Bible Diary for June 16th – 22nd
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
1st Reading: Prov 8:22-31:
Yahweh created me first, at the beginning of his works. He formed me from of old, from eternity, even before the earth. The abyss did not exist when I was born, the springs of the sea had not gushed forth, the mountains were still not set in their place nor the hills, when I was born before he made the earth or countryside, or the first grains of the world’s dust.
I was there when he made the skies and drew the earth’s compass on the abyss, when he formed the clouds above and when the springs of the ocean emerged; when he made the sea with its limits, that it might not overflow. When he laid the foundations of the earth, I was close beside him, the designer of his works, and I was his daily delight, forever playing in his presence, playing throughout the world and delighting to be with humans.
2nd Reading: Rom 5:1-5:
By faith, we have received true righteousness, and we are at peace with God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Through him, we obtain this favor, in which we remain, and we even boast to expect the glory of God. Not only that, we also boast even in trials, knowing that trials produce patience, from patience comes merit; merit is the source of hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because the Holy Spirit has been given to us, pouring into our hearts the love of God.
Gospel: Jn 16:12-15:
I still have many things to tell you, but you cannot bear them now. When he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into the whole truth. For he will not speak of his own authority, but will speak what he hears, and he will tell you about the things which are to come. He will take what is mine and make it known to you; in doing this, he will glorify me. All that the Father has is mine; for this reason, I told you that the Spirit will take what is mine, and make it known to you.
The belief in the Holy Trinity gives us the model for forming ecclesial communities, religious congregations and the Church as a whole. We recognize the existence of the Trinity every time we make the sign of the cross, recite the Glory, Apostle’s Creed and many other prayers. Lord, Triune God, help me to live your mystery. I can best be a Christian if I believe in you. My Catholic faith falls apart once I deny your existence. The Bible too becomes meaningless, if I do not appreciate your mystery.
1st Reading: 2 Cor 6:1-10
Brothers and sisters:
As your fellow workers, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
For he says: In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.
Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We cause no one to stumble in anything, in order that no fault may be found with our ministry; on the contrary, in everything we commend ourselves as ministers of God, through much endurance, in afflictions, hardships, constraints, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, vigils, fasts; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in unfeigned love, in truthful speech, in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness at the right and at the left; through glory and dishonor, insult and praise.
We are treated as deceivers and yet are truthful; as unrecognized and yet acknowledged; as dying and behold we live; as chastised and yet not put to death; as sorrowful yet always rejoicing; as poor yet enriching many; as having nothing and yet possessing all things.
Gospel: Mt 5:38-42:
Jesus said to his disciples: “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.“
Many people are not comfortable with Jesus’ teaching on the Mount of Beatitudes that there should be no vengeance. That saying “an eye for eye,” “a tooth for a tooth,” should be replaced with a non-violent stance “turning the other cheek.” Jesus challenges his followers to develop the ability to absorb hardships and physical injuries to stop the spiral of violence. He will later prove that this is doable when he endures the insults, blows, scourges and crucifixion on Mt. Calvary. It has salvific effect. If his followers are vindictive, how will they be different from their countrymen and the pagans?
How will they gain followers of Christ? How will they communicate to people that there is a better or humane way to cope with harsh situations? How will they form communities of love, understanding and forgiveness if they live the culture of vengeance and getting even? Vindictive people cannot develop long-term friendships. They are avoided by people who do not want to start a war or engage in a meaningless conflict. Vindictive people are actually not protecting their dignity and freedom which they claim, but actually releasing their perceived power over others.
1st Reading: 2 Cor 8:1-9:
We want you to know, brothers and sisters, of the grace of God that has been given to the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their profound poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For according to their means, I can testify, and beyond their means, spontaneously, they begged us insistently for the favor of taking part in the service to the holy ones, and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and to us through the will of God, so that we urged Titus that, as he had already begun, he should also complete for you this gracious act also.
Now as you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse, knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love we have for you, may you excel in this gracious act also. I say this not by way of command, but to test the genuineness of your love by your concern for others. For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that for your sake he became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich.
Gospel: Mt 5:43-48:
Jesus said to his disciples: “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.“
Jesus makes another exhortation which is hard to swallow. It is loving one’s enemies. We can imagine that his listeners were reacting as he was saying this thing, like “turning the other cheek.” But Jesus does not stop issuing such statement. He continues to motivate them. He reminds them of the magnanimity of the Father who is not selective in extending his blessings. He uses the imagery of the sun and the rain that benefit all. Jesus also reasons out that loving one’s enemy brings them to a higher level of existence.
Limiting love to only those who love us is living like the tax collectors and other sinners. His disciples must exhibit an outstanding behavior. They must outdo the pagans who are nice only to their friends. At the end, Jesus gives them the ultimate reason for doing something more than usual: to be perfect like the Father. Perfection is not about precision, flawlessness or getting a one hundred percent score, but the ability to extend one’s heart even to those who are not pleasant in one’s sight. It is going beyond our own pride and established beliefs to be able reach out to others.
1st Reading: 2 Cor 9:6-11:
Brothers and sisters, consider this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work.
As it is written: He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.
The one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You are being enriched in every way for all generosity, which through us produces thanksgiving to God.
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 anything 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. 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 re ward 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.
Jesus wants his disciples to purify their motives when they do good things. Doing them without proper motivation is not meritorious. Nowadays we have penchant for showing off the little things we do because of the cheap social media. There we can advertise ourselves without cost. Other people take pictures of us and post them easily in the parish or personal social media account or in the newsletter, without our permission. It has become hard to distinguish between giving plain information and satisfying our narcissistic tendencies.
Here we have to discern where we are really coming from when we get involved in charitable activities. We have to admit that many good things are happening in our parishes without being trumpeted. The parishioners feed the indigent children without taking pictures. Some take photos with their mobile phones but keep them for personal use. Others are engaged in medical and dental mission in the far-flung areas focused on their work, without bringing video cams and camera. Those who work quietly do meritorious jobs in the Lord’s eyes.
1st Reading: 2 Cor 11:1-11:
Brothers and sisters:
If only you would put up with a little foolishness from me! Please put up with me. For I am jealous of you with the jealousy of God, since I betrothed you to one husband to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts may be corrupted from a sincere and pure commitment to Christ. For if someone comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it well enough. For I think that I am not in any way inferior to these “superapostles.” Even if I am untrained in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.
Did I make a mistake when I humbled myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached the Gospel of God to you without charge? I plundered other churches by accepting from them in order to minister to you. And when I was with you and in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my needs. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. By the truth of Christ in me, this boast of mine shall not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!
Gospel: Mt 6:7-15:
Jesus said to his disciples: “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 before 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 forgive others, then your Father will not forgive you.“
Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray. When praying, they should not imitate the noisy style of the pagans who think God is insensitive to their needs. The Father listens to this kind of prayer, which we entitle, the “Lord’s Prayer.” We use this prayer in our devotions and Eucharistic celebrations. It is noteworthy to observe the center of the prayer. It is the petition of the daily wage earner who makes it possible to procure daily bread, or in old English, bread for the morrow (for tomorrow) for his family.
When he is assured of the bread for the next day, it means he has a good sleep the night before. He does not worry about the food of his family next day when he leaves again for work. Another point to consider is the importance of forgiveness. The word “forgive” occurs two times in the prayer and four times in the paragraph after the prayer.
St. Aloysius Gonzaga
1st Reading: 2 Cor 11:18, 21-30:
Brothers and sisters:
Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast. To my shame I say that we were too weak! But what anyone dares to boast of (I am speaking in foolishness) I also dare. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they children of Israel? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I am talking like an insane person). I am still more, with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, far worse beatings, and numerous brushes with death. Five times at the hands of the Jews.
I received forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I passed a night and a day on the deep; on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own race, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, dangers among false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many sleepless nights, through hunger and thirst, through frequent fastings, through cold and exposure. And apart from these things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is led to sin, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
Gospel: Mt 6:19-23:
Do not store up treasures for yourself here, on earth, where moth and rust destroy it; and where thieves can steal it. Store up treasures for yourself with God, where no moth or rust can destroy it, nor thief come and steal it. For where your treasures is, there, also, will your heart be. The lamp of the body is the eye; if your eyes are sound, your whole body will be full of light. If your eyes are diseased, your whole body will be full of darkness. If, then, the light in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
Treasures are our valuables. They may be difficult to accumulate. We have to work hard. But we can easily lose them because of bad elements lurking around us like insects or thieves. So Jesus highly recommends that we consider storing up spiritual treasures that cannot be taken away from us. As long as we are alive, we do not worry about their loss. We bring them wherever we go. What are these treasures? Again these are not material riches, like money, gold, jewelries that can be counted, weighed in scales or time deposited, but the joy that proceeds from listening to the Word of God.
These treasures are also our spiritual insights that give us proper perspective to the world around us and give us hints how to deal with other people justly and mercifully. The eye or other senses of our body can be our material treasures. We have to take care of them. We enjoy life because we have good taste buds, we hear beautiful music, we see the beauty of people around us, we feel the tender touch of our loved ones. Faith is our ultimate treasure. When we lose it, our world becomes totally dark.
St. Paulinus of Nola
Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More
1st Reading: 2 Cor 12:1-10:
Brothers and sisters:
I must boast; not that it is profitable, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who, fourteen years ago (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows), was caught up to the third heaven. And I know that this man (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows) was caught up into Paradise and heard ineffable things, which no one may utter. About this man I will boast, but about myself I will not boast, except about my weaknesses. Although if I should wish to boast, I would not be foolish, for I would be telling the truth. But I refrain, so that no one may think more of me than what he sees in me or hears from me because of the abundance of the revelations.
Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Gospel: Mt 6:24-34:
No one can serve two masters; for he will either hate one and love the other; or he will be loyal to the first and look down on the second. You cannot, at the same time, serve God and money. Therefore, I tell you, not to be worried about food and drink for yourself, or about clothes for your body. Is not life more important than food; and is not the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow, they do not harvest, and do not store food in barns; and yet, your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not less worthy than they are? (…) Do not worry, and say: What are we going to eat? What are we going to drink? or: What shall we wear? The pagans busy themselves with such things; but your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. Set your heart, first, on the kingdom and righteousness of God; and all these things will also be given to you. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Why do some people keep so much money, buy many properties, invest a lot and increase their wealth as much as possible? They believe that it is the right thing to do. They want to secure their future and their children’s. Some accumulate riches for the sake of it. Others are just over anxious of their future. From the point of view of Jesus, we can avoid worrying so much which lead us to inordinate and exaggerated accumulation of wealth, if we develop trust in the Lord. We must believe that God provides for our needs, present and future.
He is a responsible God. He takes care of all the animals and plants. How much more when he deals with us humans who can help ourselves? We can reduce our activity on money making when we increase our trust in God. This is shown when we give more time to prayer and caring for other people. There must be a limit to our pursuit of wealth and fortune. It is stressful. We are happier when we give more time to our provident Father and share the things we have.