Bible Diary for June 14th – 20th
Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ
1st Reading: Dt 8:2–3,14b–16a:
Remember how Yahweh, your God, brought you through the desert for forty years. He humbled you, to test you and know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. He made you experience want, he made you experience hunger, but he gave you manna to eat which neither you nor your fathers had known, to show you that one does not live on bread alone, but also by everything that comes from the mouth of God. Then do not let your heart become proud and do not forget Yahweh, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of slavery.
It is he who has led you across this great and terrible desert, full of fiery serpents and scorpions, an arid land where there is no water. But for you he made water gush forth from the hardest rock. But if you forget Yahweh and follow other gods, if you pay them homage and bow before them, I warn you right now that you will surely perish. In the same way that Yahweh destroyed the nations that stood in your way, so will he destroy you if you disobey Yahweh, your God.
2nd Reading: 1 Cor 10:16–17:
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a communion with the blood of Christ? And the bread that we break, is it not a communion with the body of Christ? The bread is one, and so we, though many, form one body, sharing the one bread.
Gospel: Jn 6:51–58:
“I am the living bread from heaven; whoever eats of this bread will live forever. The bread I shall give is my flesh, and I will give it for the life of the world.” The Jews were arguing among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
So Jesus replied, “Truly, I say to you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. My flesh is really food, and my blood is truly drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood, live in me, and I in them. Just as the Father, who is life, sent me, and I have life from the Father, so whoever eats me will have life from me. This is the bread from heaven; not like that of your ancestors, who ate and later died. Those who eat 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: 1 Kgs 21:1–16:
Now Naboth, a man from Jezreel, owned a vineyard just beside the palace of Ahab, king of Samaria. Ahab asked Naboth, “Give me your vineyard which is near my house that I may use it for a vegetable garden. I will give you a better vine-yard in exchange. Or, if you prefer, I will pay you its price.” But Naboth said to Ahab, “Yahweh forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” So Ahab went home angry and sad because of what Naboth had told him, that he would not give him the inheritance of his fathers.
So he lay down on his bed with his face turned toward the wall and refused to eat. His wife Jezebel came to him and said, “Why are you so angry that you refuse to eat?” He answered, “I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and asked him to sell me his vineyard or to exchange it for another one in exchange; but he answered: I will not give you my vineyard.” His wife Jezebel said to him, “Are you not king of Israel? Get up and eat and be joyful, for I will give you the vineyard of Naboth of Jezreel.”
So Jezebel wrote letters using Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters to the elders and important persons living near Naboth. This is what she wrote in the letters: “Declare a fast and put Naboth on trial. Get two scoundrels to accuse him in this way: ‘You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.” The people, the elders and the important persons who lived in his city did as Jezebel had instructed them in the letters she sent to them. They declared a fast and put Naboth on trial.
The two worthless fellows came in and sat facing him, accusing Naboth before the people, “Naboth cursed God and the king!” So the people took him outside the city and stoned him to death. They then sent word to Jezebel that Naboth had been stoned and was dead. As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, she told Ahab, “Now take possession of the vineyard of Naboth, the man of Jezreel who refused to sell it to you, for Naboth is now dead.” As soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he went down to the vineyard of Naboth and took possession of it.
Gospel: Mt 5:38–42:
You have heard, that it was said: An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you this: do not oppose evil with evil; if someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn and offer the other. If someone sues you in court for your shirt, give him your coat as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give when asked, and do not turn your back on anyone who wants to borrow from you.
If we react to a situation it is usually by instinct. We need not think what we have to do. We give back what we receive automatically. And so Jesus cautions us today to do away with reaction. It does not change but abets the already negative environment. We are called to transform the negative into positive. We need to transform the bad to the good. Doing so means we have to start with ourselves. This calls for a sacrifice of the ego.
1st Reading: 1 Kgs 21:17-29:
After the death of Naboth the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite: “Start down to meet Ahab, king of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He will be in the vineyard of Naboth, of which he has come to take possession. This is what you shall tell him, ‘The Lord says: After murdering, do you also take possession? For this, the Lord says: In the place where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, the dogs shall lick up your blood, too.’” Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me out, my enemy?” “Yes,” he answered.
“Because you have given yourself up to doing evil in the Lord’s sight, I am bringing evil upon you: I will destroy you and will cut off every male in Ahab’s line, whether slave or freeman, in Israel. I will make your house like that of Jeroboam, son of Nebat, and like that of Baasha, son of Ahijah, because of how you have provoked me by leading Israel into sin.” (Against Jezebel, too, the Lord declared, “The dogs shall devour Jezebel in the district of Jezreel.”)
“When one of Ahab’s line dies in the city, dogs will devour him; when one of them dies in the field, the birds of the sky will devour him.” Indeed, no one gave himself up to the doing of evil in the sight of the Lord as did Ahab, urged on by his wife Jezebel. He became completely abominable by following idols, just as the Amorites had done, whom the Lord drove out before the children of Israel. When Ahab heard these words, he tore his garments and put on sackcloth over his bare flesh. He fasted, slept in the sackcloth, and went about subdued. Then the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Have you seen that Ahab has humbled himself before me? Since he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his time. I will bring the evil upon his house during the reign of his son.”
Gospel: Mt 5:43-48:
You have heard, that it was said: Love your neighbor and do not do good to your enemy. But this I tell you: love your enemies; and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in Heaven. For he makes his sun rise on both the wicked and the good; and he gives rain to both the just and the unjust. If you love those who love you, what is special about that? Do not even tax collectors do as much? And if you are friendly only to your friends, what is so exceptional about that? Do not even the pagans do as much? As for you, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Love is not only an emotion, but also a decision that involves free will and is carried out by words and actions. Jesus doesn’t command us to like everyone. We cannot program our hearts to like everyone. In fact we are entitled to dislike people who do us wrong. It is thus natural to like our friends and to dislike our enemies. However, Jesus commands to love our enemies. This means I may dislike someone for having betrayed me, but I can choose to love the person by owning my anger yet treating him or her with respect and compassion.
1st Reading: 2 Kgs 2:1, 6–14:
Yahweh took Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind. It happened this way: Elijah and Elisha had left Gilgal, and Elijah said to Elisha. Elijah said once more to Elisha, “Stay here, I beg you, for Yahweh is only sending me to the Jordan.” But Elisha answered, “I swear by Yahweh and by your life that I will never leave you.” And as they went on their way, fifty fellow prophets of Jericho followed them at a certain distance. When Elijah and Elisha stood by the Jordan Elijah took his mantle, rolled it, and struck the water with it. The water parted to both sides and they crossed over on dry ground.
After they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “What shall I do for you be -fore I am taken away from you? Ask me.” Elisha said, “May I receive a double portion of your spirit.” Elijah answered, “Your request is most diff -cult. Yet if you see me while I am being taken from you, then you shall have it. But if not, you shall not have it.” As they were talking on the way, a chariot of fire with horses of fire stood between them, and Elijah was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind.
Elisha saw him and cried out, “Father, my father, chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” When Elisha lost sight of him, he took hold of his own clothes and tore them. He then picked up the mantle which had fallen from Elijah and returned to the banks of the Jordan. He took the cloak that had fallen off Elijah, hit the water with it, and asked, “Where is the Yahweh, the God of Elijah?” When he hit the water again, it divided and Elisha crossed over.
Gospel: Mt 6:1–6, 16–18:
Be careful not to make a show of your good deeds before people. If you do so, you do not gain any -thing from your Father in heaven. When you give something to the poor, do not have it trumpeted before you, as do those who want to be noticed in the synagogues and in the streets, in order to be praised by people. I assure you, they have their reward. If you give something to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your gift remains really secret. Your Father, who sees what is kept secret, will reward you.
When you pray, do not be like those who want to be noticed. They love to stand and pray in the synagogues or on street corners, in order to be seen by everyone. I assure you, they have their reward. 6 When you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father who is with you in secret; and your Father who sees what is kept secret will reward you.
When you fast, do not put on a miserable face, as do the hypocrites. They put on a gloomy face, so that people can see they are fasting. I tell you this: they have been paid in full already. When you fast, wash your face and make yourself look cheerful, because you are not fasting for appearances or for people, but for your Father, who sees beyond appearances. And your Father, who sees what is kept secret, will reward you.
Genuine goodness need not trumpet itself. The very act of doing good is its own reward. It is most happy when it realizes itself. For a good deed that wants to be rewarded by recognition does not spring from a good heart but a heart in need. It is as poor as the recipients of the deed it has done, probably much poorer. It is therefore not a virtue but a way to fill up one’s inner poverty. Jesus knows this very well. So today he invites us to do good according to the style of the Father and His own: one that is unobtrusive and sincere.
1st Reading: Sir 48:1–14:
Then came the prophet Elijah, like a fire, his words a burning torch. He brought a famine on the people and in his zealous love had them reduced in number. Speaking in the name of the Lord he closed the heavens, and on three occasions called down fire. How marvelous you were, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds! Who could ever boast of being your equal? By the word of the Most High you brought a dead man back to life; you brought kings to destruction and thrust famous men from their beds. You heard a rebuke at Sinai and sentences of punishment at Horeb; you anointed kings to be avengers and prophets to succeed you.
You were taken up by a whirlwind of flames in a chariot drawn by fiery horses. It was written that you should be the one to calm God’s anger in the future, before it broke out in fury, to turn the hearts of fathers to their sons and to restore the tribes of Jacob. Happy are those who will see you and those who die in love, for we too shall live. Such was Elijah, taken up in a whirlwind, and Elisha was filled with his spirit. During his life no leader could shake him, no one dominated him. Nothing was too difficult for him and even in death his body prophesied. In life he worked wonders, in death his deeds were amazing.
Gospel: Mt 6:7–15:
When you pray, do not use a lot of words, as the pagans do; for they believe that, the more they say, the more chance they have of being heard. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need, even be – fore you ask him. This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, holy be your name, your kingdom, come, your will, be done on earth, as in heaven. Give us today, our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we forgive those who are in debt to us. Do not bring us to the test, but deliver us from the evil one. If you forgive others their wrongdoings, your Father in heaven will also forgive yours. If you do not for-give others, then your Father will not forgive you.
Our way of praying to the Father varies from one person to another. It depends on our person and our degree of intimacy with the Father. But the common thing we do is to start with words. We string words together to communicate with the Father. This at least could be shared. What cannot be transferred is the disposition behind the utterances of the same words. In today’s Gospel, Jesus taught His disciples the words He used to talk to His Father. It is the first step to initiate His friends in an intimate relationship with the Father. He can show them by example how a life lived in proximity to the Father is. But it would be the personal effort of the disciples to awaken their love for the Father while praying.
Solemnity of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
1st Reading: Dt 7:6–11:
You are a people consecrated to Yahweh, your God. Yahweh has chosen you from among all the peoples on the face of the earth, that you may be his own people. Yahweh has bound himself to you and has chosen you, not because you are the most numerous among all the peoples (on the contrary, you are the least). Rather, he has chosen you because of his love for you and to fulfill the oath he made to your fathers.
Therefore, with a firm hand Yahweh brought you out from slavery in Egypt, from the power of Pharaoh. So know that Yahweh, your God, is the true and faithful God. He keeps his covenant, and his love reaches to the thousandth generation for those who love him and fulfill his commandments, but he punishes in their own persons those who hate him and he repays them without delay. So keep the commandments, the norms and the laws that today I command you to practice.
2nd Reading: 1 Jn 4:7–16:
My dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves, is born of God and knows God. Those who do not love have not known God, for God is love. How did the love of God appear among us? God sent his only Son into this world, that we might have life, through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that, he first loved us and sent his Son, as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, if such has been the love of God, we, too, must love one another.
No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love comes to its perfection in us. How may we know that we live in God and he in us? Because God has given us his Spirit. We ourselves have seen, and declare, that the Father sent his Son to save the world. Those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in them, and they in God. We have known the love of God and have believed in it. God is love. The one who lives in love, lives in God, and God in him.
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.”
There is a divine bias for the simple people. God seems to reserve the best things to those who are not great in this world. Does this mean that God is also prone for our human tendencies to have preference on one over the other? But if we think about it, all of us are in a way little and small in the eyes of God. There is nothing that we can boast of in front of Him to make our statures bigger than what it may seem. In the end, His bias is for all of us. It is our fault that we think highly of ourselves or allow the world to delude us that we are a cut above the rest. It is us who leave behind our lowly stature in exchange for the puny honor of this world. It is us who choose the lowly part and not God.
Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary
1st Reading: 2 Chr 24:17–25:
After the death of Jehoiada, the princes of Judah came and paid homage to King Joash, and the king then listened to them. They forsook the temple of the Lord, the God of their fathers, and began to serve the sacred poles and the idols; and because of this crime of theirs, wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem. Although prophets were sent to them to convert them to the Lord, the people would not listen to their warnings.
Then the Spirit of God possessed Zechariah, son of Jehoiada the priest. He took his stand above the people and said to them: “God says, ‘Why are you transgressing the Lord’s commands, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have abandoned the Lord, he has abandoned you. ’”But they conspired against him, and at the king’s order they stoned him to death in the court of the Lord’s temple.
Thus King Joash was unmindful of the devotion shown him by Jehoiada, Zechariah’s father, and slew his son. And as Zechariah was dying, he said, “May the Lord see and avenge.” At the turn of the year a force of Arameans came up against Joash. They invaded Judah and Jerusalem, did away with all the princes of the people, and sent all their spoil to the king of Damascus.
Though the Aramean force came with few men, the Lord surrendered a very large force into their power, because Judah had abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers. So punishment was meted out to Joash. After the Arameans had departed from him, leaving him in grievous suffering, his servants conspired against him because of the murder of the son of Jehoiada the priest. He was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.
Gospel: Lk 2:41–51:
Every year, the parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover, as was customary. And when Jesus was twelve years old, he went up with them, according to the custom of this feast. After the festival was over, they returned, but the boy Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and his parents did not know it.
They assumed that he was in their group of travelers, and, after walking the whole day, they looked for him among their relatives and friends. As they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem, searching for him; and, on the third day, they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. And all the people were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
His parents were very surprised when they saw him; and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I were very worried while searching for you.” Then he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand this answer. Jesus went down with them, returning to Nazareth, and he continued to be obedient to them. As for his mother, she kept all these things in her heart.
The heart of Mary is the most famous organ of her body. It has even surpassed in popularity the womb that bore the Savior in this world. After all, it is her heart that was tasked the most by her ministry of becoming the mother of the Son of God. From the Annunciation to the birth and Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, down to the Lord’s public ministry and His Passion, Death and Resurrection, Mary’s heart constantly pondered on the gradual unfolding of her Son’s being. She may not have fully understood at that time, but the memory of her Son kept in her heart made her steadfast in her belief in her Son and Lord. This is why Mary’s heart is Immaculate and pure. It endured so much for her Son because it was where she kept all her memory of Him.