Bible Diary for July 30th – August 5th
17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. Peter Chrysologus
1st Reading: 1 Kgs 3:5, 7-12:
The Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” Solomon answered: “O Lord, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed my father David; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act. I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong. For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?”
The Lord was pleased that Solomon made this request. So God said to him: “Because you have asked for this— not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right— I do as you requested. I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you.”
2nd Reading: Rom 8:28-30:
Brothers and sisters: We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified.
Gospel: Mt 13:44-52:
Jesus said to his disciples: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.
“When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Do you understand all these things?” They answered, “Yes.” And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the 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.
St. Ignatius of Loyola
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: Mt 13:31-35:
Jesus proposed a parable to the crowds. “The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.” He spoke to them another parable. “The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.” All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. He spoke to them only in parables, to fulfill what had been said through the prophet: I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation 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.
St. Alphonsus Liguori
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:
Jesus dismissed the crowds and went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the Kingdom. The weeds are the children of the Evil One, and the enemy who sows them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to 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.
St. Eusebius of Vercelli
St. Peter Julian Eymard
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:
Jesus said to his disciples: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”
Encountering the Lord Jesus and being invited to his Kingdom is like finding a treasure or discovering a pearl of great price. When given this tremendous blessing we are not to allow it to escape us; on the contrary, we should do everything, and if need be, give up everything to possess it. Jesus himself is the Kingdom in person. To hear oneself being addressed by him amounts to coming across the most precious of all treasures. Obviously, the only reasonable thing to do is to stake everything on him.
The two parables suggest that in order to possess Christ and to enter His Kingdom, it is necessary to leave everything behind. Detachment from everything that is incompatible is an indispensable condition. The Gospel uses the phrase “sell everything” to illustrate this point. This could mean having to die to oneself, selfishness, craving for security, appetite for domination, desire for comfort, desire for adulation and worldly fame. One has to give up everything in order to have Christ as his or her sole possession. One must give up all personal idols so that he or she can worship only Him.
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:
Jesus said to the disciples: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” “Do you understand all these things?” They answered, “Yes.” And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the Kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.” When Jesus finished these parables, he went away from there.
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 today. 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.
St. John Vianney
1st Reading: Lv 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:
Jesus came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.” And he did not work many mighty deeds 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 hometown.
Dedication of St. Mary Major Basilica
1st Reading: Lv 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, every one to his own family estate. In this fiftieth year, your year of jubilee, you shall not sow, nor shall you reap the aftergrowth 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:
Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.” Now Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, for John had said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people, for they regarded him as a prophet.
But at a birthday celebration for Herod, the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests and delighted Herod so much that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests who were present, he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. His disciples came and took away the corpse and buried him; and 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.