Bible Diary for June 6th – 12th

June 6th

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
St. Norbert

1st Reading: Ex 24:3-8:
Moses came and told the people all the words of Yahweh and all his laws. The people replied with one voice: “Everything that Yahweh has said, we shall do.” Moses wrote down all the words of Yahweh, then rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve raised stones for the twelve tribes of Israel. He then sent young men from among the sons of Israel to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice bullocks as peace offerings to Yahweh.

And Moses took half the blood and put it in basins; and with the other half of the blood he sprinkled the altar. He then took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. They said, “All that Yahweh said we shall do and obey.” Moses then took the blood and sprinkled it on the people saying, “Here is the blood of the Covenant that Yahweh has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

2nd Reading: Heb 9:11-15:
But now Christ has appeared as the high priest with regard to the good things of these new times. He passed through a Sanctuary more noble and perfect, not made by hands, that is, not created. He did not take with himself the blood of goats and bulls but his own blood, when he entered once and for all into this Sanctuary after obtaining definitive redemption. If the sprinkling of people defiled by sin with the blood of goats and bulls or with the ashes of a heifer provides them with exterior cleanness and holiness, how much more will it be with the blood of Christ?

He, moved by the eternal Spirit, offered himself as an unblemished victim to God and his blood cleanses us from dead works, so that we may serve the living God. So Christ is the mediator of a new Covenant or testament. His death made atonement for the sins committed under the old testament, and the promise is handed over to all who are called to the everlasting inheritance.

Gospel: Mk 14:12-16, 22-26:
On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the day when the Passover Lamb was killed, the disciples asked him, “Where would you have us go to prepare the Passover meal for you?” So Jesus sent two of his disciples with these instructions, “Go into the city, and there a man will come to you carrying a jar of water. Follow him to the house he enters and say to the owner, ‘The Master says, Where is the room where I may eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ Then he will show you a large room upstairs, already arranged and furnished. There you will prepare for us.”

The disciples went off. When they reached the city, they found everything just as Jesus had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal. While they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to them. And he said, “Take this, it is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after he had given thanks, he passed it to them and they all drank from it. And he said, “This is my blood, the blood of the Covenant, poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not taste the fruit of the vine again, until that day when I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God.” After singing psalms of praise, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

God took us out from our sinfulness, blessed us with a new birth in baptism and broke us to be open with our vulnerabilities and in truly following his commandment of love so that we may be able to share in giving witness to the everlasting love he has offered for all of us. How do we truly understand the Eucharist that Christ has established for us? Are we truly nurtured by the Holy Eucharist to follow Christ every day of our lives?

Lord Jesus in the Eucharist, you showed us how to be broken in order to share life. We humbly ask you to forgive us for the times that we do not share, avoiding to face our brokenness due to lack of faith in your steadfast and reassuring presence. Give us courage to see our true selves, Lord, and mold us to be a real source of your light and life for others. Amen. Make stronger your life with the Eucharist. Keep the Sabbath Day holy. Attend Mass every Sunday if not every day.

June 7th

1st Reading: 2 Cor 1:1–7:
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy, our brother, to the church of God in Corinth, and to all the saints in the whole of Achaia. May you receive grace and peace from God our Father and from Christ Jesus, the Lord. Blessed be God, the Father of Christ Jesus, our Lord, the all-merciful Father and the God of all comfort! He encourages us in all our trials, so that we may also encourage those in any trial, with the same comfort that we receive from God.

For whenever the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so, through Christ, a great comfort also overflows. So, if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we receive comfort it is also for you. You may experience the same comfort when you come to endure the same sufferings we endure. Our hope for you is most firm; just as you share in our sufferings, so shall you also share in our consolation.

Gospel: Mt 5:1–12:
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain. He sat down and his disciples gathered around him. Then he spoke and began to teach them: Fortunate are those who are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Fortunate are those who mourn, they shall be comforted. Fortunate are the gentle, they shall possess the land. Fortunate are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied. Fortunate are the merciful, for they shall find mercy.

Fortunate are those with pure hearts, for they shall see God. Fortunate are those who work for peace, they shall be called children of God. Fortunate are those who are persecuted for the cause of justice, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Fortunate are you, when people insult you and persecute you and speak all kinds of evil against you because you are my followers. Be glad and joyful, for a great reward is kept for you in God. For that is how this people persecuted the prophets who lived before you.

“There must be emptiness before there can be fullness, and so poverty of spirit precedes riches and grace in the kingdom of God.” ( Matthew’s poverty in spirit is considered in its spiritual sense as opposed to Luke’s poor in spirit in the physical sense. Jesus spoke from the mountain, a sign of authority in contrast with Luke’s account where he taught in the plain, with the people. When I put out my condo on foreclosure, I have to remove everything in it that I acquired through the years. There were things I kept for sentimental reasons, others that are less important had to be thrown away.

I was sad and hurt for leaving and emptying my condo, and throw out things. That is what emptiness is all about. It is synonymous with sadness and nothingness. Nothing is left behind when we empty ourselves of those incompatible with “poor in spirit.” The malicious thoughts, envy, violence and evil intentions must go away before one can truly be a peacemaker, blessed, satisfied, comforted and called as God’s child. The joy and fullness of God’s kingdom are for those who dare to empty themselves of anything that is contrary to the divine.

June 8th

1st Reading: 2 Cor 1:18–22:
God knows that our dealing with you is not Yes and No, just as the Son of God, Christ Jesus, whom we—Silvanus, Timothy and I—preach to you, was not Yes and No; with him it was simply Yes. In him all the promises of God have come to be a Yes, and we also say in his name: Amen! giving thanks to God. God himself has anointed us and strengthens us with you to serve Christ; he has marked us with his own seal in a first outpouring of the Spirit in our hearts.

Gospel: Mt 5:13–16:
You are the salt of the earth. But if salt has lost its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It has become useless. It can only be thrown away and people will trample on it. You are the light of the world. A city built on a mountain cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and covers it; instead it is put on a lampstand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine before others, so that they may see the good you do and praise your Father in heaven.

In the ancient Near East, salt symbolized a variety of functions, shifting between opposites of blessing and a curse, destruction and restoration, protection and harm. While salt adds flavor and preserves food, it is at the same time an essential element for humans to remain healthy in a hot climate. As the food preservative par excellence, salt was used to symbolize permanence and religious purity. Salt is also an important ritual element in many religion, it is used at a child’s baptism. Ancient Palestinians homes had a single doorway and without windows, thus, lamps are very important.

Light symbolizes the realm where God dwells. Light, in opposition to darkness, connotes God’s presence (cf. evil men of darkness against Jesus, the Light, at Gethsemane). Jesus taught his hearers that to be the salt and light in his way is not of imperialistic domination and tyrannical use of power, but of meekness and humility. Light, like salt, was an important household necessity for Palestinian peasants. They couldn’t do without them. Light and salt are meant to enlighten and preserve, but there are some people who by their lives darken and corrupt others instead. Let your light shine in your little corner.

June 9th

St. Ephrem

1st Reading: 2 Cor 3:4–11:
This is how we are sure of God, through Christ. As for us we would not dare consider that something comes from us: our ability comes from God. He has even enabled us to be ministers of a new covenant no longer depending on a written text but on the Spirit. The written text kills, but the Spirit gives life. The ministry of the Law carved on stones brought death; it was nevertheless surrounded by glory and we know that the Israelites could not fix their eyes on the face of Moses, such was his radiance, though fleeting.

How much more glorious will the ministry of the Spirit be! If there is greatness in a ministry which uses to condemn, how much more will there be in the ministry that brings holiness? This is such a glorious thing that in comparison the former’s glory is like nothing. That ministry was provisory and had only moments of glory; but ours endures with a lasting glory.

Gospel: Mt 5:17–19:
Do not think that I have come to annul the Law and the Prophets. I have not come to annul them but to fulfill them. I tell you this: as long as heaven and earth last, not the smallest letter or dot in the Law will change until all is fulfilled. So then, whoever breaks the least important of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be the least in the kingdom of heaven. On the other hand, whoever obeys them, and teaches others to do the same, will be great in the kingdom of heaven.

Some Eastern countries in contrast with the West have loose and dictatorial government and the rich and powerful elite take advantage of the poor masses. People who don’t know any better in terms of the laws expect their leaders by examples and teachings to show faithful observance of rules and regulations. The rich are ostentatious in show of wealth and power. They are like resounding gongs or clanging cymbals, but useless. Instead, the lawmakers are the lawbreakers. The blind guide leading the blind followers. There are people today who disregard the law because they are beholden only to God’s law.

On the other hand, there are those who favor the government’s incursion into religious sphere. It’s a tricky tension between the “City of Man” and the “City of God.” Jesus showed how to balance this tension. Non-observance of the civil law is also a violation of God’s will. Analogously, both cities, similarly different and differently the same, serve the common good. The earthly sphere helps man to reach heaven through material things and the church aids the legitimate civil authorities in the pursuit of the common good through which heaven is served and gained.

June 10th

1st Reading: 2 Cor 3:15–4:1, 3-6:
Up to this very day, whenever they read Moses, the veil remains over their understanding but, for whoever turns to the Lord, the veil shall be removed. The Lord is Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So, with unveiled faces, we all reflect the glory of the Lord, while we are transformed into his likeness, and experience his glory, more and more by the action of the Lord, who is Spirit. Since this is our ministry, mercifully given to us, we do not weaken.

In fact, if the gospel we proclaim remains obscure, it is obscure only for those who go to their own destruction. The god of this world has blinded the minds of these unbelievers, lest they see the radiance of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is God’s image. It is not ourselves we preach, but Christ Jesus, as Lord; and, for Jesus’ sake, we are your servants. God, who said, Let the light shine out of darkness, has also made the light shine in our hearts, to radiate, and to make known the glory of God, as it shines in the face of Christ.

Gospel: Mt 5:20-26:
I tell you, if your sense of right and wrong is not keener than that of the Lawyers and the Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard, that it was said to our people in the past: Do not commit murder; anyone who murders will have to face trial. But now, I tell you: whoever gets angry with a brother or sister will have to face trial. Whoever insults a brother or sister is liable to be brought before the council. Whoever calls a brother or sister “Fool!“ is liable to be thrown into the fire of hell.

So, if you are about to offer your gift at the altar, and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there, in front of the altar; go at once, and make peace with your brother, and then come back and offer your gift to God. Don‘t forget this: be reconciled with your opponent quickly when you are together on the way to court. Otherwise he will turn you over to the judge, who will hand you over to the police, who will put you in jail. There, you will stay, until you have paid the last penny.

We tend to focus on the big stuff and conveniently forgot that it is the smaller stuff that we fail most of the time. As time goes by, these accumulated neglect becomes a fixture so as to become part of our being. Jesus warns us not to think that only those forbidden by the Law matters. Those that leads to such transgressions are what we have to safeguard ourselves the most. This is an invitation to be mindful of what we say and do.

But this is what present society lacks. The capacity to stay aware and focused on what we do. There are too many things that impact us at any given moment of our life. Thus we are not even aware of what is happening inside our heart. When such is the case, our dispersion little by little becomes a moral issue. It is not merely neglect anymore. It becomes part of our habit. Let us stop for a while and take stock of our heart. Perhaps there are many things we ought to reconcile within and without so that when we offer our gifts to the altar of the Lord, the gift comes from a peaceful heart.

June 11th

Sacred Heart of Jesus
St. Barnabas

1st Reading: Hos 11:1, 3–4, 8c–9:
Thus says the Lord: I loved Israel when he was a child; out of Egypt I called my son. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; yet little did they realize that it was I who cared for them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with leading strings of love, and I became for them as one who eases the yoke upon their neck and stoops down to feed them. How can I give you up, Ephraim? Can I abandon you like Admah or make you like Zeboiim? My heart is troubled within me and I am moved with compassion. I will not give vent to my great anger; I will not return to destroy Ephraim for I am God and not human. I am the Holy One in your midst and I do not want to come to you in anger.

2nd Reading: Eph 3:8–12, 14–19:
Brothers and sisters:
To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for all what is the plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God who created all things, so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the principalities and authorities in the heavens. This was according to the eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness of speech and confidence of access through faith in him.

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Gospel: Jn 19:31–37:
As it was Preparation Day, the Jews did not want the bodies to remain on the cross during the Sabbath, for this Sabbath was a very solemn day. They asked Pilate to have the legs of the condemned men broken, so that the bodies might be taken away. The soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man and of the other man, who had been crucified with Jesus. When they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they did not break his legs.

One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a lance, and immediately there came out blood and water. The one who saw that, has testified to it, and his testimony is true; he knows he speaks the truth, so that you also might believe. All this happened to fulfill the words of Scripture: Not one of his bones shall be broken. Another text says: They shall look on him whom they have pierced.

Working adults are on the top of job-stress sufferers; even children, teenagers and senior citizens are also subjected to stress because of crime, alcoholism, physical, and mental fatigue, and loss of strong social support due to family breakups. But what have these statistics to do with today’s Gospel? When people cry for help, what the world offers is strength in power or a scapegoat. The growing body of researchers ranks prayer and religion high among the best stress busters, according to Therese J. Borchard.

In her new book, The Super Stress Solution, Dr. Roberta Lee wrote: “Research shows that people who are more religious or spiritual use their spirituality to cope with life. They’re better able to cope with stress, they heal faster from illness, and they experience increased benefits to their health and well-being.” “On an intellectual level, spirituality connects you to the world, which in turn enables you to stop trying to control things all by yourself. When you feel part of a greater whole, it’s easy to understand that you aren’t responsible for everything that happens in life,” she adds. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”

June 12th

Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary

1st Reading: Is 61:9-11:
Their descendants shall be known among the nations and their offspring among the people. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a race Yahweh has blessed. I rejoice greatly in Yahweh, my soul exults for joy in my God, for he has clothed me in the garments of his salvation, he has covered me with the robe of his righteousness, like a bridegroom wearing a garland, like a bride adorned with jewels. For as the earth brings forth its growth, and as a garden makes seeds spring up, so will the Lord Yahweh make justice and praise spring up in the sight of all nations.

Gospel: Lk 2:41–51:
Every year the parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover, as was customary. And when Jesus was twelve years old, he went up with them, according to the custom of this feast. After the festival was over, they returned, but the boy Jesus remained in Jerusalem, and his parents did not know it. They assumed that he was in their group of travelers, and after walking the whole day they looked for him among their relatives and friends. As they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem searching for him, and on the third day they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions.

And all the people were amazed at his understanding and his answers. His parents were very surprised when they saw him, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I were very worried while searching for you.” Then he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand this answer. Jesus went down with them, returning to Nazareth, and he continued to be obedient to them. As for his mother, she kept all these things in her heart.

Jesus got “lost” so that his parents could find him. It is one of the ironies of the ministry that the very man who works in God’s name is often hardest put to find time for God. “The parents of Jesus lost Him at church, and they were not the last ones to lose Him there.” (Vance Havner) Finding our lost selves in God will help us clearly see our mission in life. This is what the Blessed Virgin did; after finding her “lost” Son, she pondered all things in her heart. Losing is part of life. We have lost things and people in life.

We leave them in oblivion, especially those that have hurt us traumatically, such as loss of a marriage in divorce, loss of old friends and home. We have to resurrect those pains to reconcile ourselves with those losses. There are many emotions in finding those losses again. Regrets would not bring them back. Yet, we find better ways in coping with trials, if we face with resignation our loss. Indeed, losing and finding are not so bad after all. “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand (find) ourselves.” (Henry Thoreau)