Bible Diary for November 1st – 7th

November 1st

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Feast of All Saints

1st Reading: Rev 7:2–4, 9–14:
I saw another angel, ascending from the sunrise, carrying the seal of the living God, and he cried out with a loud voice, to the four angels empowered to harm the earth and the sea, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God upon their fore-heads.” Then, I heard the number of those marked with the seal: a hundred and forty-four thousand, from all the tribes of the people of Israel: After this, I saw a great crowd, impossible to count, from every nation, race, people and tongue, standing before the throne, and the Lamb, clothed in white, with palm branches in their hands, and they cried out with a loud voice, “Who saves, but our God, who sits on the throne, and the Lamb?”

All the angels were around the throne, the elders and the four living creatures; they, then, bowed before the throne, with their faces to the ground, to worship God. They said, “Amen. Praise, glory, wisdom, thanks, honor, power and strength to our God forever and ever. Amen!” At that moment, one of the elders spoke up, and said to me, “Who are these people clothed in white, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, it is you who know this.” The elder replied, “They, are those who have come out of the great persecution; they have washed, and made their clothes white, in the blood of the Lamb.”

2nd Reading: 1 Jn 3:1–3:
See what singular love the Father has for us: we are called children of God, and we really are. This is why the world does not know us, because it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children, and what we shall be has not, yet, been shown. Yet, when he appears in his glory, we know, that we shall be like him, for, then, we shall see him as he is. All who have such a hope, try to be pure, as he is pure.

Gospel: Mt 5:1–12a:
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain. He sat down and his disciples gathered around him. Then he spoke and began to teach them: Fortunate are those who are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Fortunate are those who mourn; they shall be comforted. Fortunate are the gentle; they shall possess the land. Fortunate are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied. Fortunate are the merciful, for they shall find mercy.

Fortunate are those with pure hearts, for they shall see God. Fortunate are those who work for peace; they shall be called children of God. Fortunate are those who are persecuted for the cause of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Fortunate are you, when people insult you and persecute you and speak all kinds of evil against you because you are my followers. Be glad and joyful, for a great reward is kept for you in God. For that is how this people persecuted the prophets who lived before you.

Indeed fortunate are those who cling to God despite hardships and difficulties in this world. Their reward is assured in heaven. That is why we celebrate today the feast of all saints. These are the countless people who silently observed God’s word in their lives and died in the odor of sanctity unknown to the world. They didn’t need such recognition anyway. They have the better prize… heaven.

In a world bent on trivializing the afterlife and robbing us of our hope of a better future, today’s celebration reminds us that no matter how much heaven is being denied, we believe that there are people who have gone there. They may be nameless but we celebrate their good fate here on earth. And so candles and flowers have the right to take center stage today. We celebrate that which we hope we ourselves will achieve someday.

November 2nd

Feast of All Souls

1st Reading: Wis 3:1–9:
The souls of the just are in the hands of God and no torment shall touch them. In the eyes of the unwise they appear to be dead. Their going is held as a disaster; it seems that they lose everything by departing from us, but they are in peace. Though seemingly they have been punished, immortality was the soul of their hope.

After slight affliction will come great blessings, for God has tried them and found them worthy to be with him; after testing them as gold in the furnace, he has accepted them as a holocaust. At the time of his coming they will shine like sparks that run in the stubble. They will govern nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord will be their king forever. Those who trust in him will penetrate the truth, those who are faithful will live with him in love, for his grace and mercy are for his chosen ones.

2nd Reading: Rom 6:3–9:
Don’t you know, that in baptism, which unites us to Christ, we are all baptized and plunged into his death? By this baptism in his death, we were buried with Christ and, as Christ was raised from among the dead by the glory of the Father, we begin walking in a new life. If we have been joined to him by dying a death like his, so shall we be, by a resurrection like his. We know, that our old self was crucified with Christ, so as to destroy what of us was sin, so that, we may no longer serve sin—if we are dead, we are no longer in debt to sin. But, if we have died with Christ, we believe we will also live with him. We know, that Christ, once risen from the dead, will not die again, and death has no more dominion over him.

Gospel: Jn 6:37-40:
Jesus said to the crowds: “Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day. For 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.”

Today we are praying in a special way for all those human beings whose eternal reunion with God is already assured, but who are not quite ready yet for that searing proximity with Infinite Love. Since they died with residues of selfishness in their souls, they would not feel fully attuned to God while in that state of theirs. Hence the need to purify those remnants of self-centered love. We call that temporary stage of purification the Purgatory. But we do not know how exactly such a purification is done in them. All we know is that, like any giving up of our selfishness, that purification of theirs must be painful.

Consequently, today we implore God to alleviate or shorten that purification. This is the meaning of this special day of prayers for the departed souls. Our Protestant brethren do not believe in the existence of Purgatory. If they challenge you on this most ancient belief of ours, you could quote the saying of Jesus about the sin against the Holy Spirit which will not be forgiven “either in this age or in the age to come” (Mt 12:32). This seems to imply that some sins are forgiven in the next life, doesn’t it?

November 3rd

St. Martin de Porres

1st Reading: Phil 2:5–11:
Your attitude should be the same as Jesus Christ had: Though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking on the nature of a servant, made in human likeness, and, in his appearance, found, as a man, He humbled himself by being obedient, to death, death on the cross. That is why God exalted him and gave him the name which outshines all names, so, that, at the name of Jesus all knees should bend in heaven, on earth and among the dead, and all tongues proclaim, that Christ Jesus is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Gospel: Lk 14:15–24:
Upon hearing these words, one of those at the table said to Jesus, “Happy are those who eat at the banquet in the kingdom of God!” Jesus replied, “A man once gave a feast and invited many guests. When it was time for the feast, he sent his servant to tell those he had invited to come, for everything was ready. But all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘Please excuse me. I must go and see the piece of land I have just bought.’ Another said: ‘I am sorry, but I am on my way to try out the five yoke of oxen I have just bought.’

“Still another said, ‘How can I come, when I’ve just got married? The servant returned alone, and reported this to his master. Upon hearing his account, the master of the house flew into a rage, and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly, into the streets and alleys of the town, and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ The servant reported after a while, ‘Sir, your orders have been carried out, but there is still room.’ The master said, ‘Go out to the highways and country lanes, and force people to come in, to ensure that my house is full. I tell you, none of those invited will have a morsel of my feast.”

Jesus is in a meal setting; the atmosphere is convivial. Everyone is in a good frame of mind after a good meal and the exchange is lighthearted. It is in this context that one of the guests exclaimed about the bliss enjoyed by those who will be eating in the banquet of God. He has a basis. Probably everyone was happy around the table that day sharing the meal with Jesus. Then the harsh truth of the banquet in the Kingdom of God is revealed.

It is intended for those invited but they will pass on the chance because they are too busy with their own concerns. Thus others will have a chance and they will respond to the invitation with the openness of those grateful for the opportunity given. And so silence will follow when understanding dawns on those around Jesus. For Jesus’ company is fun only to those who are open to His word.

November 4th

St. Charles Borromeo

1st Reading: Phil 2:12–18:
Therefore, my dearest friends, as you always obeyed me while I was with you, even more, now, that I am far from you, continue working out your salvation “with fear and trembling.” It is God who makes you, not only wish but also, carry out what pleases him. Do everything without grumbling, so, that, without fault or blame, you will be children of God, without reproach, among a crooked and perverse generation.

You are a light among them, like stars in the universe, holding to the word of life. I shall feel proud of you, on the day of Christ, on seeing that my effort and labor have not been in vain. And if I am being poured out, as a libation over the sacrifice, and the offering of your faith, I rejoice and continue to share your joy; and, you, likewise should rejoice and share my joy.

Gospel: Lk 14:25–33:
One day, when large crowds were walking along with Jesus, he turned and said to them, “If you come to me, unwilling to sacrifice your love for your father and mother, your spouse and children, your brothers and sisters, and indeed yourself, you cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not follow me, carrying his own cross, cannot be my disciple. Do you build a house without first sitting down to count the cost, to see whether you have enough to complete it?”

“Otherwise, if you, have laid the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone will make fun of you: ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish. And when a king wages war against another king, does he go to fight without first sitting down to consider whether his ten thousand can stand against the twenty thousand of his opponent? And if not, while the other is still a long way off, he sends messengers for peace talks. In the same way, none of you may become my disciple, if he doesn’t give up everything he has.”

Following the Lord may seem romantic as an ideal but it involves real cost. You have to be ready to give up everything for Him. And so He counsels His would-be followers to sit down first and determine whether they can pay the price of discipleship without flinching. One has to be ready to give all or not bother at all. For to follow the Lord half-heartedly will only waste the efforts made thus far. It is here therefore that the injunction to love the Lord with all our heart, with all our mind and with all our being (Deut. 6,5) becomes clear. If we do this, the crosses that come our way will have its proper place. Even our sacrifices will have meaning. We will not be daunted. We will understand it as part of discipleship.

November 5th

1st Reading: Phil 3:3–8a:
We are the true circumcised people, since we serve according to the Spirit of God, and our confidence is in Christ Jesus, rather than in our merits. I, myself, do not lack those human qualities in which people have confidence. If some of them seem to be accredited with such qualities, how much more am I! I was circumcised when eight days old. I was born of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin; I am a Hebrew, born of Hebrews.

With regard to the law, I am a Pharisee, and such was my zeal for the law that I persecuted the Church. As for being righteous according to the law, I was blameless. But once I found Christ, all those things that I might have considered as profit, I reckoned as loss. Still more, everything seems to me, as nothing, compared with the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord. For his sake, I have let everything fall away, and I now consider all as garbage, if, in -stead, I may gain Christ.

Gospel: Lk 15:1–10:
Meanwhile tax collectors and sinners were seeking the company of Jesus, all of them eager to hear what he had to say. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law frowned at this, muttering, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

So Jesus told them this parable: “Who among you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, will not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and seek the lost one till he finds it? And finding it, will he not joyfully carry it home on his shoulders? Then he will call his friends and neighbors together, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner, than over ninety-nine decent people, who do not need to repent. What woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one, will not light a lamp, and sweep the house in a thorough search, till she finds the lost coin? And finding it, she will call her friends and neighbors, and say, ‘Cel¬ebrate with me, for I have found the silver coin I lost!’ I tell you, in the same way, there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.”

Those viewed as conventional sinners are not all bad. Some have had the misfortune to belong to such company but they too had the desire for redemption. That is why tax collectors and sinners were seeking Jesus. They had found somebody who did not condemn them out rightly but listened, comforted and led them towards genuine repentance. There was someone who was willing to give them a second chance. This tenderness displayed by Jesus towards sinners ought to remind us that love is the best incentive for those who go astray to return to the fold of God. It is mercy that they want and not harsh condemnation.

November 6th

1st Reading: Phil 3:17 – 4:1:
Unite in imitating me, brothers and sisters, and look at those who walk in our way of life. For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. I have said it to you many times, and now I repeat it with tears: they are heading for ruin; their belly is their god, and they feel proud of what should be their shame. They only think of earthly things. For us, our citizenship is in heaven, from where we await the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the Lord. He will transfigure our lowly body, making it like his own body, radiant in glory, through the power which is his, to submit everything to himself. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, you, my glory and crown, be steadfast in the Lord.

Gospel: Lk 16:1–8:
At another time Jesus told his disciples, “There was a rich man, whose steward was reported to him because of fraudulent service. He summoned the steward and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? I want you to render an account of your service, for it is about to be terminated. The steward thought to himself, ‘What am I to do now? My master will surely dismiss me. I am not strong enough to do hard work, and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I will do: I must make sure that when I am dismissed, there will be people who will welcome me into their homes. So he called his master’s debtors, one by one. He asked the first debtor, ‘How much do you owe my master?’

“The reply was, ‘A hundred jars of oil.’ The steward said, ‘Here is your bill. Sit down quickly and write fifty.’ To the second debtor he put the same question, ‘How much do you owe?’ The answer was, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ Then the steward said, ‘Take your bill and write eighty.’ The master commended the dishonest steward for his astuteness: for the people of this world are more astute, in dealing with their own kind, than are the people of light.”

The gospel is cast in the negative. And if one is not discerning, he or she might think that astuteness in the service of deceit is being commended here. On the contrary, what is being presented is the technology of making friends as beneficial and may come in handy when one is in dire need. Thus we are being educated into the ways of surviving for the world to come by doing good to others, making friends and being generous.

Although our salvation is a personal quest, still a crowd behind our back would be a great help. These are the people whom we come in contact with along the way and have experienced our kindness and generosity. For even though our salvation is primarily our own concern, it takes a village for one to be saved.

November 7th

1st Reading: Phil 4:10–19:
I rejoice in the Lord because of your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me before, but you had no opportunity to show it. I do not say this because of being in want; I have learned to manage with what I have. I know what it is to be in want and what it is to have plenty. I am trained for both: to be hungry or satisfied, to have much or little. I can do all things in him who strengthens me. However, you did right in sharing my trials.

You Philippians, remember that, in the beginning, when we first preached the gospel, after I left Macedonia, you, alone, opened for me a debit and credit account, and when I was in Thessalonica, twice you sent me what I needed. It is not your gift that I value, but rather, the interest increasing in your own account. Now, I have enough, and more than enough, with everything Epaphroditus brought me, on your behalf, and which I received as “fragrant offerings pleasing to God.” God, himself, will provide you with everything you need, according to his riches, and show you his generosity in Christ Jesus.

Gospel: Lk 16:9–15:
And so I tell you: use filthy money to make friends for yourselves, so that, when it fails, these people may welcome you into the eternal homes. Whoever can be trusted in little things can also be trusted in great ones; whoever is dishonest in slight matters will also be dishonest in greater ones. So if you have been dishonest in handling filthy money, who would entrust you with true wealth? And if you have been dishonest with things that are not really yours, who will give you that wealth which is truly your own?

No servant can serve two masters. Either he does not like the one and is fond of the other, or he regards one highly and the other with contempt. You cannot give yourself both to God and to Money.” The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and sneered at Jesus. He said to them, “You do your best to be considered righteous by people. But God knows the heart, and what is highly esteemed by human beings is loathed by God.

There is nothing here on earth that cannot be used for eternal life. Consider filthy money in our gospel today. Jesus counsels His hearers to use them to make friends. It may be dirty just as a broom is dirty, but it can sweep clean the way to eternal life. Thus money if used wisely for goodness can be an avenue for salvation. Perhaps Jesus pointed out the positive use of money because this is the easiest commodity that we can give to others.

Sometimes we cannot part with our time nor can we share our talents to others because of so many engagements in life. But our money is not hampered by these considerations. It is the easiest to give in our attempts of charity. If we can only master the art of using money for our eternal benefits, we can be sure of a room in God’s mansion.