Bible Diary for November 10th – 16th

November 10th

St. Leo the Great

1st Reading: 2 Mc 7:1-2, 9-14:
It happened also that seven brothers were arrested with their mother. The king had them scourged and flogged to force them to eat the flesh of a pig which was prohibited by the law. One of them, speaking in behalf of all, said, “What do you want to find out from us? We are prepared to die right now rather than break the law of our ancestors.” At the moment of his last breath, he said, “Murderer, you now dismiss us from life, but the king of the world will raise us up. He will give us eternal life since we die for his laws.”

After this, they punished the third. He stuck his tongue out when asked to, bravely stretched forth his hands, and even had the courage to say: “I have received these limbs from God, but for love of his laws I now consider them as nothing. For I hope to recover them from God.” The king and his court were touched by the courage of this young man, so unconcerned about his own sufferings. When this one was dead, they subjected the fourth to the same torture. At the point of death, he cried out, “I would rather die at the hands of mortals, and wait for the promises of God who will raise us up; you, however, shall have no part in the resurrection of life.”

2nd Reading: 2 Thes 2:16 – 3:5:
May Christ Jesus, our Lord, who has loved us, may God our Father, who, in his mercy, gives us everlasting comfort and true hope, strengthen you. May he encourage your hearts and make you steadfast in every good work and word. Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the word of God may spread rapidly and be glorified everywhere, as it was with you.

May God guard us from wicked and evil people, since not everyone has faith. The Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and keep you safe from the evil one. Besides, we have, in the Lord, this confidence, that you are doing, and will continue to do, what we order you. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

Gospel: Lk 20:27-38:
Some Sadducees arrived. These people claim that there is no resurrection and they asked Jesus this question, “Master, in the Scripture Moses told us: ‘If anyone dies leaving a wife but no children, his brother must take the wife, and the child to be born will be regarded as the child of the deceased man.’ Now, there were seven brothers; the first married a wife, but he died without children; and the second and the third took the wife; in fact all seven died leaving no children. Last of all the woman died. On the day of the resurrection, to which of them will the woman be wife? For the seven had her as wife.”

And Jesus replied, “Taking husband or wife is proper to people of this world, but for those who are considered worthy of the world to come and of resurrection from the dead, there is no more marriage. Besides, they cannot die for they are like the angels. They too are sons and daughters of God because they are born of the resurrection. “Yes, the dead will be raised, and even Moses implied it in the passage about the burning bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, therefor he is God of the living and not of the dead, and for him all are alive.”

The Christian view of life after death is clear. There is resurrection. But the Lord cautions us that it is only for those who will be deemed worthy. Only for those who will remain loyal and steadfast despite difficulties and even tortures. Lord, grant me a strong resolve to be yours until death.

November 11th

St. Martin of Tours

1st Reading: Wis 1:1-7:
Love justice, you who judge the earth; think of the Lord in goodness, and seek him in integrity of heart; Because he is found by those who test him not, and he manifests himself to those who do not disbelieve him. For perverse counsels separate a man from God, and his power, put to the proof, rebukes the foolhardy; because into a soul that plots evil, wisdom enters not, nor dwells she in a body under debt of sin.

For the Holy Spirit of discipline flees deceit and withdraws from senseless counsels; and when injustice occurs it is rebuked. For wisdom is a kindly spirit, yet she acquits not the blasphemer of his guilty lips; Because God is the witness of his inmost self and the sure observer of his heart and the listener to his tongue. For the Spirit of the Lord fills the world, is all-embracing, and knows what man says.

Gospel: Lk 17:1-6:
Jesus said to his disciples, “Scandals will necessarily come and cause people to fall; but woe to the one who has brought it about. It would be better for that one to be thrown into the sea with a millstone around the neck. Truly, this would be better for that person, than to cause one of these little ones to fall.

“Be careful. If your brother offends you, rebuke him and if he is sorry, forgive him. And if he offends you seven times in a day but says to you seven times: ‘I’m sorry,’ forgive him.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” And the Lord said, “If you have faith even the size of a mustard seed, you may say to this tree: ‘Be uprooted and plant yourself in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”

When his soldier-father was stationed in Italy, St. Martin learned about Christianity and was swiftly attracted to it and became a catechumen. At the age of 15, being a son of a veteran soldier, he was obliged to render military service. It was at this time that a famous incident involving him happened. One winter day, as he was on his way to a town, he noticed near the gate a beggar without any protection from the cold begging alms. Since he had nothing with him, he took his sword and divided his winter cloak into two; he used one piece to wrap around the shivering beggar.

That night he saw in a dream Jesus, surrounded by angels, wearing half of his cloak and heard him said, “Martin, while even a catechumen, gave me half of his cloak”. This paved the way for his conversion. He lived an austere life of a hermit and later was named, by popular acclamation, bishop of Tours in France. Many miracles were attributed to him and he was known for his piety, courageous preaching, and training of priests. He died on November 8 with eyes and hands raised to heaven, and was buried on this day in the year 400.

November 12th

St. Josaphat

1st Reading: Wis 2:23–3:9:
God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made them. But by the envy of the Devil, death entered the world, and they who are in his possession experience it. But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace. For if before men, indeed, they be punished, yet is their hope full of immortality; chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself.

As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself. In the time of their visitation they shall shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble; They shall judge nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord shall be their King forever. Those who trust in him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with him in love: Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones, and his care is with his elect.

Gospel: Lk 17:7-10:
Jesus said to his disciples, “Who among you would say to your servant coming in from the fields after plowing or tending sheep: ‘Come at once and sit down at table’? No, you tell him: ‘Prepare my dinner. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink; you can eat and drink afterwards.’ Do you thank this servant for doing what you commanded? So for you. When you have done all that you have been told to do, you must say: ‘We are no more than servants; we have only done our duty.’”

I remember that while in grade school, whenever I scored 100% in examinations and assignments, I would always go to my grandma to collect my “reward”. This might sound self-centered but I was my grandma’s favorite grandchild out of about 15 then and it was her way of encouraging me to excel in my studies. But come to think of it, do I need to be rewarded for doing well? The culture of reward and punishment would say yes. The Christian perspective sees otherwise, however.

There is nothing wrong in striving at excellence or making every effort to succeed in performing tasks. We are in fact encouraged not to be mediocre but always aiming for perfection (cf. Mt. 5:48). But if I accomplish good things and deeds, I cannot boast of them before God and claim my reward. I simply did what I was expected to do. I should be content that I have proven to him that I am his child, good, faithful, and obedient. I do good works not to get paid, but for the Father who created me to get praised.

November 13th

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

1st Reading: Wis 6:1-11:
Hear, O kings, and understand; learn, you magistrates of the earth’s expanse! Hearken, you who are in power over the multitude and lord it over throngs of peoples! Because authority was given you by the Lord and sovereignty by the Most High, who shall probe your works and scrutinize your counsels. Because, though you were ministers of his kingdom, you judged not rightly, and did not keep the law, nor walk according to the will of God, Terribly and swiftly shall he come against you, because judgment is stern for the exalted–For the lowly may be pardoned out of mercy but the mighty shall be mightily put to the test.

For the Lord of all shows no partiality, nor does he fear greatness, Because he himself made the great as well as the small, and he provides for all alike; but for those in power a rigorous scrutiny impends. To you, therefore, O princes, are my words addressed that you may learn wisdom and that you may not sin. For those who keep the holy precepts hallowed shall be found holy, and those learned in them will have ready a response. Desire therefore my words; long for them and you shall be instructed.

Gospel: Lk 17:11-19:
On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus passed through Samaria and Galilee, and as he entered a village, ten lepers came to meet him. Keeping their distance, they called to him, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” Jesus said to them, “Go, and show yourselves to the priests.” Then, as they went on their way, they found they were cured.

One of them, as soon as he saw that he was cleansed, turned back, praising God in a loud voice; and throwing himself on his face before Jesus, he gave him thanks. This man was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked him, “Were not all ten healed? Where are the other nine? Did none of them decide to return and give praise to God, but this foreigner?” And Jesus said to him, “Stand up and go your way; your faith has saved you.”

According to one story, a priest passionately delivered a sermon on gratitude. He told the congregation in attendance that it is necessary to develop a habit of thanking God for everything in life. He used a passage from St. Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians (5:18): in all circumstance, give thanks. He wanted to show an example during the offertory, so he waited for the collection bag to reach him. To his surprise, the bag contained none. Not one dropped a coin into the collection.

By this time, all eyes were on him and he found himself in a dilemma. But then an inspiration came. He looked up and said, “Lord, thank you, we still have the bag!” From a practical perspective, the gospel story shows to us God’s goodness and the tendency of many of us to overlook it. The challenge of course to all of us is not to forget God. We may have many problems in life but there are still many things to thank God for. We are still blessed and God still deserves our gratitude. We should not only recognize the gift, we should thank the giver.

November 14th

1st Reading: Wis 7:22b – 8:1:
In Wisdom is a spirit intelligent, holy, unique, Manifold, subtle, agile, clear, unstained, certain, Not baneful, loving the good, keen, unhampered, beneficent, kindly, Firm, secure, tranquil, all-powerful, all-seeing, And pervading all spirits, though they be intelligent, pure and very subtle. For Wisdom is mobile beyond all motion, and she penetrates and pervades all things by reason of her purity. For she is an aura of the might of God and a pure effusion of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nought that is sullied enters into her. For she is the refulgence of eternal light, the spotless mirror of the power of God, the image of his goodness.

And she, who is one, can do all things, and renews everything while herself perduring; And passing into holy souls from age to age, she produces friends of God and prophets. For there is nought God loves, be it not one who dwells with Wisdom. For she is fairer than the sun and surpasses every constellation of the stars. Compared to light, she takes precedence; for that, indeed, night supplants, but wickedness prevails not over Wisdom. Indeed, she reaches from end to end mightily
and governs all things well.

Gospel: Lk 17:20-25
The Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was to come. He answered, “The kingdom of God is not like something you can observe, and say of it, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘See, there it is!’ for the kingdom of God is within you.” And Jesus said to his disciples, “The time is at hand, when you will long to see one of the glorious days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. Then people will tell you, ‘Look there! Look here!’ Do not go with them, do not follow them. As lightning flashes from one end of the sky to the other, so will it be with the Son of Man; but first he must suffer many things, and be rejected by this generation.

We all heard of the term new evangelization. Although this concept was coined only by John Paul II, this idea started with Paul VI’s Evangelii Nuntiandi and picked up by Benedict XVI. Even Pope Francis joins his predecessors by tackling the challenge of New Evangelization in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. New evangelization primarily looks into de-Christianized and secularized societies. As Pope Benedict XVI puts it, this is bringing the gospel “to those regions awaiting the first evangelization and to those regions where the roots of Christianity are deep but who have experienced a serious crisis of faith due to secularization.”

The call of the new evangelization is our shared call. Pope John Paul II in Redemptoris Missio affirmed that “Those who are incorporated in the Catholic Church ought to sense their privilege and for that very reason their greater obligation of bearing witness to the faith and to the Christian life as a service to their brothers and sisters and as a fitting response to God (11). But the call to this mission requires that our own faith should be deep and that the Kingdom of God has taken its roots profoundly in our lives.

November 15th

St. Albert the Great

1st Reading: Wis 13:1-9:
All men were by nature foolish who were in ignorance of God, and who from the good things seen did not succeed in knowing him who is, and from studying the works did not discern the artisan; But either fire, or wind, or the swift air, or the circuit of the stars, or the mighty water, or the luminaries of heaven, the governors of the world, they considered gods. Now if out of joy in their beauty they thought them gods, let them know how far more excellent is the Lord than these; for the original source of beauty fashioned them.

Or if they were struck by their might and energy, let them from these things realize how much more powerful is he who made them. For from the greatness and the beauty of created things their original author, by analogy, is seen. But yet, for these the blame is less; For they indeed have gone astray perhaps, though they seek God and wish to find him. For they search busily among his works, but are distracted by what they see, because the things seen are fair. But again, not even these are pardonable. For if they so far succeeded in knowledge that they could speculate about the world, how did they not more quickly find its Lord?

Gospel: Lk 17:26-37:
Jesus said to his disciples, “As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be on the day the Son of Man comes. Then people ate and drank; they took husbands and wives. But on the day Noah entered the ark, the flood came and destroyed them all. Just as it was in the days of Lot: people ate and drank, they bought and sold, planted and built. But on the day Lot left Sodom, God made fire and sulfur rain down from heaven which destroyed them all. So will it be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.

“On that day, if you are on the rooftop, don’t go down into the house to get your belongings, and if you happen to be in the fields, do not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever tries to save his life will lose himself, but whoever gives his life will be born again. “I tell you, though two men are sharing the same bed, it may be that one will be taken and the other left. Though two women are grinding corn together, one may be taken and the other left.” Then they asked Jesus, “Where will this take place, Lord?” And he answered, “Where the body is, there too will the vultures gather.”

A couple went to Church with their 10 year-old son. During the homily, the priest delivered a fiery sermon, “Remember, on the day of the return of the Lord, we will witness horrendous occurrences: there will be frightening movements of nature, great destruction, fire as if rain will fall from the sky, the world will be destroyed, and everything will be made new!” In the midst of these words, the young boy asked his mother, “Will there be classes?”

The end of time is not only about devastation, it is more about salvation. Thus, these occurrences should be welcomed with joy because they signal that the deliverance of the just is right around the corner. Our dream of living with God in his kingdom is about to be fulfilled. Our reward for living righteous lives as disciples of Christ is about to be received. This is indeed a time of rejoicing. But if we have merely been going with the flow of the world, our gospel text today cautions us; we could end up destroyed instead of being saved.

November 16th

St. Margaret of Scotland
St. Gertrude the Great

1st Reading: Wis 18:14-16; 19:6-9:
When peaceful stillness compassed everything and the night in its swift course was half spent, Your all-powerful word, from heaven’s royal throne bounded, a fierce warrior, into the doomed land, bearing the sharp sword of your inexorable decree. And as he alighted, he filled every place with death; he still reached to heaven, while he stood upon the earth.

For all creation, in its several kinds, was being made over anew, serving its natural laws, that your children might be preserved unharmed. The cloud overshadowed their camp; and out of what had before been water, dry land was seen emerging: Out of the Red Sea an unimpeded road, and a grassy plain out of the mighty flood. Over this crossed the whole nation sheltered by your hand, after they beheld stupendous wonders. For they ranged about like horses, and bounded about like lambs, praising you, O Lord! their deliverer.

Gospel: Lk 18:1-8:
Jesus told them a parable, to show them that they should pray continually, and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain town there was a judge, who neither feared God nor people. In the same town there was a widow, who kept coming to him, saying, ‘Defend my rights against my adversary!’ For a time he refused, but finally he thought, ‘Even though I neither fear God nor care about people, this widow bothers me so much, I will see that she gets justice; then she will stop coming and wearing me out.” And Jesus said, “Listen to what the evil judge says. Will God not do justice for his chosen ones, who cry to him day and night, even if he delays in answering them? I tell you, he will speedily do them justice. But, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

A long time ago, there was a mountain that stood majestic on a vast plain where people lived. One day, the people heard a deep rumble from within the mountain followed by a violent shaking that seemed to break the mountain apart. It created a panic. To the people watching, it was as if some monstrous giant was about to emerge out of it. Then there was a sharp convulsive tremor after which the mountain subsided into silence and, to everyone’s surprise, a mouse came out of it.

I’m sure we have heard of the English expression “labor and bring forth a mouse” The above anecdote is where it came from. This expression means with much effort we accomplish so little. This is something like we work hard for one thing and then it turned out to be a waste. But this is not so with God. When we exert effort in prayer, we accomplish more. So the lesson of the gospel today is don’t stop, don’t quit, and pray harder. God does not snub a persevering prayer. The young ones today also have a way of saying this: Pray Until Something Happens – PUSH!