Bible Diary for June 25th – July 1st
12th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary
1st Reading: Jer 20:10-13:
Jeremiah said: “I hear the whisperings of many: ‘Terror on every side! Denounce! let us denounce him!’ All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine. ‘Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail, and take our vengeance on him.’ But the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph. In their failure they will be put to utter shame, to lasting, unforgettable confusion. O Lord of hosts, you who test the just, who probe mind and heart, let me witness the vengeance you take on them, for to you I have entrusted my cause. Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord, for he has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked!”
2nd Reading: Rom 5:12-15:
Brothers and sisters: Through one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned— for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world, though sin is not accounted when there is no law. But death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin after the pattern of the trespass of Adam, who is the type of the one who was to come. But the gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many.
Gospel: Mt 10:26-33:
Jesus said to the Twelve: “Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.”
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.
1st Reading: Gn 12:1-9:
The Lord said to Abram: “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you. “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you.” Abram went as the Lord directed him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. Abram took his wife, Sarai, his brother’s son Lot, all the possessions that they had accumulated, and the persons they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan.
When they came to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land as far as the sacred place at Shechem, by the terebinth of Moreh. (The Canaanites were then in the land.) The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So Abram built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him. From there he moved on to the hill country east of Bethel, pitching his tent with Bethel to the west and Ai to the east. He built an altar there to the Lord and invoked the Lord by name. Then Abram journeyed on by stages to the Negeb.
Gospel: Mt 7:1-5:
Jesus said to his disciples: “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from 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.
St. Cyril of Alexandria
1st Reading: Gn 13:2, 5-18:
Abram was very rich in livestock, silver, and gold. Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, so that the land could not support them if they stayed together; their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together. There were quarrels between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and those of Lot’s. (At this time the Canaanites and the Perizzites were occupying the land.) So Abram said to Lot: “Let there be no strife between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole land at your disposal? Please separate from me. If you prefer the left, I will go to the right; if you prefer the right, I will go to the left.”
Lot looked about and saw how well watered the whole Jordan Plain was as far as Zoar, like the Lord’s own garden, or like Egypt. (This was before the Lord had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) Lot, therefore, chose for himself the whole Jordan Plain and set out eastward. Thus they separated from each other; Abram stayed in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the Plain, pitching his tents near Sodom. Now the inhabitants of Sodom were very wicked in the sins they committed against the Lord.
After Lot had left, the Lord said to Abram: “Look about you, and from where you are, gaze to the north and south, east and west; all the land that you see I will give to you and your descendants forever. I will make your descendants like the dust of the earth; if anyone could count the dust of the earth, your descendants too might be counted. Set forth and walk about in the land, through its length and breadth, for to you I will give it.” Abram moved his tents and went on to settle near the terebinth of Mamre, which is at Hebron. There he built an altar to the LORD.
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.”
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.
St. Irenaeus of Lyons
1st Reading: Gn 15:1-12, 17-18:
The word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram! I am your shield; I will make your reward very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord God, what good will your gifts be, if I keep on being childless and have as my heir the steward of my house, Eliezer?” Abram continued, “See, you have given me no offspring, and so one of my servants will be my heir.” Then the word of the Lord came to him: “No, that one shall not be your heir; your own issue shall be your heir.” He took him outside and said: “Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can. Just so,” he added, “shall your descendants be.” Abram put his faith in the Lord, who credited it to him as an act of righteousness. He then said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as a possession.”
“O Lord God,” he asked, “how am I to know that I shall possess it?” He answered him, “Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old she-goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Abram brought him all these, split them in two, and placed each half opposite the other; but the birds he did not cut up. Birds of prey swooped down on the carcasses, but Abram stayed with them. As the sun was about to set, a trance fell upon Abram, and a deep, terrifying darkness enveloped him. When the sun had set and it was dark, there appeared a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch, which passed between those pieces. It was on that occasion that the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River the Euphrates.”
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.
Sts. Peter and Paul
1st Reading: Acts 12:1-11:
In those days, King Herod laid hands upon some members of the Church to harm them. He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword, and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also. –It was the feast of Unleavened Bread.– He had him taken into custody and put in prison under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. He intended to bring him before the people after Passover. Peter thus was being kept in prison, but prayer by the Church was fervently being made to God on his behalf.
On the very night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter, secured by double chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while outside the door guards kept watch on the prison. Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and awakened him, saying, “Get up quickly.” The chains fell from his wrists. The angel said to him, “Put on your belt and your sandals.” He did so. Then he said to him, “Put on your cloak and follow me.”
So he followed him out, not realizing that what was happening through the angel was real; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first guard, then the second, and came to the iron gate leading out to the city, which opened for them by itself. They emerged and made their way down an alley, and suddenly the angel left him. Then Peter recovered his senses and said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people had been expecting.”
2nd Reading: 2 Tm 4:6-8, 17-18:
I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance. The Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly Kingdom. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Gospel: Mt 16:13-19:
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Saints Peter and Paul each played a unique part in setting the foundations of the Church as we know it today. The all-too-human Peter ensured Christianity’s roots were anchored firmly in Jewish Old Testament tradition. Peter, as leader of the apostles, was chosen by Jesus to have a special relationship with him. He was sent with John to prepare for the last Passover before Jesus’ death. Quite rightly, his name is first on every list of apostles. His choice as the rock, upon which Christ would build the Church, established a fresh tradition that has extended down through history to the present Pope.
Paul’s experience of the risen Christ on the road to Damascus ensured that the Church would be extended to the gentiles worldwide, as Christ had commanded. Paul’s central conviction was simple and absolute: only Christ can save humanity. No human effort, not even the most scrupulous observance of law, can create a state of human goodness, which we can bring to God as reparation for sin and payment for grace. To be saved from itself, to be saved from sin, from the devil and from death, humanity must open itself completely to the saving power of Christ.
First Martyrs of the Roman Church
1st Reading: Gn 17:1, 9-10, 15-22:
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said: “I am God the Almighty. Walk in my presence and be blameless.” God also said to Abraham: “On your part, you and your descendants after you must keep my covenant throughout the ages. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you that you must keep: every male among you shall be circumcised.” God further said to Abraham: “As for your wife Sarai, do not call her Sarai; her name shall be Sarah. I will bless her, and I will give you a son by her. Him also will I bless; he shall give rise to nations, and rulers of peoples shall issue from him.”
Abraham prostrated himself and laughed as he said to himself, “Can a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Or can Sarah give birth at ninety?” Then Abraham said to God, “Let but Ishmael live on by your favor!” God replied: “Nevertheless, your wife Sarah is to bear you a son, and you shall call him Isaac. I will maintain my covenant with him as an everlasting pact, to be his God and the God of his descendants after him. As for Ishmael, I am heeding you: I hereby bless him. I will make him fertile and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of twelve chieftains, and I will make of him a great nation. But my covenant I will maintain with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you by this time next year.” When he had finished speaking with him, God departed from Abraham.
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.”
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.
St. Junipero Serra
1st Reading: Gn 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, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven, but the children of the Kingdom will be driven out into the outer darkness, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”
And Jesus said to the centurion, “You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.” And at that very hour his servant was healed. Jesus entered the house of Peter, and saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand, the fever left her, and she rose and waited on him. When it was evening, they brought him many who were possessed by demons, and he drove out the spirits by a word and cured all the sick, to fulfill what had been said by Isaiah the prophet: He took away our infirmities and bore 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.