Bible Diary for June 28th – July 4th

June 28th

13th Sunday of Ordinary Time
St. Irenaeus of Lyons

1st Reading: 2 Kgs 4:8-11, 14-16a:
One day Elisha went to Shunem, and a rich woman invited him to eat. Afterward, whenever he went to that town, he would go to her house to eat. The woman said to her husband, “See, this man who constantly passes by our house is a holy man of God. If you want, we can make a small upper room for him, and place a bed, a table, a chair and a lamp in it. So when he comes, he may stay and rest.” One day when Elisha came, he went to the upper room and lay down.

So Elisha said to Gehazi, “What can we do for her?” The young man answered, “She has no children and her husband is now old.” And so Elisha said to him, “Call her.” The young man called her; and as the woman stood by the door, Elisha said, “By this time next year, you will hold a son in your arms.” She answered, “No, my lord, O man of God, you are deceiving your maid servant.”

2nd Reading: Rom 6:3-4, 8-11:
Don’t you know, that in baptism, which unites us to Christ, we are all baptized and plunged into his death? By this baptism in his death, we were buried with Christ and, as Christ was raised from among the dead by the glory of the Father, we begin walking in a new life. But, if we have died with Christ, we believe we will also live with him. We know, that Christ, once risen from the dead, will not die again, and death has no more dominion over him. For, by dying, he is dead to sin, once and for all, and, now, the life that he lives, is life with God. So you, too, must consider yourselves dead to sin, and alive to God, in Christ Jesus.

Gospel: Mt 10:37-42:
Whoever loves father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me. And whoever loves son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take up his cross and follow me, is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life, for my sake, will find it.

“Whoever welcomes you, welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me, welcomes him who sent me. The one who welcomes a prophet, as a prophet, will receive the reward of a prophet; the one who welcomes a just man, because he is a just man, will receive the reward of a just man. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones, because he is my disciple, I assure you, he will not go unrewarded.“

The worldly wisdom tells us to be cautious about giving and giving up: “A bird in hand is worth two in the bush,” it advices. But the Gospel invitation goes against the worldly grain. For the Gospel encourages us to give up what we have now to find what God has in store for us. It requires courage and faith. Do I dare? Lord, give me the courage to love you beyond everything and to give up everything for the sheer gift of having you. Share some of your resource with someone in need, in the name of God.

June 29th

Feasts of Sts. Peter and Paul

1st Reading: Acts 12:1–10:
About that time King Herod decided to persecute some members of the Church. He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword, and when he saw how it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This happened during the festival of the Unleavened Bread. Herod had him seized and thrown into prison with four squads, each of four soldiers, to guard him.

He wanted to bring him to trial before the people after the Passover feast, but while Peter was kept in prison, the whole Church prayed earnestly for him. On the very night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound by a double chain, while guards kept watch at the gate of the prison. Suddenly an angel of the Lord stood there and a light shone in the prison cell.

The angel tapped Peter on the side and woke him saying, “Get up quickly!” At once the chains fell from Peter’s wrists. The angel said, “Put on your belt and your sandals.” Peter did so, and the angel added, “Now, put on your cloak and follow me.” Peter followed him out; yet he did not realize that what was happening with the angel was real; he thought he was seeing a vision.

They passed the first guard and then the second and they came to the iron door leading out to the city, which opened of itself for them. They went out and made their way down a narrow alley, when 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 Tim 4:6–8, 17–18:
As for me, I am already poured out as a libation, and the moment of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness with which the Lord, the just judge, will reward me on that day; and not only me, but all those who have longed for his glorious coming. But the Lord was at my side, giving me strength to proclaim the Word fully, and let all the pagans hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will save me from all evil, bringing me to his heavenly kingdom. Glory to him for ever and ever. Amen!

Gospel: Mt 16:13–19:
Jesus came to Caesarea Philippi. He asked his disciples, “What do people say of the Son of Man? Who do they say I am?” They said, “For some of them you are John the Baptist, for others Elijah or Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Jesus asked them, “But you, who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus replied, “It is well for you, Simon Barjona, for it is not flesh or blood that has revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. And now I say to you: You are Peter (or Rock) and on this rock I will build my Church; and never will the powers of death overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and what you unbind on earth shall be unbound 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.

June 30th

First Martyrs of the Roman Church

1st Reading: Am 3:1–8; 4:11–12:
Hear this word which Yahweh speaks against you, people of Israel, against the whole family which he brought up from the land of Egypt.

“Only you have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will call you to account for all your wrongdoings. Do two walk together unless they have agreed? Does a lion roar in the forest when it has no prey? Does a young lion growl in its den unless it has seized something? Does a bird get caught in a snare if the snare has not been baited? Does a tiger spring up from the ground unless it has caught something? If a trumpet sounds in a city, will the people not be frightened? If disaster strikes a city, has not Yahweh caused it? Yet Yahweh does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants, the prophets. If the lion roars, who will not be afraid? If Yahweh speaks, who will not prophesy? I overthrew you, a divine punishment, as happened to Sodom and Gomorrah; you were like a brand snatched from the blaze, yet you never returned to me,” says Yahweh.

“Therefore, I will deal with you in my own way, Israel, and since I will do this to you, prepare, Israel, to meet your God!”

Gospel: Mt 8:23–27:
Jesus got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a fierce storm burst upon the lake, with waves sweeping the boat. But Jesus was asleep. The disciples woke him up and cried, “Lord save us! We are lost!” But Jesus answered, “Why are you so afraid, you of little faith?” Then he stood up and rebuked the wind and sea; and it became completely calm. The disciples were astonished. They said, “What kind of man is he? Even the winds and the sea obey him.”

There are people so centered that they can wade through storms and turbulence without being ruffled. Jesus slept through the storm while His disciples struggled mightily against it. In the end they had to call on the Lord for help. He got up, rebuked the elements, and peace and calm was restored. His inner calmness and peace irradiates outside Him and affects a change in the environment around Him.

July 1st

St. Junipero Serra

1st Reading: Am 5:14–15, 21–24:
Seek good and shun evil, that you may live. Then Yahweh, the God of hosts, as you have claimed, will be with you. Hate wickedness and love virtue, and let justice prevail in the courts; perhaps Yahweh, the God of hosts, will take pity on the remnant of Joseph. “I hate, I reject your feasts, I take no pleasure when you assemble to offer me your burnt offerings. Your cereal offerings, I will not accept! Your offerings of fattened beasts, I will not look upon! Away with the noise of your chanting, away with your strumming on harps. But let justice run its course like water, and righteousness be like an everflowing river.

Gospel: Mt 8:28–34:
When Jesus reached Gadara, on the other side, he was met by two men, possessed by devils, who came out from the tombs. They were so fierce that no one dared to pass that way. They cried out, “Son of God, leave us alone! Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Some distance away there was a large herd of pigs feeding. So the demons begged him, “If you drive us out, send us into that herd of pigs.”

Jesus ordered them, “Go!” So the demons left the men and went into the pigs. The whole herd rushed down the cliff into the lake and was drowned. The men in charge of the pigs ran off to the town, where they told the whole story; and also what had happened to the men possessed with the demons. The whole town went out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.

When things are not in their proper places, there is chaos. The demons have no claim to the two persons they possess. That is why they are fierce. They have to fight tooth and nail over that which they had taken illegally and by force. But they meet the Lord who puts right the things out of their places. In a desperate last pleading since the Lord is stronger than them, they ask to be sent into a herd of pigs.

These are unclean animals according to the Jewish law. When possessed, the pigs in turn rush to the sea which is the mythical abode of Leviathan, the ancient monster that represents loss of order. And thus everything is once again in their rightful place. The two demoniacs are back to sanity and the evil ones to their home. Order is restored except for the townspeople who are comfortable where they are.

July 2nd

1st Reading: Am 7:10–17:
Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, then sent word to King Jeroboam of Israel, “Amos is conspiring against you in the very center of Israel; what he says goes too far. These are his very words: Jeroboam shall die by the sword and Israel shall be exiled from its land.” Amaziah then said to Amos, “Off with you, seer, go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there by prophesying. But never again prophesy at Bethel for it is a king’s sanctuary and a national shrine.”

Amos replied to Amaziah, “I am not a prophet or one of the fellow prophets. I am a breeder of sheep and a dresser of sycamore trees. But Yahweh took me from shepherding the flock and said to me: Go, prophesy to my people Israel. Now hear the word of Yahweh, you who say: No more prophecy against Israel, no more insults against the family of Isaac! This is what Yahweh says: Your wife shall be made a harlot in the city, your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword, your land shall be divided up and given to others, and you yourself shall die in a foreign land, for Israel shall be driven far from its land.”

Gospel: Mt 9:1–8:
Jesus got back into the boat, crossed the lake again, and came to his hometown. Here they brought a paralyzed man to him, lying on a bed. Jesus saw their faith and said to the paralytic, “Courage, my son! Your sins are forgiven.” Then some teachers of the Law said to themselves, “This man insults God.” Jesus was aware of what they were thinking, and said, “Why have you such evil thoughts? Which is easier to say: ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? You must know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”

He then said to the paralyzed man, “Stand up! Take your stretcher and go home.” The man got up, and went home. When the crowds saw this, they were filled with awe and praised God for giving such power to human beings.

Without the help of others some of us simply cannot do what the rest of us take for granted. Jesus expects for us to take care of one another so that none of us ever despair of his love.

July 3rd

St. Thomas the Apostle

1st Reading: Eph 2:19–22:
Now, you are no longer strangers or guests, but fellow citizens of the holy people: you are of the household of God. You are the house, whose foundations are the apostles and prophets, and whose cornerstone is Christ Jesus. In him, the whole structure is joined together, and rises, to be a holy temple, in the Lord. In him, you, too, are being built, to become the spiritual Sanctuary of God.

Gospel: Jn 20:24–29:
Thomas, the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he replied, “Until I have seen in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” Eight days later, the disciples were again inside the house and Thomas was with them.

Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; stretch out your hand, and put it into my side. Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe!” Thomas said, “You are my Lord and my God.” Jesus replied, “You believe because you see me, don’t you? Happy are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

Today we celebrate the feast of Thomas commonly called the “Doubter.” Thanks to him, healthy skepticism becomes part of our spiritual quest for truth. What is remarkable with Thomas is the fact that when he was confronted by the Risen Lord, he let go of his doubts and believed. He was humble enough to accept that he erred. Intellectual honesty demands that we question with the right intention and believe when confronted with the right reason. Doubting is not an ideology to be defended but an instrument to get into the truth with conviction.

July 4th

St. Elizabeth of Portugal

1st Reading: Am 9:11–15:
“On that day I shall restore the fallen hut of David and wall up its breaches and raise its ruined walls and so build it as in days of old. “They shall conquer the remnant of Edom and the neighboring nations upon which my name has been called.” Thus says Yahweh, the one who will do this.  

Yahweh says also, “The days are coming when the plowman will overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes overtake the sower. The mountains shall drip sweet wine and all the hills shall melt. I shall bring back the exiles of my people Israel; they will rebuild the desolate cities and dwell in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will have orchards and eat their fruit.  I shall plant them in their own country and they shall never again be rooted up from the land which I have given them,” says Yahweh your God.

Gospel: Mt 9:14–17:
The disciples of John came to him with the question, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast on many occasions, but not your disciples?” Jesus answered them, “How can you expect wedding guests to mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? Time will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, then they will fast. “No one patches an old coat with a piece of unshrunken cloth, for the patch will shrink and tear an even bigger hole in the coat. Besides you don’t put new wine in old wineskins. If you do, the wineskins will burst and the wine be spilt. No, you put new wine in fresh skins; then both are preserved.”

Just as fresh wine requires new wineskins, so does the Good News of Jesus require the right kind of vessels. Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are remade. We are, in fact, reborn so as to be made capable of containing the fullness of grace that God intends for us. May we always be conscious of the great gift that God gives to us through baptism, the sacrament that remits original sin and configures us to the Lord Jesus, thus giving us access to the “new wine” of the Kingdom of God.