Bible Diary for June 11th – June 17th
1st Reading: Dt 8:2-3, 14b-16a:
Moses said to the people: “Remember how for forty years now the Lord, your God, has directed all your journeying in the desert, so as to test you by affliction and find out whether or not it was your intention to keep his commandments. He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your fathers, in order to show you that not by bread alone does one live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord. “Do not forget the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery; who guided you through the vast and terrible desert with its saraph serpents and scorpions, its parched and waterless ground; who brought forth water for you from the flinty rock and fed you in the desert with manna, a food unknown to your fathers.”
2nd Reading: 1 Cor 10:16-17:
Brothers and sisters: The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.
Gospel: Jn 6:51-58:
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
The Lord’s bread of life discourse is one of the contentious arguments He has with the Jews who insist on a literalist’s approach to the words of Jesus. If this is the case, the claims of Jesus are hard to believe. The eating of His flesh and the drinking of His blood to have life would be an absurd and macabre assertion. However, Jesus speaks on a different plane. He points to the manna that temporarily saved wandering Israel in the desert when they were hungry as a bread of temporary relief. It rained from heaven. He who came from heaven descended as the bread that will usher eternal life. To understand Him means to draw from various sources of knowledge such as history, customs and traditions.
This is the main conflict He has with the Jews. They use elementary brain process of literal thinking while Jesus employs multiple brain operations of the creative and symbolic thinking. These two brain operations are hard pressed to meet. This inevitably led to open conflict and hostility. Bread is a nourishing food. It is actually delightful to eat if we know where to source it. Today, I will try to share good bread with those close to me. I will make an effort to bake or buy one to be enjoyed with friends. And perhaps, I will make a pitch of inviting them to a mass some time where we can enjoy the bread of life, Jesus Himself, during communion time.
1st Reading: 2 Cor 1:1-7:
Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the Church of God that is at Corinth, with all the holy ones throughout Achaia: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God. For as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow. If we are afflicted, it is for your encouragement and salvation; if we are encouraged, it is for your encouragement, which enables you to endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is firm, for we know that as you share in the sufferings, you also share in the encouragement.
Gospel: Mt 5:1-12:
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Fortune and misfortune are but matters of perception. Both contain the other. It is rather the meaning attached to them that is more important. And so what may patently seem a misfortune for a world that puts the self as the center becomes a source of blessedness for those who have no choice but to bear the hardships the world imposes upon them because they are the weak, the voiceless and those without power to defend their rights. When everything else fail and there is no one to turn to, trust in God to right the patently wrong.
First, He will make it a source of blessing, of a capacity for patient endurance that does not quell the spirit of the person. Rather a resiliency and quiet strength is borne. Secondly, these people purified by their experience will begin to overrun the oppressive structure of society bringing with them the learnings acquired from the experience. Lastly, there will be a new order that comes not from violent revolution but from the transformation that took place in the hearts and minds of God’s own little ones.
1st Reading: 2 Cor 1:18-22:
Brothers and sisters: As God is faithful, our word to you is not “yes” and “no.” For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was proclaimed to you by us, Silvanus and Timothy and me, was not “yes” and “no,” but “yes” has been in him. For however many are the promises of God, their Yes is in him; therefore, the Amen from us also goes through him to God for glory. But the one who gives us security with you in Christ and who anointed us is God; he has also put his seal upon us and given the Spirit in our hearts as a first installment.
Gospel: Mt 5:13-16:
Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”
Salt and light are good metaphors of what we are supposed to be in this world. Salt purifies impurities. It kills bacteria that sets in decay to fresh food. Thus it also preserves. And so as salt we are enjoined to kill all things that lead to sin and to decay both in the moral and spiritual realms. We are also enjoined to preserve the teachings of the Lord. In word and deed they must be proclaimed for others to know.
As light, we prevent others from stumbling. They need not grope in the dark trying to find the way to Jesus. Our light, though feeble it is because of our weak faith, is enough to guide them and prevent them from getting lost. And even if we are far, our light shining in the dark is a beacon of hope for others.
1st Reading: 2 Cor 3:4-11:
Brothers and sisters: Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that of ourselves we are qualified to take credit for anything as coming from us; rather, our qualification comes from God, who has indeed qualified us as ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter brings death, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, was so glorious that the children of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of its glory that was going to fade, how much more will the ministry of the Spirit be glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation was glorious, the ministry of righteousness will abound much more in glory. Indeed, what was endowed with glory has come to have no glory in this respect because of the glory that surpasses it. For if what was going to fade was glorious, how much more will what endures be glorious.
Gospel: Mt 5:17-19:
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”
Sometimes we think that the radical teachings of Jesus springs from His freedom to set aside the Law and proceed instead to do what He wants. On second glance, we realize that the uniqueness and originality of the Lord that sets Him apart from the teachers of that time is His capacity to let loose the liberating power of the Law by fulfilling not its letter but its spirit. That is why the Lord can claim that He does not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it to its fullest intent and meaning. For no Laws that emanate from the will of God is meant to oppress His people. They were crafted to safeguard and guarantee their freedom, the freedom that God gifted His people when He created them. And so, obeying God’s will is not to be a slave to Him but to realize and find the highest expression of our freedom.
1st Reading: 2 Cor 3:15-4:1, 3-6:
Brothers and sisters: To this day, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over the hearts of the children of Israel, but whenever a person turns to the Lord the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit. Therefore, since we have this ministry through the mercy shown us, we are not discouraged.
And even though our Gospel is veiled, it is veiled for those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, so that they may not see the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for the sake of Jesus. For God who said, Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ.
Gospel: Mt 5:20-26:
Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven. “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, Raqa, will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”
We tend to focus on the big stuff and conveniently forgot that it is the smaller stuff that we fail most of the time. As time goes by, these accumulated neglect becomes a fixture so as to become part of our being. Jesus warns us not to think that only those forbidden by the Law matters. Those that leads to such transgressions are what we have to safeguard ourselves the most. This is an invitation to be mindful of what we say and do. But this is what present society lacks.
The capacity to stay aware and focused on what we do. There are too many things that impact us at any given moment of our life. Thus we are not even aware of what is happening inside our heart. When such is the case, our dispersion little by little becomes a moral issue. It is not merely neglect anymore. It becomes part of our habit. Let us stop for a while and take stock of our heart. Perhaps there are many things we ought to reconcile within and without so that when we offer our gifts to the altar of the Lord, the gift comes from a peaceful heart.
1st Reading: Dt 7:6-11:
Moses said to the people: “You are a people sacred to the Lord, your God; he has chosen you from all the nations on the face of the earth to be a people peculiarly his own. It was not because you are the largest of all nations that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you, for you are really the smallest of all nations. It was because the Lord loved you and because of his fidelity to the oath he had sworn your fathers, that he brought you out with his strong hand from the place of slavery, and ransomed you from the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt.
Understand, then, that the Lord, your God, is God indeed, the faithful God who keeps his merciful covenant down to the thousandth generation toward those who love him and keep his commandments, but who repays with destruction a person who hates him; he does not dally with such a one, but makes them personally pay for it. You shall therefore carefully observe the commandments, the statutes and the decrees that I enjoin on you today.”
2nd Reading: 1 Jn 4:7-16:
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.
No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us. This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us, that he has given us of his Spirit. Moreover, we have seen and testify that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world. Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God. We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.
Gospel: Mt 11:25-30:
At that time Jesus exclaimed: “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
When one travels, it is always pleasant when the load is light. Too many baggage spoils the fun. It is therefore an art to travel light, to carry only what is necessary, and to let go of things one can do without. In this travel we call life, we need not agonize on what to carry and on what to let go. Jesus had solved the problem for us. He invites us to carry His load which is easy and light. Where does this sense of lightness come from? It is not because of a reduced load. It rather stems from an attitude that one brings in carrying the load. Jesus loves much that the load He carries in the name of love becomes nothing. Likewise, when we carry loads for the ones we love, they weigh nothing. In the end, it is not the weight but the disposition that is important when we carry the yoke of life.
1st Reading: 2 Cor 5:14-21:
Brothers and sisters: The love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all; therefore, all have died. He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh; even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer.
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.
Gospel: Lk 2:41-51:
Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.
After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.
Our words should have weight because our faithfulness to our spoken words and our commitment to keep them shows others the kind of person we are. Either we can be trusted or not depending on how we keep our word. And so Jesus cautions us not make an elaborate display of oath and swearing in rituals to assure others of our trustworthiness. For on the contrary, only those whose words cannot be trusted need this kind of elaboration. And so, we need to practice to mean what we say and do what we say we should do. This needs a formation that has to go with time. You cannot have trustworthiness at once. It has to be a series of repeated acts where we affirm the trust of others to our words. In short, there are trusts that are earned through time. May we cultivate this wonderful virtue and be like Jesus Christ who is trustworthy in words and deeds.