Bible Diary for July 16th – July 22nd
15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Foundation Day of the Claretian Missionaries
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
1st Reading: Is 55:10-11:
Thus says the Lord: Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.
2nd Reading: Rom 8:18-23:
Brothers and sisters: I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
Gospel: Mt 13:1-23:
On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.” The disciples approached him and said, “Why do you speak to them in parables?”
He said to them in reply, “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand. Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and be converted, and I heal them. But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear.
“Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. Hear then the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away. The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”
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 lose 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.
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:
Jesus said to his Apostles: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household. “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 after me is not worthy of me.
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is righteous will receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple– amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.” When Jesus finished giving these commands to his Twelve disciples, he went away from that place to teach and to preach 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.
St. Camillus de Lellis
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:
Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And as for you, Capernaum: Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the netherworld. For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of 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.
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:
At that time Jesus exclaimed: “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes 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.
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 labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden 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.
St. Lawrence of Brindisi
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:
Jesus was going through a field of grain on the sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the sabbath.” He said to the them, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry, how he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering, which neither he nor his companions but only the priests could lawfully eat? Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath the priests serving in the temple violate the sabbath and are innocent? I say to you, something greater than the temple is here. If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned these innocent men. For 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.
St. Mary Magdalene
1st Reading: Sgs 3:1-4b:
The Bride says: On my bed at night I sought him whom my heart loves– I sought him but I did not find him. I will rise then and go about the city; in the streets and crossings I will seek Him whom my heart loves. I sought him but I did not find him. The watchmen came upon me, as they made their rounds of the city: Have you seen him whom my heart loves? I had hardly left them when I found him whom my heart loves.
Gospel: Jn 20:1-2, 11-18:
On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the Body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.”
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and then reported what he told her.
Today we celebrate the feast of Mary of Magdala, the woman who earned a distinction of being one of the followers of Jesus who did not abandon Him even at the lowest moment of her Lord’s life. Little is known about her and the persistent caricature of her as a sinful woman is altogether false. But she figured prominently in the resurrection event. She was the first to see the Risen Lord and announce the good news to the still hesitant, fearful disciples. Henceforth she will be called “apostle to the apostles”–an honor she earned through her constant unwavering adherence to Jesus even in moments when hope was nowhere in sight.