Bible Diary for June 20th – 26th

June 20th

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

1st Reading: Job 38:1, 8–11:
Then Yahweh answered Job out of the storm: Who shut the sea behind closed doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling clothes; when I set its limits with doors and bars in place, when I said, “You will not go beyond these bounds; here is where your proud waves must halt?”

2nd Reading: 2 Cor 5:14–17:
Indeed the love of Christ holds us and we realize that if he died for all, all have died. He died for all so that those who live may live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and rose again for them. And so from now on, we do not regard anyone from a human point of view; and even if we once knew Christ personally, we should now regard him in another way. For that same reason, the one who is in Christ is a new creature. For him the old things have passed away; a new world has come.

Gospel: Mk 4:35–41:
On that same day, when evening had come, Jesus said to them, “Let’s go across to the other side of the lake.” So they left the crowd, and took him along in the boat he had been sitting in, and other boats set out with him. Then a storm gathered and it began to blow a gale. The waves spilled over into the boat, so that it was soon filled with water. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.

They woke him up, and said, “Master, don’t you care if we drown?” And rising up, Jesus rebuked the wind, and ordered the sea, “Quiet now! Be still!” The wind dropped, and there was a great calm. Then Jesus said to them, “Why are you so frightened? Do you still have no faith?” But they were terrified, and they said to one another, “Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him!”

This symbolic element of the sea includes other significant details which are rich in meaning and applications in our own personal and communitarian lives: the night (time and direction), the boat (the Christian community), the sleep of Jesus (death of Jesus), and the storm (difficulties and trials). Oftentimes, we just come and pray to God when we are already experiencing difficulties and we ask: Where are you Lord? He seems to be silent. But one who has faith in Christ does not come to him only when things go wrong. Let us remember that Jesus, even when asleep, was always with his disciples.

Lord, we have been experiencing natural and man-made calamities; we are burdened and in pain. Amidst these experiences, you continue to give us each new day to pursue our journey. Help us find your blessings in the experience of storm in our lives and help us rise from our downfall, giving us the grace to see more deeply your calling for all of us! Amen. Give time to count your blessings amidst the experience of difficulties and trials! Celebrate with a friend, break your routine and go for a dinner.

June 21st

St. Aloysisus Gonzaga

1st Reading: Gen 12:1–9:
Yahweh said to Abram, “Leave your country, your family and your father’s house, for the land I will show you. I will make you a great nation. I will bless you and make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you, I will curse, and in you all peoples of the earth will be blessed.” So Abram went as Yahweh had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. Abram took Sarai, his wife, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran.

They set out for the land of Canaan. They arrived at Canaan. Abram traveled through the country as far as Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Yahweh appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” There he built an altar to Yahweh who had appeared to him. From there he went on to the mountains east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel to the west and Ai to the east. There also he built an altar to Yahweh and called on the name of Yahweh. Then Abram set out in the direction of Negeb.

Gospel: Mt 7:1–5:
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. In the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and the measure you use for others will be used for you. Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, and not see the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Come, let me take the speck from your eye,’ as long as that plank is in your own? Hypocrite, remove the plank out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Jesus doesn’t condone faults, but to pass judgment on others without accepting one’s own faults is pharisaical. Most often our judgment of others is wrong because primarily, we cannot accurately see clearly their motives and secondly, we are hypocritical, if we don’t apply that standard to ourselves. God is the best judge for he alone sees man’s heart. People seek accolades and a pat on the back. This is the worldly way, the upward mobility. “A little praise raises my spirits, and a little success excites me. It takes very little to raise me up or thrust me down.” (Henri Nouwen)

But when others bring out our own faults, we retaliate ad hominem, (principle of retaliation). The truth is that what we dislike in others are the faults that we possess. When you point an accusing finger, there are three fingers pointing back to you. So, look at your own face in the mirror! Two men went to church. One says, “Thank you, Lord that I’m not like this man who’s ugly and poorly clothed. You know I contribute regularly to your church.” The older man prays, “Mea culpa, Lord. Forgive me. I’m the teacher of this young man.”

June 22nd

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

1st Reading: Gen 13:2, 5–18:
Now Abram was very rich in flocks, silver and gold. Lot who went with Abram also had flocks, cattle and tents. The land was not sufficient to allow them to stay together, for their possessions were too great for them to live together. A quarrel arose between the herdsmen of Abram’s flock and those of Lot. (The Canaanites and the Perizzites were living in the land at the time.) Abram said to Lot, “Don’t let there be a dispute between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and yours, since we are brothers! Isn’t the whole land there before you? Let us part company. If you go to the left, I will go to the right; if you go to the right, I will go to the left.”

Lot looked up and saw the whole valley of the Jordan: how well it was watered! Before Yahweh destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, this was like one of Yahweh’s gardens, like the country of Egypt, on coming to Zoar. Lot chose for himself all the Jordan valley and journeyed eastward. In this way they separated from each other. Abram settled in the country of Canaan while Lot lived among the towns of the plain and moved his tent as far as Sodom. Now the people of Sodom were wicked, sinning greatly against Yahweh.

Yahweh said to Abram after Lot had left him, “Raise your eyes and look from where you are, towards the north, the south, the east and the west; all the land you see I will give to you and your descendants forever. I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; if the grains of the dust can be counted, then your descendants may be counted. Come, travel through the length and breadth of the land, for it is to you that I am giving it.” So Abram moved his tent and came to live by the oaks of Mamre at Hebron. There he built an altar to Yahweh.

Gospel: Mt 7:6, 12–14:
Do not give what is holy to the dogs, or throw your pearls before pigs: they might trample on them, and then turn on you and tear you to pieces. So, do to others whatever you would that others do to you: there you have the Law and the Prophets. Enter through the narrow gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many go that way. How narrow is the gate that leads to life, and how rough the road; few there are who find it.

Jewish aberration towards unholy canines began during the times of Egyptians and Canaanites who worshipped dogs. (Rabbi Judah Elijah Schochet, Animal Life in Jewish Tradition, KTAV, 1984) Dogs and swine were Jewish derogatory terms for Gentiles. Matthew used this to signify unrepentant Christians. Probably, he copied this from a Jewish Christian community that contradicts the gospel. On February 16th 1247, a woman of Santarem, Portugal turned to a witch for help to stop her husband’s womanizing. The witch agreed, if the woman could pay her with a consecrated Host. During communion at Stephen’s, she did not consume the Host, but took it out of her mouth and placed it in her scarf.

On her way to the sorceress house, the Holy Host started to bleed and rays of light shined through. The woman’s heart started to panic. She went home and placed the Host covered in the scarf at the bottom of a chest in her room. That night the couple saw angels adoring the bleeding Host. The woman could no longer contain herself and told the great sin to her husband. The Host is still at St. Stephen’s. Sanctus res ut sanctus (holy things to the holy).

June 23rd

1st Reading: Gen 15:1-12, 17-18:
After this the word of Yahweh was spoken to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward will be very great!” Abram said, “My Lord Yahweh, where are your promises? I am still childless and all I have will go to Eliezer of Damascus. You have given me no children, so a slave of mine will be my heir.” Then the word of Yahweh was spoken to him again, “Eliezer will not be your heir, but a child born of you (your own flesh and blood) will be your heir.” Then Yahweh brought him outside and said to him, “Look up at the sky and count the stars if you can. Your descendants will be like that.”

Abram believed Yahweh who, because of this, held him to be an upright man. And he said, “I am Yahweh who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as your possession.” Then Abram asked, “My Lord, how am I to know that it shall be mine?” Yahweh replied, “Bring me a three year-old heifer, a three-year-old goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtle dove and a young pigeon.” Abram brought all these animals, cut them in two, and laid each half facing its other half, but he did not cut the birds in half.

The birds of prey came down upon them, but Abram drove them away. As the sun was going down, a deep sleep came over Abram, and a dreadful darkness took hold of him. When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot and a flaming torch passed between the halves of the victims. On that day Yahweh made a Covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I have given this country from the river of Egypt to the Great River, the Euphrates.

Gospel: Mt 7:15-20:
Beware of false prophets: they come to you in sheep‘s clothing; but inside, they are voracious wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Do you ever pick grapes from thorn bushes; or figs, from thistles? A good tree always produces good fruit. A rotten tree produces bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit; and a rotten tree cannot bear good fruit. Any tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruit.

The con artists and the tricksters are always good at self-presentation. That is why Jesus cautions us to be wary of self-proclaimed anointed of God. They come with all the trappings of holiness. Their mouth drips of pious platitudes. They can fake holy practices. But they cannot sustain these false activities that does not come from a transformed heart but from a cold calculating mind. And so, rather than looking at the external qualifications, Jesus invites us to look at the fruits. He wants us to pay attention to the result as well as the process. This means that we need to possess ascetical patience. One that withholds judgment until the consistency of words and actions, or the lack of it.

June 24th

Birth of St. John the Baptist

1st Reading: Is 49:1–6:
Listen to me, O islands, pay attention, peoples from distant lands. Yahweh called me from my mother’s womb; he pronounced my name before I was born. He made my mouth like a sharpened sword. He hid me in the shadow of his hand. He made me into a polished arrow set apart in his quiver. He said to me, “You are Israel, my servant, Through you I will be known.” “I have labored in vain,” I thought, “and spent my strength for nothing.”

Yet what is due me was in the hand of Yahweh, and my reward was with my God. I am important in the sight of Yahweh, and my God is my strength. And now Yahweh has spoken, he who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, to gather Israel to him. He said: “It is not enough that you be my servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob, to bring back the remnant of Israel. I will make you the light of the nations, that my salvation will reach to the ends of the earth.”

2nd Reading: Acts 13:22–26:
In those days, Paul said: “God raised up David as king;  of him God testified, I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish. From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus. John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel; and as John was completing his course, he would say, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’ My brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those others among you who are God-fearing, to us this word of salvation has been sent.”

Gospel: Lk 1:57–66, 80:
When the time came for Elizabeth, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the merciful Lord had done a wonderful thing for her, and they rejoiced with her. When, on the eighth day, they came to attend the circumcision of the child, they wanted to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, “Not so; he shall be called John.” They said to her, “But no one in your family has that name!” and they asked the father, by means of signs, for the name he wanted to give him.

Zechariah asked for a writing tablet, and wrote on it, “His name is John,” and they were very surprised. Immediately Zechariah could speak again, and his first words were in praise of God. A holy fear came on all in the neighborhood, and throughout the hill country of Judea the people talked about these events. All who heard of it pondered in their minds, and wondered, “What will this child be?” For they understood that the hand of the Lord was with him. As the child grew up, he was seen to be strong in the Spirit; and he lived in the desert until the day when he appeared openly in Israel.

John wore clothes made out of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist. His diet was locusts and wild honey. He was focused merely on the affairs and coming of God’s Kingdom. Although he baptized, John’s life was more than just baptizing. His adult life was characterized by selfless devotion to God’s kingdom. He was the first prophet called by God since Malachi some 400 years before his own birth and his coming was previously foretold over 700 years by Isaiah. Lots of people thought that he was the Messiah.

John told his disciples that what they had seen and heard from him is just the beginning of the miracle that is to come in the person of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. John was merely a messenger sent by God to proclaim the Way. John the Baptist could have claimed himself as the messiah, which was very tempting. But he was humbly honest. He believed that the Messiah was coming and prepared his followers for his arrival. As Christians, our faith can be tested. So we will either falter, or like John, cling to Christ and stand firm in our faith to the end.

June 25th

1st Reading: Gen 17:1, 9–10, 15–22:
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, Yahweh appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty. Walk in my presence and be without blame! God said to Abraham, “For your part, you shall keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you, generation after generation. This is my Covenant with you, that you will keep, you and your descendants after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised; God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai, your wife, no longer are you to call her Sarai, but Sarah. I will bless her, and I will give you a son by her. I will bless her and from her will come nations; kings and peoples shall come from her.”

Then Abraham fell face down, and he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? And can Sarah who is ninety have a child?” And Abraham said to God, “If only you would accept Ishmael as yours!” But God said, “Not at all! It is Sarah, your wife, who will give birth to your son and you will name him Isaac. I will establish my Covenant with him and his descendants after him forever. As for Ishmael, I heard you. I will bless him and make him fruitful, and I will multiply his race. He shall be the father of twelve princes and I will make of him a great nation. But my Covenant I will establish with Isaac, the child Sarah will have this time next year.” When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went away from him.

Gospel: Mt 8:1–4:
When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed him. Then a leper came forward. He knelt before him and said, “Sir, if you want to, you can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I want to, be clean again.” At that very moment the man was cleansed from his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you do not tell anyone, but go to the priest, have yourself declared clean, and offer the gift that Moses commanded as evidence for them.”

Persons with leprosy are barred from physical contact to avoid polluting others. They must cry out “Unclean, unclean!” to warn others of their presence. Socially, a leper is deprived of community involvement; they lived outside the city limits. Religiously, he cannot participate in religious activities, because sickness is considered a punishment for sin. Adding insult to injury, he is robbed of self-esteem. Jesus’ action in today’s Gospel is unprecedented and anti-cultural. Contact between an unclean and a clean one makes the latter equally unclean. Jesus manifested his divinity in touching the leper, for as God, no one can make him unclean.

By stretching out his hand, a miracle occurred, in the same way, by God’s power, Moses stretched out his hands and the waters parted. Above all, unlike the world’s idea of compassion that is characterized by handouts and honey coated words, Jesus showed his completely different compassion by totally immersing himself with the suffering leper. Jesus touched him, for he had been deprived of human touch. The leper had been told to show himself to the priest, not only as proof of his cure, but also to restore his self-worth as a member of the community and the synagogue.

June 26th

1st Reading: Gen 18:1-15:
The Lord appeared to Abraham by the Terebinth of Mamre, as Abraham sat in the entrance of his tent, while the day was growing hot. Looking up, he saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them; and bowing to the ground, he said: “Sir, if I may ask you this favor, please do not go on past your servant. Let some water be brought, that you may bathe your feet, and then rest yourselves under the tree. Now that you have come this close to your servant, let me bring you a little food, that you may refresh yourselves; and afterward you may go on your way.” The men replied, “Very well, do as you have said.”

Abraham hastened into the tent and told Sarah, “Quick, three measures of fine flour! Knead it and make rolls.” He ran to the herd, picked out a tender, choice steer, and gave it to a servant, who quickly prepared it. Then Abraham got some curds and milk, as well as the steer that had been prepared, and set these before them; and he waited on them under the tree while they ate. They asked him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” He replied, “There in the tent.” One of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah will then have a son.”

Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, just behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years, and Sarah had stopped having her womanly periods. So Sarah laughed to herself and said, “Now that I am so withered and my husband is so old, am I still to have sexual pleasure?” But the Lord said to Abraham: “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I really bear a child, old as I am?’ Is anything too marvelous for the LORD to do? At the appointed time, about this time next year, I will return to you, and Sarah will have a son.” Because she was afraid, Sarah dissembled, saying, “I didn’t laugh.” But he replied, “Yes you did.”

Gospel: Mt 8:5–17:
When Jesus entered Capernaum, an army captain approached him to ask his help, “Sir, my servant lies sick at home. He is paralyzed and suffers terribly.” Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” The captain answered, “I am not worthy to have you under my roof. Just give an order and my boy will be healed. For I myself, a junior officer, give orders to my soldiers. And if I say to one, ‘Go!’ he goes; and if I say to another, ‘Come!’ he comes; and if I say to my servant, ‘Do this!’ he does it.” When Jesus heard this he was astonished, and said to those who were following him, “I tell you, I have not found such faith in Israel.

I say to you, many will come from east and west and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of heaven; but the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown out into extreme darkness; there they will wail and grind their teeth.” Then Jesus said to the captain, “Go home now. As you believed, so let it be.” And at that moment his servant was healed. Jesus went to Peter’s house and found Peter’s mother-in-law in bed with fever. He took her by the hand and the fever left her; she got up and began to wait on him. Towards evening they brought to Jesus many people possessed by evil spirits, and with a word he drove out the spirits. He also healed all who were sick. In this way, what was said by the prophet Isaiah was fulfilled: He bore our infirmities and took on himself our diseases.

Jesus, in anticipation of the future mission to the Gentiles, starts here with ministry to non-Israelites. The words of the centurion have the power of a command and he attributes the same power to Jesus’ words. In return, Jesus contrasted this pagan’s “faith” in him with the lack of faith of religious authorities. He used this scenario to stress about the outsiders (Gentiles) who are now the privileged people and the insiders (the Chosen People) who deny God in Jesus. Hence, there will be at the final reckoning a wailing and grinding of teeth. There is always a tension between insiders and outsiders.

In ancient mystery religions and cults of ancient Greece and Egypt, secrets are revealed only to the insiders. The outsiders are kept in the dark. Mystery, from Greek, mystes, one who has been initiated, is associated with magic which keeps secrets away from outsiders. There are three surprises in heaven: 1) you will be surprised that the people (insiders) you expect to be in heaven are not there; 2) you will be surprised that the people (outsiders) you do not expect to be in heaven are there; 3) you will be surprised that you are there.