Bible Diary for June 21st – 27th

June 21st

St. Aloysius Gonzaga

1st Reading: Jer 20:10-13:
I hear many people whispering, “Terror is all around! Denounce him! Yes, denounce him!” All my friends watch me to see if I will slip: “Perhaps he can be deceived,” they say; “then we can get the better of him and have our revenge.” But Yahweh, a mighty warrior, is with me. My persecutors will stumble and not prevail; that failure will be their shame and their disgrace will never be forgotten. Yahweh, God of Hosts, you test the just and probe the heart and mind. Let me see your revenge on them, for to you I have entrusted my cause. Sing to Yahweh! Praise Yahweh and say: he has rescued the poor from the clutches of the wicked!

2nd Reading: Rom 5:12-15:
Therefore, sin entered the world through one man; and through sin, death; and later on, death spread to all humankind, because all sinned.  As long as there was no law, they could not speak of disobedience, but sin was already in the world. This is why, from Adam to Moses, death reigned among them, although their sin was not disobedience, as in Adam’s case—this was not the true Adam, but foretold the other, who was to come. Such has been the fall, but God’s gift goes far beyond. All died, because of the fault of one man, but how much more does the grace of God spread, when the gift he granted, reaches all, from this unique man, Jesus Christ.

Gospel: Mt 10:26-33:
There is nothing covered that will not be uncovered. There is nothing hidden that will not be made known. What I am telling you in the dark, you must speak in the light. What you hear in private, proclaim from the housetops. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but have no power to kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of him who can destroy both body and soul in hell.

For a few cents you can buy two sparrows. Yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father knowing. As for you, every hair of your head has been counted. Do not be afraid: you are worth more than many sparrows! Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven. Whoever rejects me before others, I will reject before my Father in heaven.

There may be times our life seems drowned in physical, psychological, and spiritual suffering. We may feel betrayed, rejected, abandoned, and persecuted. Our very life may seem like a burden too great to bear. But those are the very times we must trust in the goodness of the Lord and his promises. We have been redeemed by no less than the blood of Jesus Christ and therefore, for God, we are far more precious than anything else in creation.

June 22nd

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

1st Reading: 2 K 17:5–8, 13–15a, 18:
The army of the king of Asshur subjected the whole of Israel, coming to Samaria and laying siege to it for three years. In the ninth year of the reign of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria, exiled the Israelites to Asshur and made them settle in Halah, at the banks of Habor, the river of Gozan, as well as in the cities of the Medes. This happened because the children of Israel had sinned against Yahweh, their God, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, where they were subject to Pharaoh. But they had turned back to other gods. They followed the customs of the nations which Yahweh had driven out before them.

Yahweh warned Israel and Judah through the mouth of every prophet and seer, saying: “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and precepts according to the laws which I commanded your fathers and which I have sent to you by my servants, the prophets.” But they did not listen and refused, as did their fathers, who did not believe in Yahweh, their God. They despised his statutes and the Covenant he had made with their fathers, and the warnings he had given them. They went after worthless idols and they themselves became worthless, following the nations which surrounded them, in spite of what Yahweh had said, “Do not do as they do.” So Yahweh became indignant with Israel and cast them far away from his presence, leaving only the tribe of Judah.

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.

The best teachers and guides are those with experience. It is something that can never be taught. It can only be acquired in time. So Jesus cautions us against playing teacher and guide before our time comes. We might worsen our brother’s or our sister’s condition by our naive advice. This is true especially in the area of spirituality. It takes years to have some understanding on how the Spirit works.

Usually we find out through our own spiritual journey. The learning and insights do help a lot to equip us to help others navigate our own spiritual journeys. But until then, when we have not yet settled our own, we remain students like the rest at the feet of the Master. We do not play judge, teacher nor guide but are co-journeyers with others.

June 23rd

1st Reading: 2 K 19:9b–11, 14–21, 31–35a, 36:
This was because King Sennacherib had heard that Tirhakah, the Cushite king of Egypt, was going out to fight him. Again Sennacherib sent messengers to Hezekiah with these words, “Say to Hezekiah, king of Judah that his God in whom he trusts may be deceiving him in saying that Jerusalem will not be given into the hands of the king of Assyria. Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the lands they have destroyed! And will you be spared?”

Hezekiah took the letter from the messengers, and when he had read it he went to the house of Yahweh where he unrolled the letter and prayed saying, “O Yahweh, God of hosts and God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim! You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made the heavens and the earth. Give ear, Yahweh, and hear! Open your eyes and see! Listen to all the words of Sennacherib who has sent men to insult the living God! It is true, Yahweh, that the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the countries of the earth. They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not true gods but gods made of wood and stone by human hands. Now, O Yahweh our God, save us from his hand and let all the kingdoms of the earth know that you alone, Yahweh, are God.”

Then Isaiah, son of Amoz, sent word to Hezekiah: “You have called upon Yahweh and he has heard your prayer regarding Sennacherib, king of Assyria. This is what Yahweh has spoken against him: The Virgin Daughter of Zion despises and scorns you; the Daughter of Jerusalem shakes her head behind you. For a remnant will come from Jerusalem and survivors from Mount Zion. The zeal of Yahweh of hosts will accomplish this. That is why Yahweh has said this concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not enter this city nor shoot his arrows. He shall not raise a shield to oppose it nor build a siege ramp against it. He shall leave by the way he came and he shall not enter the city, word of Yahweh. I will protect this city and so save it for my own sake and for the sake of David, my servant.”

It happened that the angel of Yahweh went out that night and struck one hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people rose early next morning there were all the corpses. So Sennacherib, king of Assyria, departed, returned home and lived in Nineveh.

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.

Any gift given in order to be relished and honored needs a proper receiver. That is why Jesus cautions us not to give anything that we hold dear and sacred to those that will neither appreciate it, nor honor it for lack of capacity to do so. They are not ready for the gift. They do not feel the need to have it. It is a foolish expenditure of effort that could have been otherwise used to a much better endeavor.

Also, love begets love. Reciprocity means that we receive back what we invest in others. Although this is not always the case, still it is better to err on the side of love. And this capacity to hope for the best but not tied up to the response of others when we do good needs a disciplined and tempered heart. One that has navigated the narrow gate that leads to life. It has its own share of wounds. Yet it realized that always, love is the better option. It is a power that is never diminished in space and time.

June 24th

Birth of St. John the Baptist

1st Reading: Is 49:1–6:
Listen to me, O islands, pay attention, people 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:
After that time, God removed him and raised up David as king, to whom he bore witness saying: I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, who will do all I want him to do. It is from the descendants of David that God has now raised up the promised Savior of Israel, Jesus. Before he appeared, John proclaimed a baptism of repentance for all the people of Israel. As John was ending his life’s work, he said: “I am not what you think I am, for, after me, another one is coming, whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” Brothers, children and descendants of Abraham, and you, also, who fear God, it is to you that this message 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 made signs to his father 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.

We recall today the birth of a miracle child. His birth has been a product of conspiracy from heaven. It was so humanly impossible that not even his own father believed at first. But here today we celebrate his birth. God is generous to his parents for his coming took away their shame. His mother, who was thought barren, had now produced a child. Not just any ordinary child but someone whom no one born of a woman could surpass in greatness. He deserved his name. For through him, God has been generous also to the rest of humanity. John’s birth assured us that the Messiah is coming hot on his heels. John, who is God’s generosity to the world, is a sign that God has irrevocably committed Himself to humanity.

June 25th

1st Reading: 2 K 24:8–17:
Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he succeeded his father, and he reigned for three months in Jerusalem. His mother was Nehushta, daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. Jehoiachin treated Yahweh badly, as his father had done. At that time, the officials of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came to attack Jerusalem, surrounding the city. Nebuchadnezzar came while the city was being besieged by his men. Jehoiachin, king of Judah, surrendered together with his mother, his servants, his leaders and the palace officials. It was the eighth year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar captured them and he took away the treasures of the House of Yahweh and of the king’s house. He also destroyed all the objects of gold which Solomon, king of Israel, had made for the sanctuary of Yahweh.

So the word Yahweh had spoken, was fulfilled. Nebuchadnezzar carried off into exile all the leaders and prominent men, the blacksmiths and lock-smiths, all the men of valor fit for war. A total of ten thousand were exiled to Babylon. Only the poorest sector of the population was left. Nebuchaddnezzar also carried away Jehoiachin, with his mother, his wives, the ministers of the palace, and the prominent men of the land. So all the prominent people, numbering seven thousand, the blacksmiths, numbering a thousand, and all the men fit for war were deported to Babylon by the king of Babylon. He made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king of Jerusalem, in place of Jehoiachin. And he changed his name to Zedekiah.

Gospel: Mt 7:21–29:
Jesus said to his disciples, “Not everyone who says to me: Lord! Lord! will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my heavenly Father. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not speak in your name? Did we not cast out devils and perform many miracles in your name?’ Then I will tell them openly: I have never known you; away from me, you evil people!’ So, then, anyone who hears these words of mine and acts accordingly is like a wise man, who built his house on rock. The rain poured, the rivers flooded, and the wind blew and struck that house, but it did not collapse because it was built on rock. But anyone who hears these words of mine and does not act accordingly, is like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain poured, the rivers flooded, and the wind blew and struck that house; it collapsed, and what a terrible fall that was!”

When Jesus had finished this discourse, the crowds were struck by the way he taught, because he taught with authority unlike their teachers of the Law.

The firm foundation of faith, hope, and love is one upon which a person can build a life of virtue and holiness. In spite of what the world might say, the good life is measured by integrity, justice, and a right relationship with God. The good life is not spared the proverbial rains, floods and winds. But the strengths of its foundations in the teachings of the Lord will allow it to endure to the end. A wise man once said, “Tough times never last, but tough people do.” May we find our strength in the Lord, whose promises are always fulfilled.

June 26th

1st Reading: 2 K 25:1–12:
In the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched with his entire army and laid siege to Jerusalem. They camped outside the city and built siege works all around it. The city was under siege up to the eleventh year of Zedekiah. On the ninth day of the fourth month famine became a serious problem in the city, and throughout the land there was no bread for the people.

When the city was opened by a breach in the wall, the Judean army fled through the gate between the two walls near the king’s garden while the Chaldeans were still around the city and they fled towards the Arabah. The Chaldeans followed in  hot pursuit of King Zedekiah and caught up with him in the plains of Jericho. All his army deserted and scattered. The Chaldeans seized the king and led him away to Riblah in the territory of Hamath and there the king of Babylon passed sentence on him.

There at Riblah the king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah in his presence. He then put out the eyes of Zedekiah, bound him with a double bronze chain and took him to Babylon. On the seventh day of the fifth month in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan, commander of the bodyguard and servant of the king of Babylon, entered Jerusalem and set fire to the House of Yahweh and the royal palace as well as to all the houses in Jerusalem.

The Chaldean army under the commander of the bodyguard completely demolished all the walls around Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan, commander of the bodyguard, carried off into exile the last of the Jews left in the city, those who had deserted to the king of Babylon and the remainder of the artisans. But he left those among the very poor who were capable of working in vineyards and cultivating the soil.

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.”

What made the prayer of the leper effective? When you reread the gospel you will realize that his prayer is really an act of faith. First, the leper came forward, a frightening thing to do. To expose yourself to the group and express your need takes courage. Second, he knelt in front of Jesus acknowledging His Lordship and accepting that he, the suppliant is the petitioner. He makes his case with a humble stance. Fourth, he left it to Jesus to make a decision. “If you want to, you can make me clean…”

There is no doubt as to what Jesus wants for us. It is always about what is good for us. Hence allowing Him to do things that are best for us is to show a deep confidence in His benevolent and loving will, and a deep faith in His being Lord and savior. The humble faith filled action of the leper is reminder for us that Jesus always want what is good for us, and He delighted in giving that good.

June 27th

St. Cyril of Alexandria

1st Reading: Lam 2:2, 10–14, 18–19:
Without pity Yahweh has shattered in Jacob every dwelling. He has torn down in his anger the ramparts of Judah’s daughter. He has thrown her rulers and her king to the ground, dishonored. The elders of the daughter of Zion sit in silence upon the ground, their heads sprinkled with dust, their bodies wrapped in sackcloth, while Jerusalem’s young women bow their heads to the ground. With weeping my eyes are spent; my soul is in torment because of the downfall of the daughter of my people, because children and infants faint in the open spaces of the town.

To their mothers they say, “Where is the bread and wine?” as they faint like wounded men in the streets and public squares, as their lives ebb away in their mothers’ arms. To what can I compare you, O daughter of Jerusalem? Who can save or comfort you, O virgin daughter of Zion? Deep as the sea is your affliction, and who can possibly heal you? Your prophets’ visions were worthless and false. Had they warned of your sins, your fate might have been averted. But what they gave you instead were false, misleading signs.

Cry out to the Lord, O wall of the daughter of Zion! Oh, let your tears flow day and night, like a river. Give yourself no relief; grant your eyes no respite. Get up, cry out in the night, as the evening watches start; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint with hunger at the corner of every street.

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. Toward 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.

The impassioned plea of the Roman officer has become the prayer that we say before receiving Holy Communion. No earthly food can truly satisfy our hunger, no earthly drink can quench our thirst. Only the Holy Eucharist can fill the void that is within us, for only the Lord Jesus can heal the soul. The servant of that man of great faith was healed by the word given by Jesus. We rightly place our trust in His Holy Word that is given to us through the scriptures and the breaking of the bread, the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.