Bible Diary for July 21st – 27th

July 21st

St. Lawrence of Brindisi

1st Reading: Gen 18:1-10a:
Yahweh appeared to Abraham near the oaks of Mamre. Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent, in the heat of the day, when he looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them he ran from the entrance of the tent to meet them. He bowed to the ground and said, “My Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought. Wash your feet and then rest under the trees. I shall fetch some bread so that you can be refreshed and continue on your way, since you have come to your servant.” They then said, “Do as you say.”

Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said to her, “Quick, take three measures of flour, knead it and make cakes.” Abraham then ran to the herd, took a fine, tender calf, gave it to the servant who hurried to prepare it. He took butter and milk and together with the calf he had prepared laid it all before them. And while he remained standing, they ate. They then asked, “Where is Sarah, your wife?” Abraham answered, “She is in the tent.” And the visitor said, “At this same time next year I will return and Sarah by then will have a son.” Now Sarah was behind him, listening at the entrance to the tent.

2nd Reading: Col 1:24-28:
At present, I rejoice when I suffer for you; I complete, in my own flesh, what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ, for the sake of his body, which is the church. For I am serving the church since God entrusted to me the ministry to make the word of God fully known. I mean that mysterious plan that, for centuries and generations, remained secret, and which God has now revealed to his holy ones. God willed to make known to them the riches, and even the glory, that his mysterious plan reserved for the pagan nations: Christ is in you, and you may hope God‘s glory. This Christ, we preach. We warn, and teach everyone true wisdom, aiming to make everyone perfect, in Christ.

Gospel: Lk 10:38-42:
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he entered a village, and a woman called Martha welcomed him to her house. She had a sister named Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet to listen to his words. Martha, meanwhile, was busy with all the serving, and finally she said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work? Tell her to help me!” But the Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you worry and are troubled about many things, whereas only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken away from her.”

In his visit to the house of Mary and Martha, Jesus is not very particular about the details of hospitality; he is more concern with the more important form of hospitality, a spiritual hospitality, namely the listening to his words. We may also call it: the “hospitality of loving attention and listening” (Brendan Byrne). It is a deeper kind of hospitality, which Mary accorded to Jesus. It is the “only one thing” that Jesus has commended as something needed.

Another thing that differentiates Mary from Martha is that she has recognized God’s visit through Jesus. This recognition prompted her to offer Jesus an open heart. For the poor and the vulnerable of our society, this is also the kind of hospitality that they can offer when the word of God is heard. It is spiritually the most necessary (R. T. France). With the hospitality of attention and listening comes also the hospitality of trust. Lord, help us open our hearts to your word; may it bring life to our ailing spirit.

July 22nd

St. Mary Magdalene

1st Reading: Ex 14:5-18:
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:
Now, on the first day after the Sabbath, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark, and she saw that the stone blocking the tomb had been moved away. (…) Mary stood weeping outside the tomb; and as she wept, she bent down to look inside. She saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head, and the other at the feet. They said, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

She answered, “Because they have taken my Lord and I don’t know where they have put him.” (…) Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned, and said to him, “Rabboni!”— which means Master. Jesus said to her, “Do not touch me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them: I am ascending to my Father, who is your Father, to my God, who is your God.” So Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord, and this is what he said to me.”

Like the disciples and the people whose lives have been touched by Jesus’ redeeming love, Mary grieves the loss of Jesus after his death on the cross. Now she is also losing the body of her Lord (which makes her grieving even stronger); the tomb is empty. But not for long that her intense sorrow and sense of loss is turned into overwhelming joy at the sight of Jesus. Seeing Jesus answers why the tomb is empty: Jesus is resurrected.

The resurrection of Jesus shows that death does not have the final say; it is God’s love. The pure and unrestricted love of God brought Jesus back to life. It brings back that which death has taken away—life. If death terminates life, God’s love restores it. Jesus’ resurrection pronounces the ultimate defeat of death; it renders death powerless. It serves as an assurance of our hope for new life with God. And it also provides us a foretaste of the promise of new creation in the book of Revelation.

July 23rd

St. Bridget of Sweden

1st Reading: Ex 14:21–15:1:
Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord swept the sea with a strong east wind throughout the night and so turned it into dry land. When the water was thus divided, the children of Israel marched into the midst of the sea on dry land, with the water like a wall to their right and to their left.

The Egyptians followed in pursuit; all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and charioteers went after them right into the midst of the sea. In the night watch just before dawn the Lord cast through the column of the fiery cloud upon the Egyptian force a glance that threw it into a panic; and he so clogged their chariot wheels that they could hardly drive. With that the Egyptians sounded the retreat before Israel, because the Lord was fighting for them against the Egyptians.

Then the Lord told Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may flow back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and their charioteers.” So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea flowed back to its normal depth. The Egyptians were fleeing head on toward the sea, when the Lord hurled them into its midst. As the water flowed back, it covered the chariots and the charioteers of Pharaoh’s whole army that had followed the children of Israel into the sea. Not a single one of them escaped.

But the children of Israel had marched on dry land through the midst of the sea, with the water like a wall to their right and to their left. Thus the Lord saved Israel on that day from the power of the Egyptians. When Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore and beheld the great power that the Lord had shown against the Egyptians, they feared the Lord and believed in him and in his servant Moses.

Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the Lord: I will sing to the Lord, for he is gloriously triumphant; horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.

Gospel: Mt 12:46-50:
While Jesus was talking to the people, his mother and his brothers wanted to speak to him, and they waited outside. So someone said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside; they want to speak with you.” Jesus answered, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look! Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

By inaugurating the reign of God, Jesus establishes a “new historical family” on Earth. This new family is characterized by faith in Jesus and doing God’s will. Jesus is straightforward in saying that the doing of the will of the Father makes one a brother, a sister and a mother to him. It is the condition for becoming a member of this new family of faith. It needs to be said here that prior to having faith and the doing of God’s will is conversion. Conversion, or repentance, leads to following Jesus and living out God’s will.

It is the passport toward a relationship with God and other people who have undergone the same conversion. The closest possible relationship one can have is determined by our biological make-up, that is, our blood relationship with our siblings and parents. In the new family of faith in kingdom of God, doing the will of God is the bond, the connection, which brings together all those who believe in Jesus and the gospel. Beyond familial relationship, it is the principle that brings us into a relationship with one another.

July 24th

St. Sharbel Makhlúf

1st Reading: Ex 16:1-5, 9-15:
The children of Israel set out from Elim, and came into the desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from the land of Egypt. Here in the desert the whole assembly of the children of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The children of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died at the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread! But you had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine!”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will now rain down bread from heaven for you. Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion; thus will I test them, to see whether they follow my instructions or not. On the sixth day, however, when they prepare what they bring in, let it be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Tell the whole congregation of the children of Israel: Present yourselves before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.” When Aaron announced this to the whole assembly of the children of Israel, they turned toward the desert, and lo, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud! The Lord spoke to Moses and said, “I have heard the grumbling of the children of Israel. Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread, so that you may know that I, the Lord, am your God.”

In the evening quail came up and covered the camp. In the morning a dew lay all about the camp, and when the dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert were fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground. On seeing it, the children of Israel asked one another, “What is this?” for they did not know what it was. But Moses told them, “This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.”

Gospel: Mt 13:1-9:
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!”

A number of elements in the parable may be an excellent focus for reflection, namely: sower, the seed, the ground, the act of sowing itself, the receiving of the seeds, and the meeting of the seeds and the ground. All, being important, make possible the meeting or the encounter. At any stage, or circumstance—might be people or events—in our life, an encounter with Jesus becomes a defining moment. It may or may not be transforming, depending on our response.

But it is something we can take advantage of. An encounter with Jesus can make us whole again, bringing together our “scattered pieces.” As fruits of the encounter, we are re-grounded in the truth and meaningfulness of life; we are able to re-orient ourselves toward the good, the truth, and that which is meaningful. Let us, therefore, pray that we truly encounter Jesus, even just once in our lifetime, because it will radically change us and our life, and allow us to see things in a new light.

July 25th

St. James

1st Reading: 2 Cor 4:7-15:
Brothers and sisters:
We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke, we too believe and therefore speak, knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence. Everything indeed is for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.

Gospel: Mt 20:20-28:
Then the mother of James and John came to Jesus with her sons, and she knelt down, to ask a favor. Jesus said to her, “What do you want?” And she answered, “Here, you have my two sons. Grant, that they may sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus said to the brothers, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They answered, “We can.” Jesus replied, “You will indeed drink my cup; but to sit at my right or at my left is not for me to grant. That will be for those, for whom my Father has prepared it.”

The other ten heard all this, and were angry with the two brothers. Then Jesus called them to him and said, “You know, that the rulers of nations behave like tyrants, and the powerful oppress them. It shall not be so among you: whoever wants to be great in your community, let him minister to the community. And if you want to be the first of all, make yourself the servant of all. Be like the Son of Man, who came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life to redeem many.”

Jesus sets the criteria for greatness, that is service. It is not power or the position one assumes. He laid this down as distinctive feature of how things run in the kingdom. In the community of disciples, human affairs are not to proceed through ambition and power, but service as the principle that should characterize the community, particularly those who hold leadership position(s). A stark contrast is made clear, and Jesus modeled the manner by which the disciples/we are to conduct themselves/ourselves.

Service, as motivated by love, addresses and fills a need. It seeks and is directed toward the good of the other. It is a going out of oneself because it sees a need outside of himself/ herself. Whereas ambition’s and power’s primary objective is self-interest. Because they are directed toward self-benefit, ambition and power corrupts the human person. Their oppressive exercise manipulates, abuse and destroy. And their end result is the disintegration of Earth-human relationship and community.

July 26th

Sts. Joachim and Anne

1st Reading: Ex 20:1-17:
In those days: God delivered all these commandments:
“I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them. For I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their fathers’ wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain. For the Lord will not leave unpunished him who takes his name in vain.

“Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord, your God. No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter, or your male or female slave, or your beast, or by the alien who lives with you. In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord has blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

“Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you.

“You shall not kill.

“You shall not commit adultery.

“You shall not steal.

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass, nor anything else that belongs to him.”

Gospel: Mt 13:18-23:
Jesus said to his disciples: “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.“

Jesus explication of the meaning of the parable emphasizes the kind of “soil”, or the kind of heart, that receives God’s message of love. Only the good soil, enables the seed to grow and bear fruit; it is only the receptive heart that serves as fertile ground for God’s offer of forgiveness and love, and nothing else.

The receptive heart is the condition through which God’s word may develop and bear fruits of goodness, kindness, justice, tolerance, and forbearance. These fruits are dependent on the condition of the human heart, which is characterized by faith and repentance, prayers and acts of kindness, and mercy and compassion. The parable invites us to reconsider the condition of our heart. How can we continuously transform it?

July 27th

1st Reading: Ex 24:3-8:
When Moses came to the people and related all the words and ordinances of the Lord, they all answered with one voice, “We will do everything that the Lord has told us.” Moses then wrote down all the words of the Lord and, rising early the next day, he erected at the foot of the mountain an altar and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. 

Then, having sent certain young men of the children of Israel to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice young bulls as peace offerings to the Lord, Moses took half of the blood and put it in large bowls; the other half he splashed on the altar.

Taking the book of the covenant, he read it aloud to the people, who answered, “All that the Lord has said, we will heed and do.” Then he took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words of his.”

Gospel: Mt 13:24-30:
Jesus told the people another parable, “The kingdom of heaven can be compared to a man, who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep, his enemy came, and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the plants sprouted and produced grain, the weeds also appeared. Then, the servants of the owner came, and said to him, ‘Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? Where did the weeds come from?’ He answered them, ‘This is the work of an enemy.’ They asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull up the weeds?’ He told them, ‘No, when you pull up the weeds, you might uproot the wheat with them. Let them grow together, until harvest; and, at harvest time, I will say to the workers: Pull up the weeds first, tie them in bundles and burn them; then gather the wheat into my barn.’”

Evil is in opposition to God. Its primary intent is to destroy the good that God has made: everything that bears God’s love, anything that expresses his goodness. Jesus recognizes and identifies the existence of evil in the world and its capacity to wield destructive power within the created order. He is aware of its power to inflict suffering and pain. The evil one is out there simply to destroy God’s beautiful creation, humans and non-humans alike; and his main agent of destruction is humanity itself.

Just as we can be instruments of God’s goodness, so too can we become means of unleashing this evil power. The evil one’s focus of ruination is “relationships”. Relationship is a basic element within creation. Human society, family, friendship collapse, when relationship breaks down. The environment, the natural world, decline, when human relationship with them is characterized by alienation. What are the forms and manner that the evil one uses to ruin relationships?