Bible Diary for March 22nd – 28th

March 22nd

4th Sunday of Lent

1st Reading: 1 S 16:1b, 6–7, 10–13a:
Yahweh asked Samuel, “How long will you be grieving Saul whom I have rejected as king of Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have chosen my king from among his sons.” As they came, Samuel looked at Eliab the older and thought, “This must be Yahweh’s anointed.” But Yahweh told Samuel, “Do not judge by his looks or his stature for I have rejected him. Yahweh does not judge as man judges; humans see with the eyes; Yahweh sees the heart.” Jesse presented seven of his sons to Samuel who said, “Yahweh has chosen none of them. But are all your sons here?”

Jesse replied, “There is still the youngest, tending the flock just now.” Samuel said to him, “Send for him and bring him to me; we shall not sit down to eat until he arrives.” So Jesse sent for his youngest son and brought him to Samuel. He was a handsome lad with a ruddy complexion and beautiful eyes. And Yahweh spoke, “Go, anoint him for he is the one.” Samuel then took the horn of oil and anointed him in his brothers’ presence. From that day onwards, Yahweh’s spirit took hold of David. Then Samuel left for Ramah.

2nd Reading: Eph 5:8–14:
You were once darkness, but, now, you are light, in the Lord. Behave as children of light; the fruits of light are kindness, justice and truth, in every form. You, yourselves, search out what pleases the Lord, and take no part in works of darkness, that are of no benefit; expose them instead.

Indeed, it is a shame even to speak of what those people do in secret, but as soon as it is exposed to the light, everything becomes clear; and what is unmasked, becomes clear through light. Therefore it is said: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, that the light of Christ may shine on you.”

Gospel: Jn 9:1–41:
As Jesus walked along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Master, was he born blind because of a sin of his, or of his parents?” Jesus answered, “Neither was it for his own sin nor for his parents’ sin. He was born blind so that God’s power might be shown in him. While it is day we must do the work of the One who sent me; for the night will come when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

As Jesus said this, he made paste with spittle and clay, and rubbed it on the eyes of the blind man. Then he said, “Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam.” (This word means sent.) So the blind man went and washed and came back able to see. His neighbors, and all the people who used to see him begging, wondered. They said, “Isn’t this the beg-gar who used to sit here?” Some said, “He’s the one.” Others said, “No, but he looks like him.” But the man himself said, “I am he.” Then they asked him, “How is it, that your eyes were opened?”

And he answered, “The man called Jesus made a mud paste, put it on my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went, and washed, and I could see.” They asked, “Where is he?” and the man answered, “I don’t know.” The people brought the man who had been blind to the Pharisees. Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made mud paste and opened his eyes. The Pharisees asked him again, “How did you recover your sight?” And he said, “He put paste on my eyes, and I washed, and now I see.”

Some of the Pharisees said, “That man is not from God, for he works on the Sabbath”; but others wondered, “How can a sinner perform such miraculous signs?” They were divided, and they questioned the blind man again, “What do you think of this man who opened your eyes?” And he answered, “He is a prophet!” After all this, the Jews refused to believe that the man had been blind and had recovered his sight; so they called his parents and asked them, “Is this your son? You say that he was born blind, how is it, that he now sees?”

The parents answered, “He really is our son and he was born blind; but how it is that he now sees, we don’t know, neither do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is old enough. Let him speak for himself.” The parents said this because they feared the Jews, who had already agreed that whoever confessed Jesus to be the Christ was to be expelled from the synagogue. Because of that his parents said, “He is old enough, ask him.” So, a second time, the Pharisees called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Tell us the truth; we know that this man is a sinner.”

He replied, “I don’t know whether he is a sinner or not; I only know that I was blind and now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He replied, “I have told you already and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” Then they started to insult him. “Become his disciple yourself! We are disciples of Moses. We know that God spoke to Moses; but as for this man, we don’t know where he comes from.”

The man replied, “It is amazing that you don’t know where the man comes from, and yet he opened my eyes! We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but if anyone honors God and does his will, God listens to him. Never, since the world began, has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person who was born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born a sinner and now you teach us!” And they expelled him. Jesus heard that they had expelled him.

He found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “Who is he, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said, “You have seen him and he is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe”; and he worshiped him. Jesus said, “I came into this world to carry out a judgment: Those who do not see shall see, and those who see shall become blind.” Some Pharisees stood by and asked him, “So we are blind?” And Jesus answered, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty. But you say, ‘We see’; this is the proof of your sin.”

Some people relish the fact that someone is inferior to them and feel bad if the status quo is changed. They take delight in the misery of others and enforce a code that legitimizes their pettiness. Such is the case of the people and the Pharisee of today’s Gospel. They would not believe that the blind man who was a sinner in their midst could find healing and wholeness. That was too scandalous since he had to suffer more as punishment for sins committed in this life.

So they maligned him and his healer and declared unholy the healing that had taken place on a holy day. The blind man who now could see should have been the sign that told them God is now walking in their land. Their deeds reveal that their spiritual blindness was far greater than the physical blindness of the man. When was the last time I rejoiced at the blessings of others? Perhaps I have to remind someone today how blessed he or she is and invite her or him to thanksgiving and praise to the God who is overly generous to us.

March 23rd

St. Turibius

1st Reading: Is 65:17–21:
I now create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind again. Be glad forever and rejoice in what I create; for I create Jerusalem to be a joy and its people to be a delight. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people. The sound of distress and the voice of weeping will not be heard in it any more.

You will no longer know of dead children or of adults who do not live out a lifetime. One who reaches a hundred years will have died a mere youth, but one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant crops and eat their fruit.

Gospel: Jn 4:43–54:
When the two days were over, Jesus left for Galilee. Jesus himself said that no prophet is recognized in his own country. Yet the Galileans welcomed him when he arrived, because of all the things which he had done in Jerusalem during the Festival, and which they had seen. For they, too, had gone to the feast. Jesus went back to Cana of Galilee, where he had changed the water into wine. At Capernaum there was an official, whose son was ill, and when he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and asked him to come and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Jesus said, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe!”

The official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” And Jesus replied, “Go, your son lives!” The man had faith in the word that Jesus spoke to him, and went his way. As he was approaching his house, his servants met him, and gave him the good news, “Your son has recovered!” So he asked them at what hour the child began to recover, and they said to him, “The fever left him yesterday, at about one o’clock in the afternoon.” And the father realized that that was the time when Jesus had told him, “Your son lives!” And he became a believer, he and all his family. Jesus performed this second miraculous sign when he returned from Judea to Galilee.

In contrast to Nazareth where Jesus could hardly work miracles because of their unbelief, Galilee is a place of fecundity for the Lord. This is where He first performed His miracle way before His time, the miracle of the wine in a wedding feast. Here in this Gospel, He will again perform another miraculous sign, that is, the healing of the official’s son.

Where there is faith in Him, Jesus’ power manifests itself all the more. He need not pry open the minds and hearts of people. They are already predisposed. This tremendous saving in time and energy of Jesus is therefore channeled to more productive things. Possibilities multiply when there is cooperation.

March 24th

Blessed Oscar Romero

1st Reading: Ezk 47:1–9, 12:
The man brought me back to the entrance of the temple and I saw water coming out from the threshold of the temple and flowing eastward. The temple faced the east and the water flowed from the south side of the temple, from the south side of the altar. He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside, to the outer gate facing the east; and there I saw the stream coming from the south side.

The man had a measuring cord in his hand. As he went towards the east he measured off a thousand cubits; and led me across the water which was up to my ankles. He measured off another thousand cubits and made me cross the water, which came to my knees. He measured off another thousand cubits and we crossed the water, which was up to my waist.

When he had again measured a thousand cubits, I could not cross the torrent, for it had swollen to a depth which was impossible to cross without swimming. The man then said to me, “Son of man, did you see?” He led me on further and then brought me back to the bank of the river. There I saw a number of trees on both sides of the river. He said to me, “This water goes to the east, down to the Arabah, and when it flows into the sea of foul-smelling water, the water will become wholesome.

Wherever the river flows, swarms of creatures will live in it; fish will be plentiful; and the seawater will become fresh. Wherever it flows, life will abound. Near the river on both banks, there will be all kinds of fruit trees, with foliage that will not wither; and fruit that will never fail; each month they will bear a fresh crop, because the water comes from the temple. The fruit will be good to eat and the leaves will be used for healing.

Gospel: Jn 5:1–16:
After this, there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now, by the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem, there is a pool (called Bethzatha in Hebrew) surrounded by five galleries. In these galleries lay a multitude of sick people: blind, lame and paralyzed. (All were waiting for the water to move, for at times an angel of the Lord would descend into the pool and stir up the water; and the first person to enter the pool, after this movement of the water, would be healed of whatever disease that he had.)

There was a man who had been sick for thirty-eight years. Jesus saw him, and because he knew how long this man had been lying there, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” And the sick man answered, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is disturbed; so while I am still on my way, another steps down before me.” Jesus then said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk!”

And at once the man was healed, and he took up his mat and walked. Now that day happened to be the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had just been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and the law doesn’t allow you to carry your mat.” He answered them, “The one who healed me said to me, ‘Take up your mat and walk!’” They asked him, “Who is the one who said to you: Take up your mat and walk?”

But the sick man had no idea who it was who had cured him, for Jesus had slipped away among the crowd that filled the place. Afterward Jesus met him in the temple court and told him, “Now you are well; don’t sin again, lest some-thing worse happen to you.” And the man went back and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. So the Jews persecuted Jesus because he performed healings like that on the Sabbath.

Unhappy is a sick person with no one to attend to his or her needs. There is no one to ease the burden and the suffering such sickness brings. This is what happened to the man sick for thirty-eight years. As much as he desired healing in the miraculous pool of Bethzatha, nobody was there to help him. Each one was preoccupied with his or her own sickness. They could not spare any sympathy for him. Thus whenever the pool’s water was disturbed, those wishing to be healed and their cohorts pushed and shoved one another in an effort to be the first to touch the waters.

It was a hopeless situation indeed for that man. However, Jesus passed by and took pity on Him. Not even the prohibition to refrain from work on the Sabbath could deter Him to help the sick man. He had suffered enough because of his fate. He should not be deprived of healing even on a holy day. Only great persons can transcend the prohibition to love even though it is legitimated by human laws. They are extraordinary because they see beyond the ordinary that most of us see.

March 25th

Annunciation of the Lord

1st Reading: Is 7:10–14; 8:10:
Once again Yahweh addressed Ahaz, “Ask for a sign from Yahweh your God, let it come either from the deepest depths or from the heights of heaven.” But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask, I will not put Yahweh to the test.” Then Isaiah said, “Now listen, descendants of David.

Have you not been satisfied trying the patience of people, that you also try the patience of my God? Therefore the Lord him¬self will give you a sign: The Virgin is with child and bears a son and calls his name Immanuel. Devise a plan and it will be thwarted, make a resolve and it will not stand, for God-is-with-us.

2nd Reading: Heb 10:4–10:
Brothers and sisters:
It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats take away sins. For this reason, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight. Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll, behold, I come to do your will, O God.’”

First he says, “Sacrifices and offerings, holocausts and sin offerings, you neither desired nor delighted in.” These are offered according to the law. Then he says, “Behold, I come to do your will.” He takes away the first to establish the second. By this “will,” we have been consecrated through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Gospel: Lk 1:26–38:
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God, to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a virgin, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. The angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean. But the angel said, “Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you. You shall conceive and bear a son; and you shall call him Jesus. He will be great, and shall rightly be called Son of the Most High.

The Lord God will give him the kingdom of David, his ancestor; he will rule over the people of Jacob forever; and his reign shall have no end.” Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the holy child to be born of you shall be called Son of God. Even your relative, Elizabeth, is expecting a son in her old age, although she was unable to have a child; and she is now in her sixth month. With God nothing is impossible.” Then Mary said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said.” And the angel left her.

Today we celebrate the Incarnation of the Son of God in the womb of the Virgin Mary. This happens just right after the spring equinox (March 20) begins. This is the time when night and day are more or less of equal length. The characteristic of this season lends a rich symbolism to the nature of the baby conceived. He is equally human (represented by the night) and divine (represented by the day).

 Perhaps it is the logic of the season that our forefathers in faith adopted to explain the mystery of Christ rather than the logic of a correct and precise date of Jesus’ conception and birth. They used the language of the cosmos in order to convey the truth that is too big to be encapsulated in mere plain words.

March 26th

1st Reading: Ex 32:7–14:
Then Yahweh said to Moses, “Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have quickly turned from the way I commanded them and have made for themselves a molten calf; they have bowed down before it and sacrificed to it and said: ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you out of Egypt.’” And Yahweh said to Moses, “I see that these people are a stiff-necked people. Now just leave me that my anger may blaze against them. I will destroy them, but of you I will make a great nation.”

But Moses calmed the anger of Yahweh, his God, and said, “Why, O Yahweh, should your anger burst against your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with such great power and with a mighty hand? Let not the Egyptians say: ‘Yahweh brought them out with evil intent, for he wanted to kill them in the mountains and wipe them from the face of the earth.’ Turn away from the heat of your anger and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the promise you yourself swore: I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land I spoke about I will give to them as an everlasting inheritance.” Yahweh then changed his mind and would not yet harm his people.

Gospel: Jn 5:31–47:
If I bore witness to myself, my testimony would be worthless. But Another One is bearing witness to me, and I know that his testimony is true when he bears witness to me. John also bore witness to the truth when you sent messengers to him, but I do not seek such human testimony; I recall this for you, so that you may be saved. John was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were willing to enjoy his light. But I have greater evidence than that of John—the works which the Father entrusted to me to carry out. The very works I do bear witness: the Father has sent me. Thus he who bears witness to me is the Father who sent me. You have never heard his voice and have never seen his likeness; therefore, as long as you do not believe his messenger, his word is not in you.

You search in the Scriptures, thinking that in them you will find life; yet Scripture bears witness to me. But you refuse to come to me, that you may live. I am not seeking human praise; but I know that the love of God is not within you, for I have come in my Father’s name and you do not accept me. If another comes in his own name, you will accept him. As long as you seek praise from one another, instead of seeking the glory which comes from the only God, how can you believe? Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father. Moses himself, in whom you placed your hope, accuses you. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?

Our faith in Jesus is guaranteed by a “cloud of witnesses” according to Hebrews 12:1. This, Jesus claimed as much. In today’s Gospel He presented His own list of witnesses starting from His Father, as evidenced by the work He did in obedience to the Father, John the Baptist and the Scriptures. These are heavy weight witnesses. The catch is it takes time to appreciate the testimonies that they made.

They have to be pondered upon, prayed upon and later be accepted in faith. The good place to start is the Scriptures. There we have the will of the Father regarding what the Messiah will do for His people and the testimonies of John. Perhaps it is high time that we get to re-acquaint ourselves with the Man behind the Book.

March 27th

1st Reading: Wis 2:1a, 12–22:
Led by mistaken reasons they think, “Life is short and sad and there is no cure for death. It was never heard that anyone came back from the netherworld. Let us set a trap for the righteous, for he annoys us and opposes our way of life; he reproaches us for our breaches of the law and accuses us of being false to our upbringing. He claims knowledge of God and calls himself son of the Lord. He has become a reproach to our way of thinking; even to meet him is burdensome to us. He does not live like others and behaves strangely. According to him we have low standards, so he keeps aloof from us as if we were unclean.

He emphasizes the happy end of the righteous and boasts of having God as father. Let us see the truth of what he says and find out what his end will be. If the righteous is a son of God, God will defend him and deliver him from his adversaries. Let us humble and torture him to prove his self-control and test his patience. When we have condemned him to a shameful death, we may test his words.” This is the way they reason, but they are mistaken, blinded by their malice. They do not know the mysteries of God nor do they hope for the reward of a holy life; they do not believe that the blameless will be recompensed.

Gospel: Jn 7:1–2, 10, 25–30:
After this, Jesus went around Galilee; he would not go about in Judea, because the Jews wanted to kill him. Now the Jewish feast of the Tents was at hand. But after his brothers had gone to the festival, he also went up, not publicly but in secret. Some of the people of Jerusalem said, “Is this not the man they want to kill? And here he is speaking freely, and they don’t say a word to him? Can it be, that the rulers know that this is really the Christ?

Yet we know where this man comes from; but when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.” So Jesus announced in a loud voice in the temple court where he was teaching, “You say that you know me and know where I come from! I have not come of myself; I was sent by the One who is true, and you don’t know him. I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.” They would have arrested him, but no one laid hands on him be cause his time had not yet come.

Now, Jesus’ movement gets harder and harder. Those opposed to Him are already pooling resources to constrict His activities. He has to skip some places and go in secret to destinations He wants to be. He needs to do His task of proclaiming the Good News no matter the consequences.

Therefore, Jesus had to clarify to people doubting Him on the basis that the provenance of the Messiah is supposed to be unknown yet they know where He comes from. He has to tell them that He comes from the Father whom He alone knows very well. It was galling to those who believed that they are God’s chosen people. So another reason is added why they have to silence Jesus. His truth is too brutal to their ears.

March 28th

1st Reading: Jer 11:18–20:
Yahweh made it known to me and so I know! And you let me see their scheming: “Take care, even your kinsfolk and your own family are false with you, and behind your back they freely criticize you. Do not trust them when they approach you in a friendly way.” But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter.

I did not know it was against me that they were plotting, “Let us feed him with trials and remove him from the land of the living and let his name never be mentioned again.” Yahweh, God of Hosts, you who judge with justice and know everyone’s heart and intentions, let me see your vengeance on them, for to you I have entrusted my cause.

Gospel: Jn 7:40–53:
Many who had been listening to these words began to say, “This is the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some wondered, “Would the Christ come from Galilee? Doesn’t Scripture say that the Christ is a descendant of David and from Bethlehem, the city of David?” The crowd was divided over him. Some wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him. The officers of the temple went back to the chief priests, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him?” The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man.”

The Pharisees then said, “So you, too, have been led astray! Have any of the rulers or any of the Pharisees believed in him? Only these cursed people, who have no knowledge of the law!” Yet one of them, Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier, spoke out, “Does our law condemn people without first hearing them and knowing the facts?” They replied, “Do you, too, come from Galilee? Look it up and see for yourself that no prophet is to come from Galilee.” And they all went home.

The people are now divided, for or against Jesus. They could not simply make up their mind how to understand Him. Is He a Prophet or the Christ? In addition, if He is the Christ, should it not be that His place of origin is supposed to be unknown? On the other hand, isn’t it that the Messiah should come from the line of David and from Bethlehem?

Questions upon questions arise regarding who Jesus is. And above this commotion lords over the haughty dismissal of the religious authorities of that time. Those who follow Jesus are ignorant of the Law. The situation is tense. It will be a matter of time before things will get out of hand.