Bible Diary for July 26th – August 1st

July 26th

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. Joachim
St. Anne

1st Reading: 1 K 3:5, 7–12:
It was in Gibeon, during the night, that Yahweh appeared to Solomon in a dream and said, “Ask what you want me to give you.” “And now, O Yahweh my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a young boy who does not know how to undertake anything. Meantime, your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen—a people so great that they can neither be numbered nor counted. Give me, therefore, an understanding mind in governing your people that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to govern this multitude of people of yours?”

Yahweh was pleased that Solomon had made this request. And he told him, “Because you have requested this rather than long life or wealth or even vengeance on your enemies; indeed, because you have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I shall grant you your request. I now give you a wise and discerning mind such as no one has had before you nor anyone after you shall ever have.

2nd Reading: Rom 8:28–30:
We know that in everything, God works for the good of those who love him, whom he has called, according to his plan. Those whom he knew beforehand, he has also predestined, to be like his Son, similar to him, so, that, he may be the Firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And so, those whom God predestined, he called; and those whom he called, he makes righteous; and to those whom he makes righteous, he will give his glory.

Gospel: Mt 13:44–52:
The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure, hidden in a field. The one who finds it, buries it again; and so happy is he, that he goes and sells everything he has, in order to buy that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a trader, who is looking for fine pearls. Once he has found a pearl of exceptional quality, he goes away, sells everything he has and buys it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a big fishing net, let down into the sea, in which every kind of fish has been caught. When the net is full, it is dragged ashore.

Then they sit down and gather the good fish into buckets, but throw the bad away. That is how it will be at the end of time; the angels will go out to separate the wicked from the just, and to throw the wicked into the blazing furnace, where they will weep and gnash their teeth.” Jesus asked, “Have you understood all these things?” “Yes,” they answered. So he said to them, “There fore, every teacher of the law, who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of heaven, is like a householder, who can produce from his store things both new and old.”

In coaching others toward a meaningful life, we have to be creative just as Jesus was creative in stirring the hearts and minds of His listeners. He provided them with an emotional memory of His teachings. This lasts more than the beautiful concepts and ideas that we forward them. If we but just look around, the whole creation speaks of God. It is only a matter of sitting down and taking time to see in what manner we can use them to advance the project of God. This time around we not only need scholars to theologize about our faith but more so, creative thinkers who will find ways and means to transmit the faith that touches not only the head but also the heart.

Jesus has shown us the way. We need to recover this tradition to educate this world that has turned deaf ears to our concepts and principles because they have lost the power to stir the souls of people. I have been relying big time on my left brain operations of sequential logical thinking. I hardly have time to develop my right brain of the affective creative thinking. Today, I will start developing the right hemisphere of my brain by downloading from the internet references that will enhance my creative bents. There are also books that will guide me. I will invest in one to give me the skills to relish the symbolic, allegorical meanings in the bible.

July 27th

1st Reading: Jer 13:1–11:
This is what Yahweh said to me: “Go! Buy yourself a linen belt and put it around your waist; do not put it in water.” So I bought the belt as Yahweh ordered and put it around my waist. The word of Yahweh came to me a second time, “Take the belt you bought, the one you put around your waist, and go to the torrent Perah; hide it there in a hole in the rock.” I went and hid it as Yahweh instructed me. After many days Yahweh said to me, “Go to the torrent Perah and get the belt I ordered you to hide there.”

I went to the torrent and dug up the belt but it was ruined and good for nothing; and Yahweh said to me, “In this way I will destroy the pride and great glory of Judah, this wicked people who refuse to heed what I say, this stubborn people who go after other gods to serve and worship them. And they shall become like this belt which is now good for nothing. For just as a belt is to be bound around a man’s waist so was the people of Israel and Judah bound to me—it is Yahweh who speaks—to be my people, my glory and my honor; but they would not listen.”

Gospel: Mt 13:31–35:
Jesus offered them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is smaller than all other seeds, but once it is fully grown, it is bigger than any garden plant; like a tree, the birds come and rest in its branches.” He told them another parable, “The kingdom of heaven is like the yeast that a woman took, and hid in three measures of flour, until the whole mass of dough began to rise.” Jesus taught all these things to the crowds by means of parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. This fulfilled what was spoken by the Prophet: I will speak in parables. I will proclaim things kept secret since the beginning of the world.

Teaching is an art. Those who are truly teachers know how to simplify complex concepts for the benefit of their students. Jesus is no exception. He does not impress or build up His reputation as a teacher by deliberately showing off His skills and learning. His main concern is for His audience to understand Him. And so, examples and analogies are drawn from everyday life. One has to exercise only his or her faculty of imagination to understand what is being revealed. But for those who overly intellectualize God and His works, all of Jesus’ teachings will be incomprehensible. For God truly reveals what was hidden from ages to the simple and ordinary people.

July 28th

1st Reading: Jer 14:17–22:
This you will say to them: Let my eyes shed tears night and day without ceasing! For with a great wound has the virgin daughter of my people been wounded, a most grievous wound. If I go into the country, I see those slain by the sword. If I enter the city I see the ravages of famine. For the prophet and the priest did not understand what was happening in the land. Have you then rejected Judah forever? Do you abhor Zion? Why have you wounded us and left us with no hope of recovery?

We hoped for salvation but received nothing good; we waited for healing, but terror came! Yahweh, we know our wickedness and that of our ancestors, and the times we have sinned against you. For your name’s sake do not despise us; do not dishonor the throne of your glory. Remember us. Do not break your Covenant with us! Among the worthless idols of the nations, are there any who can bring rain, or make the skies send showers? Only in you, Yahweh our God, do we hope, for it is you who do all this.

Gospel: Mt 13:36–43:
Then he sent the crowds away and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”

 Jesus answered them, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world; the good seed are the people of the kingdom; the weeds are those who follow the evil one. The enemy who sows the weeds is the devil; the harvest is the end of time, and the workers are the angels. Just as the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so will it be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom all that is scandalous and all who do evil. And these will be thrown into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the just will shine, like the sun, in the kingdom of their Father. If you have ears, then hear.”

Despite being near to the Lord, the disciples have a long way to go before they can truly understand the teachings of Jesus. Their one great advantage from the rest is the ease of access to the Teacher. They can directly ask Him for clarification and get instant answers. This is a privilege not enjoyed by all. This reminds us that being close and intimate with Jesus has its own perks. One need not fall in line to get an answer for our doubts and uncertainties in life. The good news is, everyone can have this privilege. Jesus is no ordinary teacher hampered by our ordinary human conditions. He can attend to us simultaneously without breaking sweat. But we have to be His friends. Our chance to be one starts now.

July 29th

St. Martha

1st Reading: Jer 15:10, 16–21:
Woe is me, Mother, why did you bring me to the light? A man of dissension throughout the land! I owe them nothing, neither do they owe me, yet they all curse me! I devoured your words when they came. They were my happiness and I felt full of joy when you made your name rest on me. I never associate with worldly people, amusing myself with scoffers! When your hand was upon me I stood apart and you filled me with your anger. Why is there no end to my sorrow or healing for my wound? Why do you deceive me, and why does my spring suddenly dry up?

Then Yahweh spoke to me, “If you return I will take you back and you will serve me again. Draw the gold from the dross and you will be as my own mouth. You must draw them to you and not go over to them. I will make you a fortress and a wall of bronze facing them; if they fight against you they will not overcome you; I am with you to free you and save you. I will redeem you from the wicked and free you from the hands of tyrants.”

Gospel: Jn 11:19-27:
Many Jews had come to Martha and Mary, after the death of their brother, to comfort them. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him, while Mary remained sitting in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha replied, “I know that he will rise in the resurrection, at the last day.” But Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection. Whoever believes in me, though he die, shall live. Whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Martha then answered, “Yes, Lord, I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world.”

Today’s Gospel text is one which we can easily relate with. It resonates well with our experiences especially when we are in great pain or in deep sorrow. When something bad happens or when a tragedy befalls us, like Martha we are often led to say, “Lord, if you had been here… this would not have happened.“ When she said that, Martha was not being resentful and was putting the blame on the Lord for Lazarus’ death. Nor was she trying to make Jesus feel guilty for his apparent insensitivity or lack of concern. It actually expresses her faith and trust in Jesus and his power over death.

That is why later on she was able to proclaim, “Yes, Lord, I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God…“ Do we have a faith as strong as Martha’s so that even amidst tragedy or in suffering we can still hold on to God, putting our trust in Him? Martha’s friendship with Jesus has brought about growth in her faith. Hospitably welcoming him and his disciples into her home and providing some of their needs as they went about ministering to people helped her come to know the Lord better. Welcoming others into our homes and into our lives will likewise enable us to see Jesus better and grow in our faith and relationship with Him.

July 30th

St. Peter Chrysologus

1st Reading: Jer 18:1–6:
This is the word of Yahweh that came to Jeremiah: “Go down to the potter’s house and there you will hear what I have to say.” So I went to the potter’s house and found him working at the wheel. But the pot he was working on was spoiled in his hands, so he reworked it all over again into another pot that suits his desire. Meanwhile Yahweh sent me his word, “People of Israel, can I not do with you what this potter does? As clay in the potter’s hand so are you in my hands.”

Gospel: Mt 13:47–53:
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a big fishing net, let down into the sea, in which every kind of fish has been caught. When the net is full, it is dragged ashore. Then they sit down and gather the good fish into buckets, but throw the bad away. That is how it will be at the end of time; the angels will go out to separate the wicked from the just, and to throw the wicked into the blazing furnace, where they will weep and gnash their teeth.”

Jesus asked, “Have you under-stood all these things?” “Yes,” they answered. So he said to them, “There fore, every teacher of the law, who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of heaven, is like a householder, who can produce from his store things both new and old.” When Jesus had finished these parables, he left that place.

The big fishing net as an image of the Kingdom is a beautiful image. It makes us imagine all sorts of people being dragged into it and given a chance. For the Kingdom is not discriminating. Experience has shown that people thought of as unfit have proven themselves worthy of the gift. A case example is Ignatius of Loyola whose feast we celebrate tomorrow. At first glance, he seemed to be a bad recruit: a noble man with a penchant for war. But history showed us otherwise. He turned out to be a good catch. And so the fishing net of the Kingdom is still being cast out to catch more people. May the likes of Ignatius be caught so that the Kingdom will expand in breadth and number.

July 31st

St. Ignatius of Loyola

1st Reading: Jer 26:1–9:
At the beginning of the reign of Judah’s king Jehoiakim son of Josiah, the word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah: Yahweh says this, “Stand in the courtyard of Yahweh’s house and say to all who come from the towns of Judah to worship in Yahweh’s house—all that I command you to say; do not omit anything! Perhaps they will listen to you. Perhaps each one will turn from his wicked ways. Then I will change my mind and forget the destruction that I have planned to inflict on them because of their wicked deeds.

Tell them: This is what Yahweh says: “You have not obeyed me and you have failed to walk according to my law which I have set before you. You have not heeded my servants, the prophets, whom I have persistently sent to you. If you stubbornly close your ears to them, I will treat this house of mine as I treated the Sanctuary of Shiloh and let all the nations see that Jerusalem is a cursed city.”

The priests, the prophets and all the people heard what Jeremiah said in Yahweh’s house. When Jeremiah finished saying all that Yahweh had commanded, he was besieged by the priests and prophets saying, “You are bound to die! How dare you speak in Yahweh’s Name telling us that this house will be treated like Shiloh and this city is to become a deserted ruin.” And all the people gathered around Jeremiah in the house of Yahweh.

Gospel: Mt 13:54–58:
He went to his hometown and taught the people in their synagogue. They were amazed and said, “Where did he get this wisdom and these special powers? Isn’t he the carpenter’s son? Isn’t Mary his mother and aren’t James, Joseph, Simon and Judas his brothers? Aren’t all his sisters living here? Where did he get all these things?” And so they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “The only place where prophets are not welcome is his hometown and in his own family.” And he did not perform many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

Familiarity with someone sometimes robs us of the power to see beyond what we think we know. We get stuck with an image of that person that we do not allow to grow, develop and transform. Sometimes, this holding on to that familiar image is tinged with nostalgia and good memories. It represents a simple and uncomplicated knowledge of someone familiar. However, people change. They are full of surprises. This is the case of Jesus when He returns to His home town.

August 1st

St. Alphonsus Liguori

1st Reading: Jer 26:11–16, 24:
Then the priests and the prophets said to the leaders of the people: “This man must die for he has spoken against the city as you have heard with your own ears!”

Jeremiah replied, “I have been sent by Yahweh to prophesy against this house and this city all that you have heard. Hence, reform your ways and your deeds and obey Yahweh your God that he may change his mind and not bring upon you the destruction he had intended. As for me I am in your hands; do with me whatever you consider just and right. But know that I am innocent; and if you take my life you commit a crime that is a curse on yourselves, on the city and the people. In truth it was Yahweh who sent me to say all that I said in your hearing.”

Then the leaders, backed by the people, said to the priests and the prophets, “This man does not deserve death; he spoke to us in the Name of Yahweh.” As for Jeremiah he was befriended by Ahikam, son of Shaphan, and was not handed over to those who wanted him put to death.

Gospel: Mt 14:1–12:
At that time, the reports about Jesus reached king, and he said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist. John has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in John.” Herod had, in fact, ordered that John be arrested, bound in chains and put in prison, because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip.

For John had said to Herod, “It is not right for you to have her as your wife.” Herod wanted to kill him but he did not dare, because he feared the people, who regarded John as a prophet. On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced among the guests; she so delighted Herod 7 that he promised under oath to give her anything she asked for. The girl, following the advice of her mother, said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist, here, on a dish.”

The king was very displeased, but because he had made his promise under oath, in the presence of his guests, he ordered it to be given to her. So he had John beheaded in prison, 11 and his head brought on a dish and given to the girl. The girl then took it to her mother. Then John’s disciples came, took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.

There are things that will not rest easily. They come back to haunt and torment us. This is especially true if we have done something unjust and we know it. Our mind goes back from time to time to the injustice we have committed. That is why Herod sees John everywhere. Now that the news about Jesus reaches his ear, he immediately thinks of it as John resurrected. For it is said that there is no respite for the unjust. Their sins will always be before them. That is why blessed are the lowly and meek of heart. Theirs is a life free from the guilt of those who wield power unjustly.