Bible Diary for July 28th – August 3rd

July 28th

1st Reading: Gen 18:20-32:
Then Yahweh said, “How great is the cry for justice against Sodom and Gomorrah! And how grievous is their sin! I am going down to see if they have done all that they are charged with in the outcry that has reached me. If it is not so, I will know.” The men with him turned away and went towards Sodom, but Yahweh remained standing before Abraham. Abraham went forward and said, “Will you really let the just perish with the wicked? Perhaps there are fifty good people in the town. Are you really going to let them perish? Would you not spare the place for the sake of these fifty righteous people? It would not be at all like you to do such a thing and you can’t let the good perish with the wicked, nor treat the good and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the judge of all the earth be just?”

Yahweh said, “If I find fifty good people in Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” Abraham spoke up again, “I know that I am very bold to speak like this to my Lord, I who am only dust and ashes! But perhaps the number of the good is five less than fifty. Will you destroy the town because of five?” Yahweh replied, “I will not destroy the town if I find forty-five good people there.” Again Abraham said to him, “Perhaps there will be only forty.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” Abraham went on, saying, “May my Lord not be angry, but let me speak. Maybe only thirty good people will be found in the town.”

Yahweh answered, “I will not destroy it if I find thirty there.” Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to my Lord, what if only twenty can be found?” He said, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy the place.” But Abraham insisted, “May my Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found?” And Yahweh answered, “For the sake of ten good people, I will not destroy Sodom.”

2nd Reading: Col 2:12-14:
I refer to baptism. On receiving it, you were buried with Christ; and you also rose with him, for having believed in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. You were dead. You were in sin and uncircumcised at the same time. But God gave you life with Christ. He forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of our debts, those regulations which accused us. He did away with all that, and nailed it to the cross.

Gospel: Lk 11:1-13:
One day, Jesus was praying in a certain place; and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” And Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say this: Father, may your name be held holy, may your kingdom come; give us, each day, the kind of bread we need, and forgive us our sins; for we also forgive all who do us wrong; and do not bring us to the test.”

Jesus said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to his house in the middle of the night and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine who is traveling has just arrived, and I have nothing to offer him.’ Maybe your friend will answer from inside, ‘Don’t bother me now; the door is locked, and my children and I are in bed, so I can’t get up and give you anything.’ But I tell you, even though he will not get up and attend to you because you are a friend, yet he will get up because you are a bother to him, and he will give you all you need. And so I say to you, ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For the one who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to him who knocks the door will be opened. If your child asks for a fish, will you give him a snake instead? And if your child asks for an egg, will you give him a scorpion? If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

Three things may be noted in the prayer that Jesus (thought) taught the disciples: first, it was in a communitarian context that he taught the disciples how to pray. We say, “Our Father” and not “My Father.” This would mean that people in the group/community/Church are in mind. Second, by addressing God as our “Father”, we share in Jesus’ relationship to God as Father. It is through Jesus that we are able to call God “Father”. And third, calling God “Father” brings us to a relationship of sisterhood and brotherhood to the other person who also calls God “Father.”

A new and extraordinary relationship is formed with this person when we call God “Father”. The key here is the “call”; it is not a simple or meaningless “call” we use, but a profound address to God as our “Father”. When we approach God as “Father”, as Jesus did, then we can truly see the person next to us as a sister or a brother. That is why our prayer for daily sustenance, for forgiveness, and for deliverance from temptation, becomes also a prayer for the sisters and brothers who call God their “Father”. God, our “Father”, help us grasp the profundity, meaning and implications of calling you our “Father.”

July 29th

St. Martha

1st Reading: Ex 32:15-24, 30-34:
Moses turned and came down the mountain with the two tablets of the commandments in his hands, tablets that were written on both sides, front and back; tablets that were made by God, having inscriptions on them that were engraved by God himself. Now, when Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, “That sounds like a battle in the camp.” But Moses answered, “It does not sound like cries of victory, nor does it sound like cries of defeat; the sounds that I hear are cries of revelry.” As he drew near the camp, he saw the calf and the dancing. With that, Moses’ wrath flared up, so that he threw the tablets down and broke them on the base of the mountain. Taking the calf they had made, he fused it in the fire and then ground it down to powder, which he scattered on the water and made the children of Israel drink.

Moses asked Aaron, “What did this people ever do to you that you should lead them into so grave a sin?” Aaron replied, “Let not my lord be angry. You know well enough how prone the people are to evil. They said to me, ‘Make us a god to be our leader; as for the man Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.’ So I told them, ‘Let anyone who has gold jewelry take it off.’ They gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and this calf came out.”

On the next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a grave sin. I will go up to the Lord, then; perhaps I may be able to make atonement for your sin.” So Moses went back to the Lord and said, “Ah, this people has indeed committed a grave sin in making a god of gold for themselves! If you would only forgive their sin! If you will not, then strike me out of the book that you have written.” The Lord answered, “Him only who has sinned against me will I strike out of my book. Now, go and lead the people to the place I have told you. My angel will go before you. When it is time for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.”

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.”

Ordinarily, the function of “listening” is to know, to learn something. (It is an intentional or deliberate act. It is not a passive mental act.) But more than this function, a corollary product of listening is that: it prepares one to take action. Have we not experienced in our lives, when we were at a crucial point of making a difficult decision, we took some time to pray, to listen to the Spirit for guidance? In the case of being attentive to God’s word, listening supplies spiritual courage and strength.

Genuine listening empowers one to take action. Assuming a listening attitude or preparing the heart to be attentive is the kind of hospitality God seeks from us, that is, the “hospitality of loving attention and listening” (Brendan Byrne). This is Mary’s “seemingly passive” action, but to Jesus the one thing that is profoundly important. There is nothing more important to Jesus than to give him our undivided attention.

July 30th

St. Peter Chrysologus

1st Reading: Ex 33:7-11; 34:5b-9, 28:
The tent, which was called the meeting tent, Moses used to pitch at some distance away, outside the camp. Anyone who wished to consult the Lord would go to this meeting tent outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the tent, the people would all rise and stand at the entrance of their own tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses entered the tent, the column of cloud would come down and stand at its entrance while the Lord spoke with Moses. On seeing the column of cloud stand at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise and worship at the entrance of their own tents. The LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as one man speaks to another. Moses would then return to the camp, but his young assistant, Joshua, son of Nun, would not move out of the tent.

Moses stood there with the Lord and proclaimed his name, “Lord.” Thus the Lord passed before him and cried out, “The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity, continuing his kindness for a thousand generations, and forgiving wickedness and crime and sin; yet not declaring the guilty guiltless, but punishing children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation for their fathers’ wickedness!” Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship. Then he said, “If I find favor with you, O Lord, do come along in our company. This is indeed a stiff-necked people; yet pardon our wickedness and sins, and receive us as your own.” So Moses stayed there with the Lord for forty days and forty nights, without eating any food or drinking any water, and he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.

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.”

We may be disheartened because of the perennial suffering, persecution and violence happening in every part of the globe. Those who intentionally inflict them do not discriminate; everyone is a prospect. And dastardly actions are unrelenting. Jesus’ words to the disciples is a source of hope in this global human predicament. Jesus, on the one hand, is strong in his message that in the last days those who allow themselves to become instruments of the evil one will not go unpunished.

“Persecution and oppression will not last forever; evil doers will eventually suffer the fate their behavior deserves” (Brendan Byrne). Jesus explication of the parable, on the other hand, assures those who promote peace, justice, and love their heavenly reward. He gives us not only consolation but also hope—hope that our work of advancing the reign and love of God awaits a glorious price. This is our motivation to continue doing good and working against any form of injustice, always becoming a voice of the voiceless.

July 31st

St. Ignatius of Loyola

1st Reading: Ex 34:29-35:
As Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the commandments in his hands, he did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant while he conversed with the Lord. When Aaron, then, and the other children of Israel saw Moses and noticed how radiant the skin of his face had become, they were afraid to come near him. Only after Moses called to them did Aaron and all the rulers of the community come back to him. Moses then spoke to them.

Later on, all the children of Israel came up to him, and he enjoined on them all that the Lord had told him on Mount Sinai. When he finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. Whenever Moses entered the presence of the Lord to converse with him, he removed the veil until he came out again. On coming out, he would tell the children of Israel all that had been commanded. Then the children of Israel would see that the skin of Moses’ face was radiant; so he would again put the veil over his face until he went in to converse with the Lord.

Gospel: Mt 13:44-46:
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.

Each of us has those that might be considered of great value or significance, those we regard as our “treasure”, our “pearl of great price,” such as: a call to do mission, a role in the community, a significant task at work, the family or loved one. All these are accompanied by a profound and, often times, an inexplicable sense of joy, and it is common to all of them. Joy is the “one thing” that renders them priceless. We can even forgo of the compensation, reward, or anything in exchange for what we have given out of ourselves.

Joy frees us from other concerns, allowing us to focus only on the “one thing.” To the disciples this one thing is the following of Jesus. And to Jesus the one thing is the reign of God, the bringing of God’s love to all creation. In our case, our one thing could be our work, our mission in the Church. The joy that accompanies it pulls us, so that what we have and what we do become a contribution to the in-breaking of God’s reign. Joy is an indicator; it points us to the good, to a pearl of great price.

August 1st

St. Alphonsus Liguori

1st Reading: Ex 40:16-21, 34-38:
Moses did exactly as the Lord had commanded him. On the first day of the first month of the second year the Dwelling was erected. It was Moses who erected the Dwelling. He placed its pedestals, set up its boards, put in its bars, and set up its columns. He spread the tent over the Dwelling and put the covering on top of the tent, as the Lord had commanded him. He took the commandments and put them in the ark; he placed poles alongside the ark and set the propitiatory upon it. He brought the ark into the Dwelling and hung the curtain veil, thus screening off the ark of the commandments, as the Lord had commanded him.

Then the cloud covered the meeting tent, and the glory of the Lord filled the Dwelling. Moses could not enter the meeting tent, because the cloud settled down upon it and the glory of the Lord filled the Dwelling. Whenever the cloud rose from the Dwelling, the children of Israel would set out on their journey. But if the cloud did not lift, they would not go forward; only when it lifted did they go forward. In the daytime the cloud of the Lord was seen over the Dwelling; whereas at night, fire was seen in the cloud by the whole house of Israel in all the stages of their journey.

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 understood all these things?” “Yes,” they answered. So he said to them, “Therefore, 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.

One of the marks of Jesus’ disciples, as trained for the reign of God, is being able to comprehend the teachings of Jesus about the in breaking of God’s reign. And this understanding is made possible only through Jesus. The disciples got the meaning of his message, which made them “blessed recipient of the mystery of God’s love” (Donald Senior). Having been guided to a profound understanding of the love of God, they got the message right. Many times we need someone, or few others, to help us understand things. We need people to help us see things that are hidden from view and comprehension.

We know people who have suffered unfortunate, immoral and devastating lives because of the failure to get things right by seeking other people’s knowledge, wisdom and experience about life and human affairs. As often been said: We stand on others’ shoulder to accomplish something. The knowledge, wisdom, experience of others are blocks by which we build our lives. And the Spirit of God puts all these together, cemented in one piece. Genuine understanding of things has the power to raise the level of our consciousness, change our perspective, widen our horizon, and create positive and lasting impacts in human affairs and condition of the natural world.

August 2nd

St. Eusebius of Vercelli
St. Peter Julian Eymard

1st Reading: Lev 23:1, 4-11, 15-16, 27, 34b-37:
The Lord said to Moses, “These are the festivals of the Lord which you shall celebrate at their proper time with a sacred assembly. The Passover of the Lord falls on the fourteenth day of the first month, at the evening twilight. The fifteenth day of this month is the Lord’s feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first of these days you shall hold a sacred assembly and do no sort of work. On each of the seven days you shall offer an oblation to the Lord. Then on the seventh day you shall again hold a sacred assembly and do no sort of work.”

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the children of Israel and tell them: When you come into the land which I am giving you, and reap your harvest, you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest, who shall wave the sheaf before the Lord that it may be acceptable for you. On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall do this. “Beginning with the day after the Sabbath, the day on which you bring the wave-offering sheaf, you shall count seven full weeks, and then on the day after the seventh week, the fiftieth day, you shall present the new cereal offering to the Lord.

“The tenth of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement, when you shall hold a sacred assembly and mortify yourselves and offer an oblation to the Lord.” The fifteenth day of this seventh month is the Lord’s feast of Booths, which shall continue for seven days. On the first day there shall be a sacred assembly, and you shall do no sort of work. For seven days you shall offer an oblation to the Lord, and on the eighth day you shall again hold a sacred assembly and offer an oblation to the Lord. On that solemn closing you shall do no sort of work.

“These, therefore, are the festivals of the Lord on which you shall proclaim a sacred assembly, and offer as an oblation to the Lord burnt offerings and cereal offerings, sacrifices and libations, as prescribed for each day.”

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.

If it were not easy for people at the hometown of Jesus, having seen his miraculous power at work and having heard his teachings, to believe that he is the Messiah and the Son of God, it would be much more difficult for contemporary young people or adults who have not developed faith in God and questions the existence of institutional religions to believe in a Jesus who lived more than two thousand years ago.

In a casual conversation with a young man, who professes to be a non-believer, said he could not believe that this Jesus is the son of God and that he existed or lived on this Earth based on the bible and other books. In reply, I suggested he goes to a quiet place to be alone with himself and sincerely ask God for the gift of faith and to reveal his son to him. I added that he would know Jesus exists and who Jesus is when he experiences genuine love.

August 3rd

1st Reading: Lev 25:1, 8-17:
The Lord said to Moses on Mount Sinai, “Seven weeks of years shall you count–seven times seven years–so that the seven cycles amount to forty-nine years. Then, on the tenth day of the seventh month, let the trumpet resound; on this, the Day of Atonement, the trumpet blast shall re-echo throughout your land. This fiftieth year you shall make sacred by proclaiming liberty in the land for all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when every one of you shall return to his own property, everyone to his own family estate. In this fiftieth year, your year of jubilee, you shall not sow, nor shall you reap the after growth or pick the grapes from the untrimmed vines. Since this is the jubilee, which shall be sacred for you, you may not eat of its produce, except as taken directly from the field.

“In this year of jubilee, then, every one of you shall return to his own property. Therefore, when you sell any land to your neighbor or buy any from him, do not deal unfairly. On the basis of the number of years since the last jubilee shall you purchase the land from your neighbor; and so also, on the basis of the number of years for crops, shall he sell it to you. When the years are many, the price shall be so much the more; when the years are few, the price shall be so much the less. For it is really the number of crops that he sells you. Do not deal unfairly, then; but stand in fear of your God. I, the Lord, am your God.”

Gospel: Mt 14:1-12:
The reports about Jesus reached king Herod. 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 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, 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.

The words of prophet Jeremiah also stands against Herod’s action: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer 29:11). This is exactly the opposite of the malicious and wicked intent of the weak characters in the gospel reading. Herod, a person of weak “moral backbone”, caused harm to both his brother and John the Baptist. To him, John the Baptist, having spoken the word of God and the Torah, is a stumbling block to his evil intent.

He has caused him and his brother an unfortunate lot. An evil heart brings forth evil thoughts and actions; it injures and infringes the concern for justice and mercy. It destroys, rather than create and build. The evil heart disregards the good and well-being of others. It glories in pain and suffering inflicted to others. The misfortune of others is not his business. Because of these, the evil heart can easily be identified. For the human person is gifted with a faculty to know both evil and the good.