Bible Diary for November 14th – 20th
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Dn 12:1-3:
At that time, Michael will rise, the Great Commander who defends your people. It shall be a time of anguish as never before since the nations first existed until this very day. Then all those whose names are written in the Book will be saved. Many of those who sleep in the Region of the Dust will awake, some to everlasting life but others to eternal horror and shame. Those who acquired knowledge will shine like the brilliance of the firmament; those who taught people to be just will shine like the stars for all eternity.
2nd Reading: Heb 10:11-14, 18:
So, whereas every priest stands daily by the altar offering repeatedly the same sacrifices that can never take away sins, Christ has offered for all times a single sacrifice for sins and has taken his seat at the right hand of God, waiting until God puts his enemies as a footstool under his feet. By a single sacrifice he has brought those who are sanctified to what is perfect forever. So, if sins are forgiven, there is no longer need of any sacrifice for sin.
Gospel: Mk 13:24-32:
Later on, in those days after that disastrous time, the sun will grow dark, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall out of the sky and the whole universe will be shaken. Then people will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And he will send the angels to gather his chosen people from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the sky. Learn a lesson from the fig tree: as soon as its branches become tender and it begins to sprout leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the time is near, even at the door. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all this has happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But, regarding that Day and that Hour, no one knows when it will come, not even the angels, not even the Son, but only the Father.
As is clearly stated in the Gospel, no one knows the day and the hour when it will come. We can only know by signs that it is near. But even then, there is no cause to be afraid. It is because the end time is not only about punishment; it is also about the renewal of creation. The old order of sin will pass away. The new order of righteousness will set in. What will perhaps sustain the most damage are the oppressive structures of sin and death. And so, those who believe in the Lord have no cause to worry. Many believers are oppressed by the fear provoked by those who use the end time as a tool to coerce people to do what they want them to do.
Am I helping ease their anxieties by pointing clearly the words of Jesus that the date and time is the Father’s secret? That if even Jesus the only begotten Son is not privy to this, others of lesser stature in front of God have no business knowing it at all. Lord, may I be courageous enough to speak your truth even in an assembly of the hostile. May I have the generosity to bear the inconveniences it will cause me if I do so. Make me ever vigilant to preserve and defend your word of life in this, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
St. Albert the Great
1st Reading: 1 Mac 1:10-15, 41-43, 54-57, 62-63:
[From the descendants of Alexander’s officers] there sprang a sinful offshoot, Antiochus Epiphanes, son of King Antiochus, once a hostage at Rome. He became king in the year one hundred and thirtyseven of the kingdom of the Greeks. In those days there appeared in Israel men who were breakers of the law, and they seduced many people, saying: “Let us go and make an alliance with the Gentiles all around us; since we separated from them, many evils have come upon us.” The proposal was agreeable; some from among the people promptly went to the king, and he authorized them to introduce the way of living of the Gentiles. Thereupon they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem according to the Gentile custom.
They covered over the mark of their circumcision and abandoned the holy covenant; they allied themselves with the Gentiles and sold themselves to wrongdoing. Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, each abandoning his particular customs. All the Gentiles conformed to the command of the king, and many children of Israel were in favor of his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath. On the fifteenth day of the month Chislev, in the year one hundred and forty-five, the king erected the horrible abomination upon the altar of burnt offerings and in the surrounding cities of Judah they built pagan altars.
They also burned incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets. Any scrolls of the law which they found they tore up and burnt. Whoever was found with a scroll of the covenant, and whoever observed the law, was condemned to death by royal decree. But many in Israel were determined and resolved in their hearts not to eat anything unclean; they preferred to die rather than to be defiled with unclean food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die. Terrible affliction was upon Israel.
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 it was, 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 scolded him, “Be quiet!” 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.
Did we realize the change of the name in the text? The people answered the blind man’s question with ‘Jesus of Nazareth’. Instead the beggar cried ‘Jesus, Son of David’. There is great difference. Nazareth was an unknown town of Galilee. ‘Son of David’ was a title of the Messiah. The blind person did not hesitate to call Jesus Messiah even if the crowd was scolding him. In fact, the renown of Jesus was growing and one could perceive already the proximity of his end.
The reaction of Jesus deserves reflection. He does not refuse the messianic title. He wants to approach the blind beggar. He ordered them to bring him and he asked: ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The answer of the blind is obvious. We do not know whether he was blind from his birth or no. But his longing for sight was deep and anxious. Jesus stresses the faith of this poor man and the miracle is done. The praise of God explodes in the general joy. As Christians, are we capable to call Jesus, Son of God, and invoke our needs with full faith?
St. Margaret of Scotland
1st Reading: 2 Mc 6:18-31:
Eleazar, one of the foremost scribes, a man of advanced age and noble appearance, was being forced to open his mouth to eat pork. But preferring a glorious death to a life of defilement, he spat out the meat, and went forward of his own accord to the instrument of torture, as people ought to do who have the courage to reject the food which it is unlawful to taste even for love of life. Those in charge of that unlawful ritual meal took the man aside privately, because of their long acquaintance with him, and urged him to bring meat of his own providing, such as he could legitimately eat, and to pretend to be eating some of the meat of the sacrifice prescribed by the king; in this way he would escape the death penalty, and be treated kindly because of their old friendship with him.
But Eleazar made up his mind in a noble manner, worthy of his years, the dignity of his advanced age, the merited distinction of his gray hair, and of the admirable life he had lived from childhood; and so he declared that above all he would be loyal to the holy laws given by God. He told them to send him at once to the abode of the dead, explaining: “At our age it would be unbecoming to make such a pretense; many young people would think the ninety-year-old Eleazar had gone over to an alien religion. Should I thus pretend for the sake of a brief moment of life, they would be led astray by me, while I would bring shame and dishonor on my old age.
Even if, for the time being, I avoid the punishment of men, I shall never, whether alive or dead, escape the hands of the Almighty. Therefore, by manfully giving up my life now, I will prove myself worthy of my old age, and I will leave to the young a noble example of how to die willingly and generously for the revered and holy laws.” Eleazar spoke thus, and went immediately to the instrument of torture. Those who shortly before had been kindly disposed, now became hostile toward him because what he had said seemed to them utter madness.
When he was about to die under the blows, he groaned and said: “The Lord in his holy knowledge knows full well that, although I could have escaped death, I am not only enduring terrible pain in my body from this scourging, but also suffering it with joy in my soul because of my devotion to him.” This is how he died, leaving in his death a model of courage and an unforgettable example of virtue not only for the young but for the whole nation.
Gospel: Lk 19:1-10:
When 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.”
The conversion of Zaccheus, is an evangelical model. Let us follow him step by step. First, we stress the humility of this man. He acknowledges his shortness. He climbs a tree, hoping to see Jesus passing, but in a hidden way. Second, let us admire his prompt answer to the words of Jesus. In fact, as soon as Jesus manifests his wish to be his guest, his reaction is beyond expectation and becomes a public confession and repentance of his sin. The great temptation of tax collectors was in fact financial corruption. After his resolution, he is overflowing with joy. This is already his full conversion.
Jesus takes a simple apology from him against the grumbling of the people and reaffirms his mission among us. Truly, Zaccheus was a son of Abraham, and salvation entered his house and his heart. As in similar cases, Jesus reminds us about his messianic purpose: “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.” The example of Zaccheus can give us hope and optimism about the possibility of conversion to justice of officials who are under the shadow of corruption. They may need loving an invitation from the apostles of Jesus today.
St. Elizabeth of Hungary
1st Reading: 2 Mc 7:1, 20-31:
It happened that seven brothers with their mother were arrested and tortured with whips and scourges by the king, to force them to eat pork in violation of God’s law. Most admirable and worthy of everlasting remembrance was the mother, who saw her seven sons perish in a single day, yet bore it courageously because of her hope in the Lord. Filled with a noble spirit that stirred her womanly heart with manly courage, she exhorted each of them in the language of their ancestors with these words: “I do not know how you came into existence in my womb; it was not I who gave you the breath of life, nor was it I who set in order the elements of which each of you is composed.
Therefore, since it is the Creator of the universe who shapes each man’s beginning, as he brings about the origin of everything, he, in his mercy, will give you back both breath and life, because you now disregard yourselves for the sake of his law.” Antiochus, suspecting insult in her words, thought he was being ridiculed. As the youngest brother was still alive, the king appealed to him, not with mere words, but with promises on oath, to make him rich and happy if he would abandon his ancestral customs: he would make him his Friend and entrust him with high office. When the youth paid no attention to him at all, the king appealed to the mother, urging her to advise her boy to save his life.
After he had urged her for a long time, she went through the motions of persuading her son. In derision of the cruel tyrant, she leaned over close to her son and said in their native language: “Son, have pity on me, who carried you in my womb for nine months, nursed you for three years, brought you up, educated and supported you to your present age. I beg you, child, to look at the heavens and the earth and see all that is in them; then you will know that God did not make them out of existing things; and in the same way the human race came into existence.
Do not be afraid of this executioner, but be worthy of your brothers and accept death, so that in the time of mercy I may receive you again with them.” She had scarcely finished speaking when the youth said: “What are you waiting for? I will not obey the king’s command. I obey the command of the law given to our fathers through Moses. But you, who have contrived every kind of affliction for the Hebrews, will not escape the hands of God.”
Gospel: Lk 19:11-28:
While people were listening to Jesus speak, he proceeded to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem and they thought that the Kingdom of God would appear there immediately. So he said, “A nobleman went off to a distant country to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return. He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins and told them, ‘Engage in trade with these until I return.’ His fellow citizens, however, despised him and sent a delegation after him to announce, ‘We do not want this man to be our king.’ But when he returned after obtaining the kingship, he had the servants called, to whom he had given the money, to learn what they had gained by trading.
“The first came forward and said, ‘Sir, your gold coin has earned ten additional ones.’ He replied, ‘Well done, good servant! You have been faithful in this very small matter; take charge of ten cities.’ Then the second came and reported, ‘Your gold coin, sir, has earned five more.’ And to this servant too he said, ‘You, take charge of five cities.’ Then the other servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your gold coin; I kept it stored away in a handkerchief, for I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding man; you take up what you did not lay down and you harvest what you did not plant.’
“He said to him, ‘With your own words I shall condemn you, you wicked servant. You knew I was a demanding man, taking up what I did not lay down and harvesting what I did not plant; why did you not put my money in a bank? Then on my return I would have collected it with interest.’ And to those standing by he said, ‘Take the gold coin from him and give it to the servant who has ten.’ But they said to him, ‘Sir, he has ten gold coins.’ He replied, ‘I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king, bring them here and slay them before me.’” After he had said this, he proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.
It is easy to discover two different teachings in the Gospel of today. First, is the appointed king, his journey and rejection and the punishment of the enemies. Second are the servants that receive the same quantity of money, but negotiate in a different way. In the first we find an allusion to the Jewish people and the destruction of Jerusalem on 70, just 40 years after the death of Jesus and his resurrection. In the second let us remark on some aspects: the trust of the king who gave the same amount to each of his servants; his demand of an accounting of their profits; his congratulations to the first and the second, with an immediate award while he condemned the third servant.
Beware of that third servant who was aware of the severity of the king; he seemed idle and irresponsible. The final moral is simple. On the one hand let us pray for the conversion of Israel. On the other, let us be careful with the gifts of nature and grace the Lord has allotted us. Now is the time to “negotiate” with confidence and eagerness, to hear at the end: ‘Well done, my good servant, come and join in your Master’s joy’.
St. Rose Philippine Duchesne
Dedication of the Basilicas of the Apostles Peter and Paul
1st Reading: 1 Mac 2:15-29:
In the meantime, the king’s representatives, who were forcing the Jews to give up their religion came to Modein to organize a sacred gathering. While many Israelites went to them, Mattathias and his sons drew apart. The representatives of the king addressed Mattathias, and said to him: “You are one of the leaders of this city, an important and wellknown man, and your many children and relatives follow you. Come now and be the first to fulfill the king’s order, as the men of Judah have already done, and the survivors in Jerusalem as well. You and your sons will be named friends of the king and the king will send you gold, silver and many other gifts.”
But Mattathias answered in a loud voice: “Even if all the nations included in the kingdom should abandon the religion of their ancestors and submit to the order of king Antiochus, I, my sons and my family will remain faithful to the Covenant of our ancestors. May God preserve us from abandoning the Law and its precepts. We will not obey the orders of the king nor turn aside from our religion either to the right or to the left.” When he finished speaking these words, a Jew came forward in the sight of everyone to offer incense on the altar that was built in Modein according to the king’s decree.
When Mattathias saw him, he was fired with zeal, his heart was stirred, and giving vent to his righteous anger, he threw himself on the Jew and cut the man’s throat on the altar. At the same time, he killed the king’s representative who was forcing the people to offer sacrifice, and then tore down the altar. In doing this he showed his zeal for the Law, as Phinehas had done with Zimri, son of Salu. Mattathias then began to proclaim loudly in the city: “Everyone who is zealous for the Law and supports the Covenant, come out and follow me!” Immediately he and his sons fled to the mountains and left behind all they had in the city. Many Jews who looked for justice and wanted to be faithful to the Law went into the desert.
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 leave not a stone within you, for you did not recognize the time and the visitation of your God.”
On the road from Bethany to Jerusalem, at the middle altitude of the Mount Olivet there is a little chapel called Dominus flevit – The Lord wept. In fact, from its window you can contemplate the whole city of Jerusalem. It is a living commemoration of the Gospel of today. Like in other moments of his life (Lk 13:34-35), Jesus shows his love for his people and the capital of Israel. His intention of gathering the Jews, like the hen gathers her young under her wings, was frustrated. Truly, Jesus put his full interest in the conversion of Israel.
This day, in his solemn entrance in the city, is the final opportunity to recognize its visit. The crowd acclaim Jesus as Messiah, but the heads of the people, once again, reject him. His success will increase their jealousy and opposition. Therefore Jesus announces once more the future destruction of the city under Roman army some years later. Can we think sometimes that Jesus cries over his Church? Can we share the feelings of his Heart? Do we find in the history of the Christian community moments of true punishment after grave infidelities? The Gospel invites us to reflect.
1st Reading: 1 Mac 4:36-37, 52-59:
Then Judas and his brothers said: “Our enemies are defeated, so let us go up and purify the Holy Place and consecrate it again.” And all the army assembled and went up to Mount Zion. On the twenty-fifth day of the month of Chislev, in the year one hundred and forty-eight (164 B.C.) they arose at dawn and offered the sacrifice prescribed by the Law on the new altar of holocausts which they had built. It was precisely at that same time and date that the pagans had profaned it before; but now they consecrated it with songs accompanied by zithers, harps and cymbals. All the people fell prostrate and blessed Heaven that had given them happiness and success.
They celebrated the consecration of the altar for eight days, joyfully offering holocausts and celebrating sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise. The front of the temple was adorned with crowns of gold and shields; the gates and the rooms had been restored and fitted with doors. There was no end to the celebration among the people, and so the profanation of the temple by the pagans was forgotten. Finally, Judas, his brothers and the whole assembly of Israel agreed to celebrate the anniversary of the consecration of the altar annually for eight days, from the twenty-fifth of the month of Chislev, in high festivity.
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.
Long ago, Jeremiah had similar expressions against the profanation of the temple by the sins of Israel. Like the bandits who, after their evil deeds, look for a cave as refuge and shelter, Israelites come to the temple looking for security against enemies, but they offend God in their deeds. God is telling to the prophet: “For your part, do not intercede for this people, nor offer a plea or petition because I will not listen when they cry to me in the time of their distress.
What is my beloved doing in my House? She is plotting evil deeds. Will your vows and the meat of your victims cleanse you from your wickedness and allow you to rejoice? The Lord had called you ‘Beautiful Green Olive Tree, fair and fruitful’…And the Lord, who planted you, has condemned you to shame. Indeed the nation of Israel and the nation of Jacob harmed themselves when they worshiped Baal and aroused my anger.” (Jer 11: 14-17) Jesus acted in a similar way. The simple people were hanging on his words, but the elders wanted to kill him. In the end they would prevail. Isn’t this a serious admonition for Christian times?
1st Reading: 1 Mc 6:1-13:
As King Antiochus was traversing the inland provinces, he heard that in Persia there was a city called Elymais, famous for its wealth in silver and gold, and that its temple was very rich, containing gold helmets, breastplates, and weapons left there by Alexander, son of Philip, king of Macedon, the first king of the Greeks. He went therefore and tried to capture and pillage the city. But he could not do so, because his plan became known to the people of the city who rose up in battle against him. So he retreated and in great dismay withdrew from there to return to Babylon.
While he was in Persia, a messenger brought him news that the armies sent into the land of Judah had been put to flight; that Lysias had gone at first with a strong army and been driven back by the children of Israel; that they had grown strong by reason of the arms, men, and abundant possessions taken from the armies they had destroyed; that they had pulled down the Abomination which he had built upon the altar in Jerusalem; and that they had surrounded with high walls both the sanctuary, as it had been before, and his city of Beth-zur. When the king heard this news, he was struck with fear and very much shaken. Sick with grief because his designs had failed, he took to his bed. There he remained many days, overwhelmed with sorrow, for he knew he was going to die.
So he called in all his Friends and said to them: “Sleep has departed from my eyes, for my heart is sinking with anxiety. I said to myself: ‘Into what tribulation have I come, and in what floods of sorrow am I now! Yet I was kindly and beloved in my rule.’ But I now recall the evils I did in Jerusalem, when I carried away all the vessels of gold and silver that were in it, and for no cause gave orders that the inhabitants of Judah be destroyed. I know that this is why these evils have overtaken me; and now I am dying, in bitter grief, in a foreign land.”
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 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 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, 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 to ask him anything else.
Is it necessary to remind ourselves that the Sadducees were the most secularized Jews, and their faith nearer to pagans? In any case, they were politically powerful. In the Gospel of today we find a controversy between them and Jesus. His teaching shall be wonderful. We are always anxious to know the other life. The case they present is perfect according to the Law of Moses and the result seems really impossible: one woman with seven husbands. Jesus points to marriage as an earthly realty.
We can extend these visions to other aspects: nourishment, work and resting, sleeping, and sicknesses. What does it mean to be like angels? This is our hope. But Jesus stresses his argument with a biblical quotation: the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob lived in the presence of God. That was also the tradition of Israel (Pharisees, and Scribes). This is also our faith and hope. As the African Tradition says: “Dead are not dead” (Les morts ne sont pas morts).