Bible Diary for June 23rd – June 29th

June 23rd

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

1st Reading: Jb 38:1, 8-11:
The Lord addressed Job out of the storm and said: Who shut within doors the sea, when it burst forth from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling bands? When I set limits for it and fastened the bar of its door, and said: Thus far shall you come but no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stilled!

2nd Reading: 2 Cor 5:14-17:
Brothers and sisters: The love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all; therefore, all have died. He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh; even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer. So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.

Gospel: Mk 4:35-41:
On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples: “Let us cross to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

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 24th

Birth of St. John the Baptist

1st Reading: Is 49:1-6:
Hear me, O coastlands, listen, O distant peoples. The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name. He made of me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm. He made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me. You are my servant, he said to me, Israel, through whom I show my glory. Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength, yet my reward is with the Lord, my recompense is with my God. For now the Lord has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb, that Jacob may be brought back to him and Israel gathered to him; and I am made glorious in the sight of the Lord, and my God is now my strength! It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may 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 arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.” But they answered her, “There is no one among your relatives who has this name.” So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.

He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to 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: 2 Kgs 19:9B-11, 14-21, 31-35A, 36:
Sennacherib, king of Assyria, sent envoys to Hezekiah with this message: “Thus shall you say to Hezekiah, king of Judah: ‘Do not let your God on whom you rely deceive you by saying that Jerusalem will not be handed over to the king of Assyria. You have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all other countries: they doomed them! Will you, then, be saved?’” Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; then he went up to the temple of the Lord, and spreading it out before him, he prayed in the Lord’s presence: “O Lord, God of Israel, enthroned upon the cherubim! You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made the heavens and the earth. Incline your ear, O Lord, and listen! Open your eyes, O Lord, and see! Hear the words of Sennacherib which he sent to taunt the living God.

Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, and cast their gods into the fire; they destroyed them because they were not gods, but the work of human hands, wood and stone. Therefore, O Lord, our God, save us from the power of this man, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God.” Then Isaiah, son of Amoz, sent this message to Hezekiah: “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, in answer to your prayer for help against Sennacherib, king of Assyria: I have listened! This is the word the Lord has spoken concerning him: “‘She despises you, laughs you to scorn, the virgin daughter Zion! Behind you she wags her head, daughter Jerusalem.

“‘For out of Jerusalem shall come a remnant, and from Mount Zion, survivors. The zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this.’“ Therefore, thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: ‘He shall not reach this city, nor shoot an arrow at it, nor come before it with a shield, nor cast up siege-works against it. He shall return by the same way he came, without entering the city, says the Lord. I will shield and save this city for my own sake, and for the sake of my servant David.’” That night the angel of the Lord went forth and struck down one hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. So Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, broke camp, and went back home to Nineveh.

Gospel: Mt 7:6, 12-14:
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces. Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the Law and the Prophets. Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.”

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 26th

1st Reading: 2 Kgs 22:8-13; 23:1-3:
The high priest Hilkiah informed the scribe Shaphan, “I have found the book of the law in the temple of the Lord.” Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, who read it. Then the scribe Shaphan went to the king and reported, “Your servants have smelted down the metals available in the temple and have consigned them to the master workmen in the temple of the Lord.” The scribe Shaphan also informed the king that the priest Hilkiah had given him a book, and then read it aloud to the king. When the king heard the contents of the book of the law, he tore his garments and issued this command to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, son of Shaphan, Achbor, son of Micaiah, the scribe Shaphan, and the king’s servant Asaiah: “Go, consult the Lord for me, for the people, for all Judah, about the stipulations of this book that has been found, for the anger of the Lord has been set furiously ablaze against us, because our fathers did not obey the stipulations of this book, nor fulfill our written obligations.”

The king then had all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem summoned together before him. The king went up to the temple of the Lord with all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem: priests, prophets, and all the people, small and great. He had the entire contents of the book of the covenant that had been found in the temple of the Lord, read out to them. Standing by the column, the king made a covenant before the Lord that they would follow him and observe his ordinances, statutes and decrees with their whole hearts and souls, thus reviving the terms of the covenant which were written in this book. And all the people stood as participants in the covenant.

Gospel: Mt 7:15-20:
Jesus said to his disciples: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.”

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 27th

St. Cyril of Alexandria

1st Reading: 2 Kgs 24:8-17:
Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Nehushta, daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. He did evil in the sight of the Lord, just as his forebears had done. At that time the officials of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, attacked Jerusalem, and the city came under siege. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, himself arrived at the city while his servants were besieging it. Then Jehoiachin, king of Judah, together with his mother, his ministers, officers, and functionaries, surrendered to the king of Babylon, who, in the eighth year of his reign, took him captive. And he carried off all the treasures of the temple of the Lord and those of the palace, and broke up all the gold utensils that Solomon, king of Israel, had provided in the temple of the Lord, as the Lord had foretold.

He deported all Jerusalem: all the officers and men of the army, ten thousand in number, and all the craftsmen and smiths. None were left among the people of the land except the poor. He deported Jehoiachin to Babylon, and also led captive from Jerusalem to Babylon the king’s mother and wives, his functionaries, and the chief men of the land. The king of Babylon also led captive to Babylon all seven thousand men of the army, and a thousand craftsmen and smiths, all of them trained soldiers. In place of Jehoiachin, the king of Babylon appointed his uncle Mattaniah king, and 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 only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’”

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.” When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

Jesus mentions what is the essential quality of a true disciple. He or she is not to be measured merely by he says or what he prays. It is not enough, for instance, to keep saying “Lord, Lord…“ That by itself will not bring a person to commune with God. The true disciple is someone who is totally united to God in heart, soul and mind. Such a person is one who listens to Jesus and begin to live a different lifestyle and behavior. To listen to Jesus is to live like him. It is to accept fully and integrate into one‘s being the liberating truth of his message of love and forgiveness.

To live a Christian life only on the surface is like building a house on sand. We see that happening frequently when we begin to compromise our values for the sake of our own comfort and security. We fall away very quickly because our faith is not anchored in Jesus. Our values are caught by the dominant market economy of having more and consuming more. The call is to be like that sensible person who builds his house on rock, the firm foundation that is the words and deeds of life, a life built on truth and love.

June 28th

St. Irenaeus of Lyons

1st Reading: 2 Kgs 25:1-12:
In the tenth month of the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the month, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and his whole army advanced against Jerusalem, encamped around it, and built siege walls on every side. The siege of the city continued until the eleventh year of Zedekiah. On the ninth day of the fourth month, when famine had gripped the city, and the people had no more bread, the city walls were breached. Then the king and all the soldiers left the city by night through the gate between the two walls that was near the king’s garden. Since the Chaldeans had the city surrounded, they went in the direction of the Arabah. But the Chaldean army pursued the king and overtook him in the desert near Jericho, abandoned by his whole army. The king was therefore arrested and brought to Riblah to the king of Babylon, who pronounced sentence on him.

He had Zedekiah’s sons slain before his eyes. Then he blinded Zedekiah, bound him with fetters, and had him brought to Babylon.On the seventh day of the fifth month (this was in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon), Nebuzaradan, captain of the bodyguard, came to Jerusalem as the representative of the king of Babylon. He burned the house of the Lord, the palace of the king, and all the houses of Jerusalem; every large building was destroyed by fire. Then the Chaldean troops who were with the captain of the guard tore down the walls that surrounded Jerusalem. Then Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, led into exile the last of the people remaining in the city, and those who had deserted to the king of Babylon, and the last of the artisans. But some of the country’s poor, Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, left behind as vinedressers and farmers.

Gospel: Mt 8:1-4:
When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I will do it. Be made clean.” His leprosy was cleansed immediately. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one, but go show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses prescribed; that will be proof 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 29th

Sts. Peter and Paul

1st Reading: Acts 3:1-10:
Peter and John were going up to the temple area for the three o’clock hour of prayer. And a man crippled from birth was carried and placed at the gate of the temple called “the Beautiful Gate” every day to beg for alms from the people who entered the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms. But Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” He paid attention to them, expecting to receive something from them. Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk.”

Then Peter took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles grew strong. He leaped up, stood, and walked around, and went into the temple with them, walking and jumping and praising God. When all the people saw the man walking and praising God, they recognized him as the one who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, and they were filled with amazement and astonishment at what had happened to him.

2nd Reading: Gal 1:11-20:
I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the Gospel preached by me is not of human origin. For I did not receive it from a human being, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how I persecuted the Church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it, and progressed in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my race, since I was even more a zealot for my ancestral traditions.

But when God, who from my mother’s womb had set me apart and called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him to the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were Apostles before me; rather, I went into Arabia and then returned to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to confer with Cephas and remained with him for fifteen days. But I did not see any other of the Apostles, only James the brother of the Lord. –As to what I am writing to you, behold, before God, I am not lying.

Gospel: Jn 21:15-19:
Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and, when they had finished breakfast, said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He then said to Simon Peter a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

Moral injury, very much related to PTSD, occurs when one transgresses the basic moral beliefs and expectations. Peter failed miserably from what was expected of him. Jesus, as a psychiatrist par excellence, did not blame Peter. Instead, he debriefed Peter. Debriefing follows an experience to determine what went wrong. Part of this process is to relive the event, to sit in Cinderella, “little ashes” for purification, like what Native Indians do in smudging ritual. One has to go through “the ashes” of charcoal fire and be debriefed for healing. Peter had failed the first time he went by the charcoal fire.

While warming himself by the charcoal fire, he denied Jesus three times. Through this second “charcoal fire,” Jesus wanted to be sure that Peter would not fail, if he has an ardent Love. Again, the questions about Peter’s love were covertly asked three times. Suffering is not a punishment, as it was conceived in antiquity. Job suffered to manifest his righteousness. Suffering is corrective like debriefing. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is imperative to go through the cause of suffering no matter if it is painful, otherwise the sufferer will perpetually live in the past.