Bible Diary for November 13th – November 19th

November 13th

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

1st Reading: Mal 3:19-20a:
The day already comes, flaming as a furnace. On that day, all the proud and evil-doers will be burned, like straw in the fire. They will be left without branches or roots. On the other hand, the sun of justice will shine upon you who respect my name and bring health in its rays.

2nd Reading: 2 Thes 3:7-12:
You know, how you ought to follow our example: we worked while we were with you. Day and night, we labored and toiled so as not to be a burden to any of you. We had the right to act otherwise, but we wanted to give you an example. Besides, while we were with you, we said clearly: If anyone is not willing to work, neither should that one eat. However, we heard that some among you live in idleness—busybodies, doing no work. In the name of Christ Jesus, our Lord, we command these people to work and earn their own living.

Gospel: Lk 21:5-19:
While some people were talking about the temple, remarking that it was adorned with fine stonework and rich gifts, Jesus said to them, “The days will come when there shall not be left one stone upon another of all that you now admire; all will be torn down.” And they asked him, “Master, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” Jesus said, “Take care not to be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he; the time is near at hand!’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and troubled times, don’t be frightened; for all these things must happen first, even though the end is not so soon.”

And Jesus said, “Nations will fight each other and kingdom will oppose kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and plagues; in many places strange and terrifying signs from heaven will be seen. Before all these things happen, people will lay their hands on you and persecute you; you will be delivered to the synagogues and put in prison, and for my sake you will be brought before kings and governors. This will be your opportunity to bear witness.

So keep this in mind: do not worry in advance about what to say, for I will give you words and wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends, and some of you will be put to death. But even though, because of my name, you will be hated by everyone, not a hair of your head will perish. By your patient endurance you will save your souls.

Every now and then some religious fanatics announce the end of the world. What happens then? The fanatic convinces some people that Armageddon will happen at a given date in the near future, and then these people quit their jobs. Why work if the world is ending? They reason. The same situation happened in Thessalonica in Paul’s time. Some Christians had misinterpreted Paul’s thought (and a spurious letter attributed to Paul had favored this) and, convinced that the End was just around the corner, had stopped working and were living off other people.

In today’s second reading, Paul sets the record straight. The End is not imminent, he says, and those who won’t work do not deserve to eat. In our own time, many of us have to deal with relatives who have no steady job and are always asking for financial help. That poses a delicate problem of discernment. Perhaps the best way to answer such requests for help is to find work for the one requesting. If he or she keeps the job, well and good, the problem is solved. If not, this could be a sign that the one requesting is just plain lazy. Christians should not encourage laziness. Let us ask the Lord to deepen our trust in him. We don’t know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future in his tender hands. Today let us celebrate the present moment with a special gratitude.

November 14th

1st Reading: Rev 1:1-4; 2:1-5:
The Revelation of Jesus Christ. God gave it to him, to let his servants know what is soon to take place. He sent his angel to make it known to his servant, John, who reports everything he saw, for this is the word of God, and the declaration of Jesus Christ. Happy is the one who reads aloud these prophetic words, and happy those who hear them, and treasure everything written here, for the time is near. From John, to the seven churches of Asia: receive grace and peace from him who is, who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits of God, which are before his throne.

Write this, to the angel of the church in Ephesus, “Thus says the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, and who walks among the seven golden lamp stands: I know your works, your difficulties and your patient suffering. I know, you cannot tolerate evildoers, but have tested those who call themselves apostles, and have proved them to be liars. You have persevered, and have suffered for my name without losing heart. Nevertheless, I have this complaint against you: you have lost your first love. Remember from where you have fallen, and repent, and do what you used to do before. If not, I will come to you, and remove your lamp stand from its place; this, I will do, unless you repent.

Gospel: Lk 18:35-43:
When Jesus drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road, begging. As he heard the crowd passing by, he inquired what was happening, and they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was going by. Then he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” The people in front of him scolded him. “Be quiet!” they said, but he cried out all the more, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped, and ordered the blind man to be brought to him; and when he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the man said, “Lord, that I may see!” Jesus said, “Receive your sight, your faith has saved you.” At once the blind man was able to see, and he followed Jesus, giving praise to God. And all the people who were there also praised God.

There was once a young king who was as kind as he was handsome. One day he spotted a dirty young beggar girl, fell in love with her, had her brought to the palace and ordered that she be cleaned up and dressed in rich clothes. Then he visited her once a year, always asking her the same question: “What do you want me to give you?” Each year the young girl would ask for something of increasing value: a new set of clothes, a gold ring, a diamond tiara, a castle, and so on, her requests getting bolder and bolder.

But each time the king would answer sadly: “That is too little. I wish to give you much more. Maybe next year…” This continued for 6 years, finally, on the seventh interview with the young king, she looked deeply into his eyes and said: “What I really want, Your Majesty, is you.” It was the correct answer. If Jesus appeared to you one of these days and asked you what he asked the blind man of Jericho: “What do you want me to do for you?” Would you be honestly able to say: “What I really want more than anything in the world is to be with you, Lord”?

November 15th

St. Albert the Great

1st Reading: Rev 3:1-6, 14-22:
Write this, to the angel of the church in Sardis, … I know your worth: you think you live, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen that which is not already dead. For I have found your works to be imperfect in the sight of my God. … If you do not repent, I will come upon you, like a thief, at an hour you least expect. … Let anyone who has ears, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.” Write this, to the angel of the church in Laodicea, … I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would, that, you were cold or hot!

You are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold; so I will spit you out of my mouth. You think you are rich, and have piled up so much, that you need nothing, but you do not realize, that you are wretched, and to be pitied; poor, blind and naked. … Look, I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my call, and open the door, I will come in to you, and have supper with you, and you, with me. I will let the victor sit with me, on my throne, just as I was victorious, and took my place with my Father, on his throne. Let anyone who has ears, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Gospel: Lk 19:1-10:
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man named Zaccheus lived there. He was a tax collector and a wealthy man. He wanted to see what Jesus was like, but he was a short man and could not see him because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree. From there he would be able to see Jesus, who was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, come down quickly, for I must stay at your house today.”

So Zaccheus climbed down and received him joyfully. All the people who saw it began to grumble, and said, “He has gone as a guest to the house of a sinner.” But Zaccheus spoke to Jesus, “Half of what I own, Lord, I will give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay him back four times as much.” Looking at him Jesus said, “Salvation has come to this house today, for he is also a true son of Abraham. The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”

We all remember that in the Second Creation Story about the fall of Adam and Eve, the snake promised them that, if they ate of the forbidden fruit, they would become “like gods,” in the words of the snake. Such a glorious goal seemed desirable indeed, and they eagerly agreed to the snake’s suggestion. And why not? What is wrong with wanting to be like gods? Nothing, actually. In fact, as we learn from today’s first reading, making gods of Adam and Eve had been all along God’s secret dream for them—had they first refused the snake’s offer.

As Christ says: “I will let the victor sit with me on my throne.” But the radical difference of perspective here is that Christ makes us “like gods” as an act of unmerited kindness, as pure grace, whereas the trouble with Adam and Eve was that they wanted to be “like gods” on their own initiative. They wanted to seize divinity by force, instead of receiving it as a gift. God has not changed. If we try to be happy without him, it will not work. He is our only happiness, and his dream is to share his throne with us.

November 16th

St. Margaret of Scotland
St. Gertrude

1st Reading: Rev 4:1-11:
After this, I looked up, to the wall of the sky, and saw an open door. The voice which I had first heard speaking to me, like a trumpet, said, “Come up here and I will show you what will come in the future.” … There, in heaven, was a throne, and one sitting on it. … In a circle, around the throne, are twenty-four thrones, and seated on these, are twenty-four elders, dressed in white clothes, with golden crowns on their heads. … Around and beside the throne, stand four living creatures, …

The first living creature is like a lion, the second, like a bull; the third has the face of a man, and the fourth looks like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures has six wings, full of eyes, all around as well as within; day and night, they sing without ceasing, … Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to the one on the throne, … the twenty-four elders fall down before him, and worship the one who lives for ever and ever.

Gospel: Lk 19:11-28:
Jesus went on to tell them a parable. He said, “A man of noble birth went to a distant country in order to be crowned king, after which he planned to return home. Before he left, he summoned ten of his servants and gave them ten pounds of silver. He said, ‘Put this money to work until I get back.’ But his compatriots, who disliked him, sent a delegation after him with this message, ‘We do not want this man to be our king.’ He returned, however, appointed as king. At once he sent for the servants, to whom he had given the money, …

The first came in, and reported, ‘Sir, your pound of silver has earned ten more pounds of silver.’ … The second reported, ‘Sir, your pound of silver earned five more pounds of silver.’ … The third came in, and said, ‘Sir, here is your money, which I hid for safekeeping. I was afraid of you, for you are an exacting person … The master replied, ‘You worthless servant, I will judge you by your own words! … Then the master said to those standing by, ‘Take from him that pound, and give it to the one with ten pounds.’ … ‘I tell you, everyone who has will be given more; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. …

One cannot help but think highly, with tears, of the courage of the mother and her seven sons in the First Reading. Theirs was an ordeal extremely difficult to bear. But they possessed a faith so strong to bend. Even with the promise of safety and friendship benefits, they were not swayed. The mother even faced the persecution with joy. What happened? They faced a test of allegiance. They faced a test of friendship. Either they please the earthly king and displease the heavenly king, or either they obey the earthly king and disobey the heavenly king.

But the mother knew and she told her sons that only to the Creator of life should they submit their obedience. So they chose the heavenly king, to make him happy and to make him proud. The gospel parable is instructive of the same. The king in the parable is God, the heavenly king. We must please him. We must make him happy and proud but this time by making use of the treasures he entrusted to us. May we have the same resolve as the mother and her seven sons and the good servants to please God above all and in everything that we do in life.

November 17th

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

1st Reading: Rev 5:1-10:
Then, I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne, a scroll, written on both sides, sealed with seven seals. A mighty angel exclaimed, in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open this and break the seals?” But no one in heaven or on earth, or in the netherworld, was found able to open the book and read it. I wept much, when I saw that no one was found worthy to open the book and read it. Then, one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Look, the lion of the tribe of Judah, the shoot of David, has conquered; he will open the book of the seven seals.”

And I saw next to the throne, with its four living creatures, and the twenty-four elders, a Lamb, standing, although it had been slain. I saw him with seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God, sent out to all the earth. The Lamb moved forward, and took the book from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. When he took it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders bowed before the Lamb.

They all held in their hands, harps, and golden cups full of incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones. This is the new song they sang: You are worthy to take the book and open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood, you purchased, for God, people, of every race, language and nation; and you made them a kingdom, and priests for our God, and they shall reign over the land.

Gospel: Lk 19:41-44:
When Jesus had come in sight of the city, he wept over it, and said, “If only today you knew the ways of peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Yet days will come upon you, when your enemies will surround you with barricades, and shut you in, and press on you from every side. And they will dash you to the ground and your children with you, and not leave stone upon stone within you, for you did not recognize the time and the visitation of your God.”

Jesus is now on the last stage of his mission. He approaches Jerusalem, which will be the scene for the last great act of his life – his passion, death and resurrection. From here, too, will rise up the new community founded in his name, commissioned to continue the work he had started. As he approaches the city, he weeps over its tragic end. He implies that, if the city had received him as Lord and King, it might not have met the fate that was in store for it. Many failed to recognize him God‘s visible presence coming to visit them.

They were blinded by the power of the religious and cultural system. They gave their allegiance to their own rules and beliefs rather than to Jesus who was offering a different image of God – not a judgmental God but a God of compassion and mercy. Jesus had called for a change of heart, a whole change of mindset from the familiar to the uncertain. Such a movement is not easy; it requires the need to pursue the inner journey, to listen to the inner restlessness, to become familiar with the deepest desires of the heart, to be deliberately open to the gentle breath of the Spirit.  Only in that way can we recognize  the time of God‘s intervention on our behalf. We miss his active presence in our lives when we are more caught by our own cultural, ideological and religious blindness.

November 18th

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne
Dedication of the Basilicas of the Apostles Peter and Paul

1st Reading: Rev 10:8-11:
And the voice I had heard from heaven, spoke again, saying to me, “Go near the angel who stands on the sea and on the land, and take the small book open in his hand.” So, I approached the angel and asked him for the small book; he said to me, “Take it and eat; although it be sweet as honey in your mouth, it will be bitter to your stomach.” I took the small book from the hand of the angel, and ate it. It was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, it turned bitter in my stomach. Then, I was told, “You must, again, proclaim God’s words, about many peoples, nations, tongues and kings.”

Gospel: Lk 19:45-48:
Then Jesus entered the temple area and began to drive out the merchants. And he said to them, “God says in the Scriptures, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have turned it into a den of robbers!” Jesus was teaching every day in the temple. The chief priests and teachers of the law wanted to kill him, and the elders of the Jews as well, but they were unable to do anything, for all the people were listening to him and hanging on his words.

Jesus had no problem with those coming to the Temple to buy animals for the sacrifices needed and to change their Roman coins into acceptable Jewish currency (shekels) to make their contributions to the Temple. What he objected to was that this business was being carried out inside God‘s house. What made the transaction dubious was the priests‘ connivance with the business practices and, hence, they would certainly have profited from it.

Not surprisingly, the chief priests and the scribes – especially those who might have been involved in what must have been a lucrative business – were plotting how to get rid of Jesus who was upstaging their authority and accusing them of hypocrisy, greed and corruption. The chief priests, as members of the ruling Jewish council, the Sanhedrin, wielded great authority. But it was not going to be easy as the ordinary people continued to flock to Jesus.

Jesus is an example of the true prophet. He speaks as a messenger of God and is indeed God‘s own Son. He stands as a counter-witness to all that is against truth, love and justice and as such inevitably incurs the anger and hostility of those who have power based on self-interest and corruption. The Church is called on to continue that mission of witness to God‘s reign. Her only concern must be always to speak the truth in love. God will take care of the rest.

November 19th

1st Reading: Rev 11:4-12:
These are the two olive trees, and the two lamps, which are before the Lord of the earth. If anyone intends to harm them, fire will come out of their mouths, to devour their enemies: this is how whoever intends to harm them will perish. They have the power to close the sky, and hold back the rain, during the time of their prophetic mission; they also have the power to change water into blood, and punish the earth, with a thousand plagues, any time they wish. But when my witnesses have fulfilled their mission, the beast that comes up from the abyss, will make war upon them, and will conquer and kill them.

Their dead bodies will lie in the square of the great city, which the believers figuratively call Sodom, or Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. … Then, the inhabitants of the earth will rejoice, congratulate one another, and exchange gifts among themselves, because these two prophets were a torment to them. But after those three and a half days, a spirit of life, coming from God, entered them. They, then, stood up, and those who looked at them were seized with great fear. A loud voice from heaven called them, “Come up here.” So they went up to heaven, in the midst of the clouds, in the sight of their enemies.

Gospel: Lk 20:27-40:
Then some Sadducees arrived. These people claim that there is no resurrection, and they asked Jesus this question, “Master, in the law Moses told us, ‘If anyone dies leaving a wife but no children, his brother must take the wife, and any child born to them will be regarded as the child of the deceased.’ Now, there were seven brothers: the first married, but died without children. The second married the woman, but also died childless. And then the third married her, and in this same way 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 a wife? For all seven had her as a wife.” And Jesus replied, “Taking a husband or a 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 are sons and daughters of God, because they are born of the resurrection.

Yes, the dead will be raised, as Moses revealed at the burning bush, when he called the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. For God is God of the living, and not of the dead, for to him everyone is alive.” Some teachers of the law then agreed with Jesus, “Master, you have spoken well.” They didn’t dare ask him anything else.

Many of our Protestant brethren object to the Catholic practice of praying through the saints’ intercession. They ask: “How can the saints be of any help, since they are dead?” And then they quote a verse found in John’s gospel: “This is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day” (Jn 6:40). These Protestants conclude that the saints have not yet been raised.

Consequently, how can they intercede for us? To this objection we can answer many things. First, the Catholic doctrine is that the death of an individual is followed by that individual’s soul being immediately judged by Christ in a particular judgment which determines that soul’s eternal destiny. At the end of time there will be a raising of bodies (what Jesus refers to in John’s gospel text). Meanwhile the soul of the saints can intercede for us in heaven (cf. CCC 1021-2. 1038, 1040). Second, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is not a God of dead people but of living people, who can certainly intercede for us.