namely the “care of creation.” In 2016 during the celebration of the “Jubilee of Mercy,” Pope Francis added the care of creation as a modern work of mercy, as the eighth work of mercy.

July 20th

St. Apollinaris

1st Reading: Ex 12:37-42:
The children of Israel set out from Rameses for Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, not counting the little ones. A crowd of mixed ancestry also went up with them, besides their livestock, very numerous flocks and herds. Since the dough they had brought out of Egypt was not leavened, they baked it into unleavened loaves. They had rushed out of Egypt and had no opportunity even to prepare food for the journey.

The time the children of Israel had stayed in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. At the end of four hundred and thirty years, all the hosts of the Lord left the land of Egypt on this very date. This was a night of vigil for the Lord, as he led them out of the land of Egypt; so on this same night all the children of Israel must keep a vigil for the Lord throughout their generations.

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.

The task/ministry we assume in the Church is the work of the Spirit. It is good to see our work/apostolate/ministry—whatever we call it—as an extension of the saving activities of Jesus. We are instruments of the Spirit. We are its co-workers. And it is the Spirit that direct us and strengthens us. It is not our work. When we conceive it this way, we do it tirelessly and with more enthusiasm. We tend to be more caring. It is not difficult to know if the Spirit is operative in the task that we perform.

St. Paul identifies for us the fruits of the Spirit’s presence in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, fruitfulness, and self-control (Gal 5:22). They all go together— a package deal. One cannot be missing and the others present. Where the Spirit is, we will find them all. We will always have them no matter how difficult, or challenging, the task is. These fruits of the Spirit are signs, or indicators, that the Spirit dwells in us, that the kingdom of God is settled in our heart.