Bible Diary for June 7th – 13th

June 7th

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

1st Reading: Ex 34:4b–6, 8–9:
So Moses cut two tablets of stone like the first and, with the two tablets of stone in his hands, Moses went up Mount Sinai in the early morning, as Yahweh has commanded. And Yahweh came down in a cloud and stood there with him, and Moses called on the name of Yahweh. Then Yahweh passed in front of him and cried out, “Yahweh, Yahweh is a God full of pity and mercy, slow to anger and abounding in truth and loving kindness. Moses hastened to bow down to the ground and worshiped.” He then said, “If you really look kindly on me, my Lord, please come and walk in our midst and even though we are a stiff-necked people, pardon our wickedness and our sin and make us yours.”

2nd Reading: 2 Cor 13:11–13:
Finally, brothers and sisters, be happy, strive to be perfect, have courage, be of one mind and live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of Christ Jesus the Lord, the love of God and the fellow-ship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Gospel: Jn 3:16–18:
Yes, God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but may have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world; instead, through him the world is to be saved. Who-ever believes in him will not be condemned. He who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Love is the very essence of our Trinitarian God, for it is, after all, the overflowing, abundant love of the Father that made Him begot His only Son who came from His very own substance. He could have chosen to be alone for all eternity, complete and whole unto Himself but His love so overflows that He decided to have a community of Persons within the Godhead, the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit who is the love of the Father to the Son, and the Son who receives this love and returns it to the Father.

Thus this “community of love” presides over the whole creation in love. It follows therefore that the way to our divinization is no other than the path of love. Have I told the people close to me lately that I love them? It may sound corny and so banal, what with the many “I love yous” spoken insincerely. But I will not mind this negative thought today. I will reach out to those who matter to me and I will tell them straight faced that I love them.

June 8th

1st Reading: 1 Kgs 17:1–6:
Now Elijah, the prophet from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As Yahweh, the God of Israel whom I serve lives, neither dew shall drop nor rain fall except at my command.” Then the word of Yahweh came to Elijah, “Leave this place and go eastward. Hide yourself by the brook Cherith, east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the brook and, for your food, I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” So Elijah obeyed the word of Yahweh and went to live by the brook Cherith, east of the Jordan. There the ravens brought him bread in the morning and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook.

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 righteousness, 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.

The valuation of fortune and misfortune is usually dependent on what one holds dear and important. In a world steeped in materialistic orientation, outward appearances are esteemed rather than interiority. Jesus considers fortunate those whom the world normally abhors. It is because they have something that can never be taken away from them. It is embedded in their being. We have two choices before us: to be considered fortunate by the world or to be fortunate according to the standards of heaven. Whatever decisions we make will shape the orientation and direction of the life we will lead.

June 9th

St. Ephrem

1st Reading: 1 Kgs 17:7–16:
After a while, the brook dried up because no rain had fallen in the land. Then Yahweh spoke to Elijah, “Go to Zarephath of the Sidonites and stay there. I have given word to a widow there, to give you food.” So Elijah went to Zarephath. On reaching the gate of the town, he saw a widow gathering sticks. He called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel that I may drink.” As she was going to bring it, he called after her and said, “Bring me also a piece of bread.” But she answered, “As Yahweh your God lives, I have no bread left, but only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am just now gathering some sticks so that I may go in and prepare something for myself and my son to eat—and die.”

Elijah then said to her, “Do not be afraid. Go, and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me. Then make some for yourself and your son. For this is the word of Yahweh, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of meal shall not be emptied nor shall the jug of oil fail, until the day when Yahweh sends rain to the earth.” So she went and did as Elijah told her; and she had food for herself, Elijah and her son from that day on. The jar of flour was not emptied nor did the jug of oil fail, in accordance with what Yahweh had said through Elijah.

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 hid den. No one lights a lamp and covers it; instead, it is put on a lamp stand, 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.

Once a precious commodity whose weight equaled the value of gold in equal quantity, salt flavors and preserves food. It cleans and is usually believed to cast away evil when flung in the air. Our being equated to salt shows the value and esteem that the Lord has for us. And like salt we are enjoined to spice up the world with holy lives, preserving the values of the Kingdom even if it goes out of fashion in this changing world, and contributing to transforming this sinful world into a civilization of love.

The second imagery that Jesus used for us is light. We are the light of the world darkened by sinful structures that block the light of God. But this light is not ours, it is the reflection of the light of Jesus in our life. The amount of light we can absorb from Him is dependent on our quality as instruments of His light.

June 10th

1st Reading:  1 Kgs 18:20–39:
So Ahab sent for all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets at Mount Carmel. Then Elijah addressed the people and asked, “How long will you follow two ways at the same time? If Yahweh is God, follow him; but if Baal is God then follow him.” The people remained silent. So Elijah continued, “I am the only prophet of Yahweh left here to face Baal’s four hundred and fifty prophets. Get us two bulls. Let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it into pieces and lay it on the wood and I will do the same with the other bull. But we will not set it on fire. Then you shall call on the name of your god while I shall call on the name of Yahweh. The God who answers with fire is the true one.”

Then the people answered, “That is right.” Then Elijah told the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many. Then call on the name of your god lest you are left without fire!” So they took the bull and prepared it, and they called on the name of Baal, “Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice and no one answered them while they went on dancing on one foot around the altar they had built. By noontime, Elijah began to mock them, “Shout out louder. Baal is a busy god; or he may have gone out or perhaps he has gone on a trip, or he is sleeping and must be wakened.” So they shouted louder gashing their skin with knives, as they are used to doing, until they bled. It was already past noon and they were still raving on until the time of the evening offering.

But still there was no voice; no one answered or gave a sign of life. Then Elijah said to the people, “Draw closer to me,” and the people drew closer to him. He then repaired the altar of Yahweh which had been thrown down. He took twelve stones corresponding to the number of tribes of the sons of Jacob whom Yahweh had addressed saying, “Israel shall be your name.” With these stones, he built an altar to the Name of Yahweh and dug a trench around it that would contain about thirty liters. He then arranged the firewood, cut the bull in pieces and laid them on the wood. Then, he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the firewood.” He said, “Do it again”; and they did it again; “one more time,” and they did it a third time.

The water ran around the altar and filled the trench. When the time of the evening offering came, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Yahweh, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant, doing all these things at your command. Answer me, O Yahweh, answer me so that this people may know that you, O Yahweh, are God and that you are turning back their hearts to you.” Then the fire of Yahweh fell and consumed the burnt offering, together with the wood, the stones also, and the dust; the water also dried up in the trench. All the people witnessed this. Then they fell on their faces and said, “Yahweh is God! Yahweh is God!”

Gospel: Mt 5:17–19:
Jesus said to his disciples, “Do not think that I have come to remove the Law and the Prophets. I have not come to remove but to fulfill them. I tell you this: as long as heaven and earth last, not the smallest letter or stroke of 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.”

God is revealed to us through every one we meet, through every moment of insight, through every blade of grass. Nothing is without spiritual purpose in life. It is only a matter of learning to ask ourselves what it teaches us about God’s will for us.

June 11th

St. Barnabas

1st Reading: Acts 11:21b–26; 13:1–3:
The hand of the Lord was with them so that a great number believed and turned to the Lord. News of this reached the ears of the Church in Jerusalem, so they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the manifest signs of God’s favor, he rejoiced and urged them all to remain firmly faithful to the Lord; for he, himself, was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith. Thus large crowds came to know the Lord. Then Barnabas went off to Tarsus, to look for Saul; and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year, they had meetings with the Church and instructed many people.

It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians. There were at Antioch—in the Church which was there prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Symeon known as Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod, and Saul. On one occasion, while they were celebrating the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said to them, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul to do the work for which I have called them.” So, after fasting and praying, they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

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, of being 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.

Doing the minimum in our spiritual life is not enough. Jesus cautions His followers to be righteous in a much broader way than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees. They have to act more than what the Law places at face value. For the spirit of the Law is usually not captured by plain words alone. The literal sense of the Law does not do justice to the scope and breadth that it covers. Jesus reminds them that murder is not just killing the physical life of persons; it also includes the act of insulting and humiliating people in public. The ensuing hostility between parties robs them of their abilities to enjoy life to the fullest. Only reconciliation will restore the equilibrium and bring them back towards normal life.

June 12th

1st Reading: 1 Kgs 19:9a, 11–16:
On reaching the place, he came to the cave and stayed in it. Then the word of Yahweh came to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Then Yahweh said, “Go up and stand on the mount, waiting for Yahweh.” And Yahweh passed by. There was first a windstorm, wild wind which rent the mountains and broke the rocks into pieces before Yahweh, but Yahweh was not in the wind. After the storm, an earthquake, but Yahweh was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, a fire, but Yahweh was not in the fire; after the fire, the murmur of a gentle breeze. When Elijah perceived it, he covered his face with his cloak, went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

Then he heard a voice addressing him again, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I am burning with jealous love for Yahweh, the God of Hosts, because the Israelites have forsaken your Covenant, thrown down your altars and slain your prophets with the sword. No one is left but myself, yet they still seek my life to take it away.” Yahweh said to him, “Take the road back through the desert and go to Damascus, for you must anoint Hazael as king of Syria. You shall also anoint Jehu, son of Nimshi, as king over Israel. And Elisha, son of Shaphat, from Abel Meholah, you shall anoint as prophet in your place.

Gospel: Mt 5:27–32:
You have heard that it was said: Do not commit adultery. But I tell you this: anyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent, has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So, if your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away! It is much better for you to lose a part of your body, than to have your whole body thrown into hell. If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away!

It is better for you to lose a part of your body, than to have your whole body thrown into hell. It was also said: Anyone who divorces his wife, must give her a written notice of divorce. But what I tell you is this: if a man divorces his wife, except in the case of unlawful union, he causes her to commit adultery. And the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Again Jesus talks of the spirit of the Law that must be taken into account in our spiritual and moral life. He wants His disciples to understand the Law beyond its surface meaning until they come to the very heart: that an offense occurs when one begins doing what is prohibited. Thus adultery begins with one’s lustful look at a woman. Every time one entertains a temptation, one deliberately weakens the will to resist. Ultimately without self-discipline, the fall into sin follows. For sin has a long history. The completion of the act is merely the end of a long series of unhindered sinful acts.

June 13th

St. Anthony of Padua

1st Reading: 1 Kgs 19:19–21:
Elijah left. He found Elisha, son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen; he was following the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak over him. Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah and said, “Let me say goodbye to my father and mother; then I will follow you.” Elijah said to him, “Return if you want, don’t worry about what I did.” However, Elisha turned back, took the yoke of oxen and slew them. He roasted their meat on the pieces of the yoke and gave it to his people who ate of it. After this, he followed Elijah and began ministering to him.

Gospel: Mt 5:33–37:
You have also heard that people were told in the past: Do not break your oath; an oath sworn to the Lord must be kept. But I tell you this: do not take oaths. Do not swear by the heavens, for they are God’s throne; nor by the earth, because it is his foot stool; nor by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great king. Do not even swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black. Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything else you say comes from the evil one.

Promises are made not to be broken but to be fulfilled. They are the present articulation of what we intend to do in the future. A promise usually gives additional backing to one’s words. They are resorted to when the other party has doubts and fears that need to be assuaged. But one need not make any promises if one’s intention is clear from the very beginning. Sincerity doesn’t need the backing of a sworn oath. The words spoken plainly and clearly are enough to guarantee your position. Today Jesus encourages us to make our word our bond.