Bible Diary for June 18th – June 24th

June 18th

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

1st Reading: Ex 19:2-6a:
In those days, the Israelites came to the desert of Sinai and pitched camp. While Israel was encamped here in front of the mountain, Moses went up the mountain to God. Then the Lord called to him and said, “Thus shall you say to the house of Jacob; tell the Israelites: You have seen for yourselves how I treated the Egyptians and how I bore you up on eagle wings and brought you here to myself. Therefore, if you hearken to my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my special possession, dearer to me than all other people, though all the earth is mine. You shall be to me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.”

2nd Reading: Romans 5:6-11:
Brothers and sisters: Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath. Indeed, if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life. Not only that, but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Gospel: Matthew 9:36-10:8:
At the sight of the crowds, Jesus’ heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” Then he summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness.

The names of the twelve apostles are these: 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 Thaddeus; Simon from Cana, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him. Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus, “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”

Jesus is constantly on the move, teaching in synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom and curing every disease and illness. Jesus has deep compassion on all those who are like sheep without a shepherd. When we were baptized, we become coworkers in the vineyard of the Lord. Every one of us is called to be a laborer with the Lord. I could be the only one who could reach a corner of my own part in the harvest field: my family, my neighbors, my office mates and others who came into my life. I may be the only person who could bring Jesus’ healing and compassion into their lives. Heal those sick friends by your sympathy and support. Give life and vigor to them. They are physically alive but they have stopped living wonderful and meaningful lives. Let them know that they are accepted and loved by God.

June 19th

St. Romuald

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 say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.”

Vindictiveness and vengefulness, these are the kind of feelings that contributes to the escalation of violence. This may look perfectly alright in a society that is fiercely jealous of its possession. When something is exacted, a corresponding value must be paid. It has no room for forgiveness. The peace that ensues from such rigid possession rest uneasy and insecure. This may be the reason why Jesus proposes a new way of seeing and evaluating what justice means. He wants us to embrace the violence of others and transform it with our meekness and gentleness.

Now this calls for a real strength of the spirit and extraordinary self-discipline. Violence coming from violent people if faced head on with violence will not solve the problem. It will only postpone it to erupt again at a later time. Whereas violence can be transformed if the violent heart finds understanding and the willingness to suffer for his or her transformation. And once they forsake violence, we multiply the presence of people with goodwill. Let this be our silent revolution to rid the world of violence. Let our strength lie not in force but in love.

June 20th

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, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

True love does not discriminate. It accepts reality as it is without a conscious effort to change it. The transformation that takes place is not imposed or forced. It is a response to the overwhelming sense that one is loved even if it is most of the time undeserved. This is a tough commandment to follow. Most of our love is narrow and selfish. It is only reserved to those who love us in return. This is where the commandment of Jesus displays a freshness never seen before. It invites the listener to an unconditional love that does not define the boundaries for those to be loved and those who will be excluded in that love. It simply embraces all. We must remember that we are called “catholic” which simply put, means “everybody is welcome.” Everybody will feel this welcome only from a loving heart. That is why Jesus invites us to a heart big enough to give space for all.

June 21st

St. Aloysius Gonzaga
Summer begins

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:
Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. “When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to others to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

There are holiness that distracts because it is too loud. It seeks recognition and praise. This is the brand of holiness that Jesus asks us to shun and flee. It does not help to build the spiritual life of the community. On the contrary it might breed competition, jealousy and envy among those who are not deep enough to realize the shallowness of such contrived form of holiness. And so Jesus invites us to be more focused on the process and not in the form of holiness. To be mindful of its expressions even if it is not recognized or praised by others. The process unfolds quietly. It does not depend on public accolade. It just goes on and continues silently. And when one is totally absorbed to its everyday manifestation, the center is not anymore you but the wonder that unravels before you. And this has the power to inspire others because of its unself-conscious manifestation in the physical realm.

June 22nd

St. Paulinus of Nola
Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More

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: “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “This is how you are to pray: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’ “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

Our conception of God influences the kind of spirituality that will give order and meaning to our lives. It will also color how we deal with the world at large. That is why Jesus introduces us to a Father that is wholly different from our own idea of who He is. Jesus serves as a kind of bridge that brings the Father near to us and we to Him. That is why He taught us the Our Father. This is the only prayer that Jesus prayed recorded in the gospels. This is the prayer He wishes all His disciples to be acquainted with.

Looking at the Our Father, we see a structure that could form our relationship with the Father of Jesus and our Father as well. First, there is praise and thanksgiving to this awesome God. Then the prayer of petition follows. Perhaps what is amazing in this prayer is the fact that when we forgive, we are also forgiven. Ultimately, forgiving others is to forgive ourselves also. So the next time we pray, let God take center stage in our prayer and not our problems and needs. That is the least of our concern for the loving God anticipates our needs and will respond accordingly. And secondly, what we do to others will eventually be what will be done to us in return.

June 23rd

Birth of St. John the Baptist

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:
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. “The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.”

Everyone’s desire is to strike a goldmine, divine or material, for comfort and security. Both desires cause anxiety, because of their possible loss. It doesn’t mean that people should not be concerned about earthly things, but that no created thing can replace the heavenly treasure. “The eye refers to motive. When a person wants to do something, he first forms an intention: … if your intention … is directed towards God, your whole body, that is, all your actions, will be sound, sincerely directed towards good.” (Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on St. Matthew, Mike Harrison)

When there is a short supply or a grand sale of goods, people hoard up. True, one has to worry about hard times. However, a new vision is needed that can look at things unselfishly and communally. One may seek earthly treasure, provided it doesn’t replace the heavenly and is used to love others. Goods can be accumulated, not for their sakes, but to glorify God through love of others. “… To see the world with new eyes – open eyes – loving eyes to choose compassion and understanding – for ourselves, our family, our friends, our community, for the whole world.” (Jonathan Lockwood Huie)

June 24th

Sacred Heart of Jesus

1st Reading: Jer 1:4-10:
In the days of King Josiah, the word of the Lord came to me, saying: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you. “Ah, Lord GOD!” I said, “I know not how to speak; I am too young.” But the Lord answered me, Say not, “I am too young.” To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak. Have no fear before them, because I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord. Then the Lord extended his hand and touched my mouth, saying, See, I place my words in your mouth! This day I set you over nations and over kingdoms, to root up and to tear down, to destroy and to demolish, to build and to plant.

2nd Reading: 1 Pt 1:8-12:
Beloved: Although you have not seen Jesus Christ you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. Concerning this salvation, prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and investigated it, investigating the time and circumstances that the Spirit of Christ within them indicated when he testified in advance to the sufferings destined for Christ and the glories to follow them. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you with regard to the things that have now been announced to you by those who preached the Good News to you through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels longed to look.

Gospel: Lk 1:5-17:
In the days of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah; his wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years. Once when he was serving as priest in his division’s turn before God, according to the practice of the priestly service, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense.

Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside at the hour of the incense offering, the angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar of incense. Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. John will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn their hearts toward their children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord.”

God set in motion His plan of salvation when He sent the angel Gabriel to old Zechariah to take away his shame as a childless man. With the conception of the precursor, the Messiah will not be far behind. The opportune time has come. Not even the skepticism of Zechariah can put on hold the project of God. He will be silenced for a while. There is no use listening to doubts and fears when what has been planned will now be set in motion. The silence of Zechariah will be strategic in not preempting prematurely the dawn of salvation arriving at last.