Bible Diary for July 5th – 11th

July 5th

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. Anthony Zaccaria

1st Reading: Zec 9:9–10:
Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion! Shout for joy, daughter of Jerusalem! For your king is coming, just and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. No more chariots in Ephraim, no more horses in Jerusalem, for he will do away with them. The warrior’s bow shall be broken when he dictates peace to the nations. He will reign from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.

2nd Reading: Rom 8:9, 11–13:
Yet, your existence is not in the flesh, but in the spirit, because the Spirit of God is within you. If you did not have the Spirit of Christ, you would not belong to him. And, if the Spirit of him, who raised Jesus from the dead, is within you, he, who raised Jesus Christ from among the dead, will also give life to your mortal bodies. Yes, he will do it, through his Spirit, who dwells within you. Then, brothers, let us leave the flesh and no longer live according to it. If not, we will die. Rather, walking in the spirit, let us put to death the body’s deeds, so that we may live.

Gospel: Mt 11:25–30:
On that occasion, Jesus said, “Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I praise you; because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to simple people. Yes, Father, this was your gracious will. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father; and no one knows the Father except the Son, and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For my yoke is easy; and my burden is light.”

Our generation seems to be an anxious and overworked lot. We seldom take time to really care for ourselves. Our capacity to recreate is even impaired. Gorging on food, binging on drinks, staying out late at night is equated with fun and entertainment. But are they? In the end, they only wreak havoc on our physical and mental wellness. It even impairs our spiritual state by robbing us of the time to really listen to our inner self. It is in this busy, chaotic lifestyle that Jesus steps in and presents Himself as an alternative to the many things we do to lighten ourselves.

We might have to invest to get to know Him better and we come out the better. To have your burden taken off your back is a refreshing experience. How many times have others helped me with my burdens? Do I help also in return? Today, I will consciously try to ease the burden of others by way of companionship, by listening to them with compassion, or by just assuring them of my prayers. May I lighten their burden by the conscious act I do for them.

July 6th

St. Maria Goretti

1st Reading: Hos 2:16, 17c–18, 21–22:
So I am going to allure her, then I will give back her vineyards, make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There, she will answer me, as in her youth, as when she came out of the land of Egypt. On that day, Yahweh says, you will call me my husband, and never again: my Baal. You will be my spouse forever, betrothed in justice and integrity; we will be united in love and tenderness. I will espouse you in faithfulness; and you will come to know Yahweh.

Gospel: Mt 9:18–26:
While Jesus was speaking to them, an official of the synagogue came up to him, bowed before him and said, “My daughter has just died, but come and place your hands on her, and she will live.” Jesus stood up and followed him with his disciples. Then a woman, who had suffered from a severe bleeding for twelve years, came up from behind and touched the edge of his cloak; for she thought, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”

Jesus turned, saw her and said, “Courage, my daughter, your faith has saved you.” And from that moment, the woman was cured. When Jesus arrived at the official’s house and saw the flute players and the excited crowd, he said, “Get out of here! The girl is not dead. She is only sleeping!” And they laughed at him. But once the crowd had been turned out, Jesus went in and took the girl by the hand, and she stood up. The news of this spread through the whole area.

Two miracles in one day happened. One was deliberately asked by the father of the dead girl and the other was desired in secret by the woman who suffered from severe bleeding for twelve years. In the case of the girl, it was Jesus who touched her to wholeness and life while the woman had to touch Jesus’ cloak from behind to be healed. The former was willed by Jesus; the woman was restored to health because of her faith. Perhaps these two images of healing will help us understand better how miracles work in our life.

July 7th

1st Reading: Hos 8:4–7, 11–13:
Without my approval they set up kings and without my blessing appointed leaders. With their silver and gold they fashioned idols to their own ruin. To me, Samaria, your calf is loathsome; and my anger blazes against you. How long will you remain defiled? The calf is yours, Israel, a craftsman has made it; it is not God and will be broken into pieces. As they sow the wind, they will reap the whirlwind. Stalk without flower, it will never yield flower, or if they do, foreigners will devour it.

Ephraim built many altars; but his altars made him more guilty. I wrote out for him the numerous precepts of my law; but they look on them as coming from foreigners. They offer sacrifices to me because they are those who eat the meat; but Yahweh does not accept their sacrifices, for he is mindful of their sin and remembers their wickedness. They will return to Egypt.

Gospel: Mt 9:32–38:
As they were going away, some people brought to Jesus a man who was dumb, because he was possessed by a demon. When the demon was driven out, the dumb man began to speak. The crowds were astonished and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees said, “He drives away demons with the help of the prince of demons.”

Jesus went around all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom; and he cured every sickness and disease. When he saw the crowds, he was moved with pity; for they were harassed and help-less, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are only few. Ask the master of the harvest to send workers to gather his harvest.”

No matter how much Jesus tried, He could only reach a few. There were simply too many people who needed help. But instead of giving in to helplessness and despair, He looked forward to a time when there would be many “harvesters” working alongside Him. Oftentimes we think of fellow workers of the Lord as a special elite group of people that would be difficult to follow. We tend to forget that in our own state of life, we could extend help by being conscious of our faith and allowing it to shape our choices and decisions. Our example, in word and deed of a lived faith, is enough to do our share in advancing the work of God.

July 8th

1st Reading: Hos 10:1–3, 7–8, 12:
Israel was a spreading vine, rich in fruit. The more his fruit increased, the more altars he built; the more his land prospered, the more he adorned his sacred stones. Their heart is divided! They shall pay for it. Their altars will be thrown down and their sacred stones broken to pieces. Now they say, “We have no king (because we have no fear of God) and what good would a king do us?”

As for the king of Samaria, he has been carried off like foam on water. The idolatrous high places—the sin of Israel—will be destroyed. Thorn and thistle will creep over the altars. Then they will say to the mountains: “Cover us,” and to the hills: “Fall on us.” Plow new ground, sow for yourselves justice and reap the harvest of kindness. It is the time to go seeking Yahweh until he comes to rain salvation on you.

Gospel: Mt 10:1–7:
Jesus called his Twelve disciples to him, and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to drive them out, and to heal every disease and sickness. These are the names of the Twelve apostles: first Simon, called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew, the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon, the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, the man who would betray him. visit pagan territory and do not enter a Samaritan town. 6 Go, instead, to the lost sheep of the people of Israel. Go, and proclaim this message: The kingdom of heaven is near.

And so Jesus has to extend His reach by turning His disciples into fellow harvesters for God’s vineyard. He has to trust that they would be equal to the task. However, the authority He gives them is a measured authority. They have to undergo training before full responsibility will be handed over to them. Thus begins the story of the twelve. They will be mentored by Jesus according to the ways of the Kingdom. He also gives them a smaller geographical area that they can comfortably cover. They will go only to the lost sheep of the people of Israel. This would do for the moment. Their time to take over would come eventually.

July 9th

St. Augustine Zhao Rong and Companions

1st Reading: Hos 11:1–4, 8e–9:
I loved Israel when he was a child; out of Egypt I called my son. But the more I have called, the further have they gone from me—sacrificing to the Baals, burning incense to the idols. Yet, it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; yet, little did they realize that it was I who cared for them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with leading strings of love, and I became for them as one who eases the yoke upon their neck and stoops down to feed them.

How can I give you up, Ephraim? Can I abandon you like Admah or make you like Zeboiim? My heart is troubled within me and I am moved with compassion. I will not give vent to my great anger; I will not return to destroy Ephraim, for I am God and not human. I am the Holy One in your midst; and I do not want to come to you in anger.

Gospel: Mt 10:7–15:
Go, and proclaim this message: The kingdom of heaven is near. Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons. Freely have you received, freely give. Do not carry any gold or silver or money in your purses. Do not take a traveling bag, or an extra shirt, or sandals, or a walking stick: workers deserve to be compensated. When you come to a town or a village, look for a worthy person, and stay there until you leave. When you enter the house, wish it peace.

If the people are worthy people, your peace will rest on them; if they are not worthy people, your blessing will come back to you. And if you are not welcomed, and your words are not listened to, leave that house or that town, and shake the dust off your feet. I assure you, it will go easier for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment, than it will for the people of that town.

The mission has been spelled out. Now is the time to execute it. However Jesus gives them certain provisions for their journey. They will go only with their clothes on and stay in one house while they minister to a town. There are also prohibitions: absolutely no extra baggage nor walking stick nor any money while on the road. They will have to depend on the generosity of God who is the author and sustainer of the works they do.

July 10th

1st Reading: Hos 14:2–10:
Return to your God, Yahweh, O Israel! Your sins have caused your downfall. Return to Yahweh with humble words. Say to him, “Oh, you who show compassion to the fatherless, forgive our debt, be appeased. Instead of bulls and sacrifices, accept the praise from our lips. Assyria will not save us: no longer shall we look for horses, nor ever again shall we say ‘Our gods’ to the work of our hands.” I will heal their disloyalty and love them with all my heart, for my anger has turned from them. I shall be like dew to Israel, like the lily will he blossom. Like a cedar, he will send down his roots; his young shoots will grow and spread.

His splendor will be like an olive tree, his fragrance, like a Lebanon cedar. They will dwell in my shade again, they will flourish like the grain, they will blossom like a vine, and their fame will be like Lebanon wine. What would Ephraim do with idols, when it is I who hear and make him prosper? I am like an evergreen cypress tree; all your fruitfulness comes from me. Who is wise enough to grasp all this? Who is discerning and will understand? Straight are the ways of Yahweh: the just walk in them, but the sinners stumble.

Gospel: Mt 10:16–23:
Look, I send you out like sheep among wolves. You must be as clever as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard with people, for they will hand you over to their courts, and they will flog you in their synagogues. You will be brought to trial before rulers and kings because of me, so that you may witness to them and the pagans. But when you are arrested, do not worry about what you are to say, or how you are to say it; when the hour comes, you will be given what you are to say.

For it will not be you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father, speaking through you. Brother will hand over his brother to death, and a father his child; children will turn against their parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me, but whoever stands firm to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next. I tell you the truth, you will not have passed through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

Even if God is the sender of missionaries, still it pays for them to exercise prudence and human sensibilities. They will work amidst various contending forces. They must be able to navigate themselves as much as possible without compromising the mission. However, when push comes to shove, they have to remain firm and unwavering. Help will be given when it is needed, but not in the way the world thinks it should be. God works in ways that the world sometimes does not comprehend. Whatever it may be, we are assured that the better part has been chosen by God Himself.

July 11th

St. Benedict

1st Reading: Is 6:1–8:
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted; the train of his robe filled the Temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: two to cover the face, two to cover the feet, and two to fly with. They were calling to one another:“ Holy, holy, holy is Yahweh Sabaoth. All the earth is filled with his glory!” At the sound of their voices the foundations of the threshold shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

I said, “Poor me! I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips living among a people of unclean lips, and yet I have seen the King, Yahweh Sabaoth.” Then one of the seraphs flew to me; in his hands was a live coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar. He touched my mouth with it and said,“ See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin is forgiven.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” I answered, “Here I am. Send me!”

Gospel: Mt 10:24–33:
A student is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. A student should be content to become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If the head of the household has been called Beelzebul, how much more, those of his household! So, do not be afraid of them! There is nothing covered that will not be uncovered. There is nothing hidden that will not be made known. What I am telling you in the dark, you must speak in the light. What you hear in private, proclaim from the housetops.

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but have no power to kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of him who can destroy both body and soul in hell. For a few cents you can buy two sparrows. Yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father knowing. As for you, every hair of your head has been counted. Do not be afraid: you are worth more than many sparrows! Whoever acknowledges me be -fore others, I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven. Whoever rejects me before others, I will reject before my Father in heaven.

Continuing the theme of mission, Jesus seemed to give His disciples a foretaste of what’s in store for them. Since they cannot be greater than Him, their Teacher and Guide, what He has undergone, they too will undergo. It may be daunting for some who at once will think of the calumnies and persecutions the Lord had to deal with in His lifetime. Of course the cross looms large and foreboding in the horizon. That’s why it is not good to follow the Lord half–heartedly. We cannot choose our paths; to give up halfway would be a waste of time and energy expended during the first half of the journey. Fear is to be acknowledged but it should be set aside. We follow Him till the end.