Bible Diary for March 1st – 7th
1st Sunday of Lent
1st Reading: Gen 2:7–9; 3:1–7:
Then Yahweh God formed man, dust drawn from the clay, and breathed into his nostrils a breath of life and man became alive with breath. God planted a garden in Eden in the east and there he placed man whom he had created. Yahweh God caused to grow from the ground every kind of tree that is pleasing to see and good to eat, also the tree of Life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Now the serpent was the most crafty of all the wild creatures that Yahweh God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say: You must not eat from any tree in the garden?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees in the garden, but of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden God said: You must not eat, and you must not touch it or you will die.” The serpent said to the woman, “You will not die, but God knows that the day you eat it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil.”
The woman saw that the fruit was good to eat, and pleasant to the eyes, and ideal for gaining knowledge. She took its fruit and ate it and gave some to her husband who was with her. He ate it. Then their eyes were opened and both of them knew they were naked. So they sewed leaves of a fig tree together and made themselves loincloths.
2nd Reading: Rom 5:12–19:
Therefore, sin entered the world through one man; and through sin, death; and later on, death spread to all humankind, because all sinned. As long as there was no law, they could not speak of disobedience, but sin was already in the world. This is why, from Adam to Moses, death reigned among them, although their sin was not disobedience, as in Adam’s case—this was not the true Adam, but foretold the other, who was to come.
Such has been the fall, but God’s gift goes far beyond. All died, because of the fault of one man, but how much more does the grace of God spread, when the gift he granted, reaches all, from this unique man, Jesus Christ.
Again, there is no comparison between the gift, and the offense of one man. The disobedience that brought condemnation was of one sinner, whereas the grace of God brings forgiveness to a world of sinners. If death reigned through the disobedience of one and only one person, how much more, will there be a reign of life, for those who receive the grace, and the gift of true righteousness, through the one person, Jesus Christ.
Just as one transgression brought sentence of death to all, so, too, one man’s good act has brought justification and light to all; and, as the disobedience of only one, made all sinners, so the obedience of one person, allowed all to be made just and holy.
Gospel: Mt 4:1–11:
Then the Spirit led Jesus into the desert, that he might be put to the test by the devil. After Jesus fasted forty days and nights he was famished. Then the tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, order these stones to turn into bread.” But Jesus answered, “Scripture says: One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Then the devil took Jesus to the Holy City, set him on the highest wall of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for scripture says: God has given orders to his angels concerning you. Their hands will hold you up, lest you hurt your foot against a stone.”
Jesus answered, “But scripture also says: You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” Then the devil took Jesus to a very high mountain, and showed him all the nations of the world in all their greatness and splendor. And he said, “All this I will give you, if you kneel down and worship me.” Then Jesus answered, “Be off, Satan! Scripture says: Worship the Lord your God and serve him alone!” Then the devil left him; and angels came to serve him.
Countless men and women have prepared themselves before embarking on a life-changing venture by confronting their very own selves. This usually means leaving the ordinary and familiar in their lives and spending some time in silence, mortification and prayer. It is a test of inner strength because what is buried deep in the heart and mind surfaces during this period of preparation. The temptation of Jesus is a classic temptation. It deals with the basic needs of everyone, from the will to survive, the need to be loved and be special and the will to power.
Jesus with deft and aplomb navigated these mundane concerns by firmly focusing His mind on the Word of God. It was His moral compass and guide. It did not fail Him. For “heaven and earth may pass away, but the Word of God will not.” We too shall overcome if we cling firmly to God’s word. I am usually beset by countless challenges and temptations everyday. How do I fare? Am I like Jesus who stood firmly in God’s unchanging world or do I give in to compromises, back deals or indifference? Perhaps today is a good day to stand my ground with the Word of God as my shield.
1st Reading: Lev 19:1–2, 11–18:
Yahweh spoke to Moses and said, “Speak to the entire assembly of the people of Israel and say to them: Be holy for I, Yahweh, your Cod, am holy. Do not steal or lie or deceive one another. Do not swear falsely by my name so as to profane the name of your God; I am Yahweh. Do not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired man are not to remain with you all night until morning. You shall not curse a deaf man nor put a stumbling block in the way of the blind; but you shall fear your God; I am Yahweh.
Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor nor bow to the great; you are to judge your neighbor fairly so as not to share in his guilt. Do not go about as a slanderer of your people and do not seek the death of your neighbor; I am Yahweh. Do not hate your brother in your heart; rebuke your neighbor frankly so as not to share in his guilt. Do not seek revenge or nurture a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am Yahweh.”
Gospel: Mt 25:31–46:
When the Son of Man comes in his glory with all his angels, he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be brought before him; and, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, so will he do with them, placing the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left. The king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, blessed of my Father! Take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world.
For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you welcomed me into your home. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to see me.’ Then the righteous will ask him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, and give you food; thirsty, and give you something to drink; or a stranger, and welcome you; or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and go to see you?’
The king will answer, ‘Truly I say to you: just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Go, cursed people, out of my sight, into the eternal fire, which has been prepared for the devil and his angels! For I was hungry, and you did not give me anything to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not welcome me into your house; I was naked, and you did not clothe me; I was sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me.’
They, too, will ask, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, thirsty, naked or a stranger, sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ The king will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you: just as you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for me.’ And these will go into eternal punishment; but the just, to eternal life.”
What we do here on earth echoes in eternity. This is why we have to be mindful of what we do here below. Sometimes it is not so much the big faults that will condemn us but the little transgressions that we tend to overlook. For the big sins are always before us; they don’t allow us to be at peace. We might struggle for a time but inevitably we will give in to repentance and confess these big sins.
Not so the smaller faults. They tend to be bypassed. Thus there will be a big surprise on judgment day when these little things will condemn us before the judge and ruler of the world. It pays to be mindful and aware of our actions now, especially our tendency to neglect the little ones of God. Little they may be here on earth but they sure have a big say in the judgment to come.
St. Katharine Drexel
1st Reading: Is 55:10–11:
As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return till they have watered the earth, making it yield seed for the sower and food for others to eat, so is my word that goes forth out of my mouth: it will not return to me idle, but it shall accomplish my will, the purpose for which it has been sent.
Gospel: Mt 6:7–15:
When you pray, do not use a lot of words, as the pagans do; for they believe that, the more they say, the more chance they have of being heard. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need, even be – fore you ask him. This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, holy be your name, your kingdom, come, your will, be done on earth, as in heaven. Give us today, our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we forgive those who are in debt to us. Do not bring us to the test, but deliver us from the evil one. If you forgive others their wrongdoings, your Father in heaven will also forgive yours. If you do not for-give others, then your Father will not forgive you.
Prayer is something private and individual. We can never teach others how we pray for they might not have the necessary disposition that we have while praying. We can only encourage them and show them our own prayer life to stimulate their own desire to have intimacy with God.
We may even share with them our prayers but they have to find on their own this sense of connection and deep relationship with the Father. That is why Jesus may have taught us the only prayer that directly came from Him, but we could never recreate His disposition and inner reality.
1st Reading: Jon 3:1–10:
The word of Yahweh came to Jonah a second time: “Go to Nineveh, the great city, and announce to them the message I give you.” In obedience to the word of Yahweh, Jonah went to Nineveh. It was a very large city, and it took three days just to cross it. So Jonah walked a single day’s journey and began proclaiming, “Forty days more and Nineveh will be destroyed.” The people of the city believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. Upon hearing the news, the king of Nineveh got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, put on sackcloth and sat down in ashes.
He issued a proclamation throughout Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles, no people or beasts, herd or flock, will taste anything; neither will they eat nor drink. But let people and beasts be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call aloud to God, turn from his evil ways and violence. Who knows? God may yet relent, turn from his fierce anger and spare us.” When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened upon them.
Gospel: Lk 11:29–32:
As the crowd increased, Jesus spoke the following words: “People of the present time are troubled people. They ask for a sign, but no sign will be given to them except the sign of Jonah. As Jonah became a sign for the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be a sign for this generation.
The Queen of the South will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and here, there is greater than Solomon. The people of Nineveh will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for Jonah’s preaching made them turn from their sins, and here, there is greater than Jonah.
Jonah, the prophet of the Old Testament, was commissioned by God to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh and he tried to run away from his mandate. That was him exercising his own freedom. But God is also free to pursue His own plan and when these two freedoms collide, it is God’s will that triumphs and Jonah found himself in the soil of Nineveh to do what God had ordered him. And the people repented.
The judgment of God was averted. And here in our Gospel hundreds of years after is someone greater than Jonah. He too was commissioned by the Father to preach repentance first to His people Israel; unlike Jonah He obeyed. But He is not successful. His unconditional obedience did not guarantee that the mission would be a success. And so God can in His freedom pursue His plans, but humanity has to cooperate. If not, the plan of God will remain a plan until proper disposition makes it workable.
1st Reading: Est C:12, 14–16, 23–25:
Seized with anguish in her fear of death, Queen Esther likewise had recourse to the Lord. Then she prayed to the Lord God of Israel: My Lord, you who stand alone, come to my help; I am alone and have no help but you. Through my own choice I am endangering my life. As a child I was wont to hear from the people of the land of my forebears that you, O Lord, chose Israel from among all people, and our fathers from among their ancestors to be your lasting heritage; that you did for them, all that you have promised.
Remember us, Lord; reveal yourself in the time of our calamity. Give me courage, King of gods and master of all power. Make my words persuasive when I face the lion; turn his heart against our enemy, that the latter and his like may be brought to their end. Save us by your hand; help me who am alone and have none but you, O Lord.
Gospel: Mt 7:7–12:
Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives; whoever seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Would any of you give a stone to your son, when he asks for bread? Or give him a snake, when he asks for a fish?
However bad you may be, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! So, do to others whatever you would that others do to you: there, you have the law and the prophets.
The injunction of Jesus towards the end of the Gospel is a good guide for better living with others. We do to others what we want them to do to us. The measure is easy and right at hand. It is our very self. We need not imagine anything outside us. Yet we still fall into the trap of isolating the self from others.
We tend to compete with them rather than make them our allies. If we but look at them as a reflection of who we are, we will realize that we have the same dreams and aspirations; deep down we want the same things. Thus the word of the Lord: “Do unto others whatever you would others do to you.”
1st Reading: Ezk 18:21–28:
If the sinner turns from his sin, observes my decrees and practices what is right and just, he will live; he will not die. None of the sins he committed will be charged against him; he will live, as a consequence of his righteous deeds. Do I want the death of the sinner?—word of Yahweh. Do I not, rather, want him to turn from his ways and live? But if the righteous man turns away from what is good, and commits sins as the wicked do, will he live? His righteous deeds will no longer be credited to him; but he will die, because of his infidelity and his sins.
But you say: Yahweh’s way is not just! Why, Israel! Is my position wrong? Is it not rather that yours is wrong? If the righteous man turns from his righteous deeds, and sins, then he dies, because of his sins. And if the wicked man does what is good and right, after turning from the sins he committed, he will save his life. He will live and not die, because he has opened his eyes; and turned from the sins he had committed.
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.
Anger as an emotion is something human and normal. Everybody feels this from time to time. Even Jesus displayed anger on several occasions. As a human emotion, it is something neutral. It is just the way it is. But what one does as a consequence of anger is where the judgment of good or bad enters. Jesus gets angry at the stubbornness of the people of His time.
He tries to teach them the truth but they consistently reject Him. His anger comes from His sadness that salvation is at hand yet people do not avail of it. He never wished them ill. The same thing cannot be said for most of us. We have difficulty handling our anger. We also get angry most of the time for the wrong reason. That is why the Gospel counsels us to address our anger immediately before it gets the better of us. We should do it early or be sorry later on.
Sts. Perpetua and Felicity
1st Reading: Dt 26:16–19:
On this day, Yahweh, your God, commands you to fulfill these norms and these commandments. Obey them now and put them into practice with all your heart and with all your soul. Today Yahweh has declared to you that he will be your God, and so you shall follow his ways, observing his norms, his commandments and his laws, and listening to his voice.
Today Yahweh has declared that you will be his very own people even as he had promised you, and you must obey all his commandments. He, for his part, will give you honor, renown and glory, and set you high above all the nations he has made, and you will become a nation consecrated to Yahweh, your God, as he has declared.
Gospel: Mt 5:43–48:
You have heard, that it was said: Love your neighbor and do not do good to your enemy. But this I tell you: love your enemies; and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in Heaven.
For he makes his sun rise on both the wicked and the good; and he gives rain to both the just and the unjust. If you love those who love you, what is special about that? Do not even tax collectors do as much? And if you are friendly only to your friends, what is so exceptional about that? Do not even the pagans do as much? As for you, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
It takes real courage to love especially our enemies. We sometimes glorify those who are not averse to the use of force to protect their interest and sneer at those who continue to love even if the situation is hopeless. We see courage in the former and stupidity in the latter. But those who readily use force are not courageous; they simply are violent.
They act according to the primitive instinct common to all humanity. It takes more effort to love especially those not worthy. It is more exhausting. It is because of this that those who know how to love are stronger. Their strength is not physical but something transcendental.