Bible Diary for November 24th – 30th
Christ the King
Sts. Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions
1st Reading: 2 S 5:1-3:
All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “We are your bone and flesh. In the past, when Saul was king over us, it was you who led Israel. And Yahweh said to you, ‘You shall be the shepherd of my people Israel and you shall be commander over Israel.’” Before Yahweh, king David made an agreement with the elders of Israel who came to him at Hebron, and they anointed him king of Israel.
2nd Reading: Col 1:12-20:
Constantly give thanks to the Father, who has empowered us to receive our share in the inheritance of the saints, in his kingdom of light. He rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son. In him, we are redeemed and forgiven. He is the image of the unseen God, and for all creation, he is the firstborn, for, in him, all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible: thrones, rulers, authorities, powers…
All was made through him and for him. He is before all and all things hold together, in him. And he is the head of the body, that is the Church, for he is the first, the first raised from the dead, that he may be the first in everything, for God was pleased to let fullness dwell in him. Through him, God willed to reconcile all things to himself, and through him, through his blood shed on the cross, God establishes peace, on earth as in heaven.
Gospel: Lk 23:35-43:
The people stood by, watching. As for the rulers, they jeered at him, saying to one another, “Let the man who saved others now save himself, for he is the Messiah, the chosen one of God!” The soldiers also mocked him and, when they drew near to offer him bitter wine, they said, “So you are the King of the Jews? Save yourself!” Above Jesus there was an inscription in Greek, Latin and Hebrew, which read, “This is the King of the Jews.”
One of the criminals hanging with Jesus insulted him, “So you are the Messiah? Save yourself, and us as well!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Have you no fear of God, you who received the same sentence as he did? For us it is just: this is payment for what we have done. But this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “In truth I tell you, today, you will be with me today in paradise.”
Despite the mockery Jesus in reality is king. But his kingship is not like the system that we know which lords over its subjects. He is a servant whose life is dedicated to the welfare of his people. Through his sufferings on the cross he rescued us from evil, he redeemed us from our wickedness, he freed us from our sins, and he gave us life everlasting. Those who claim to be kings in this world give us benefits that last only for a while. What Jesus gives, no one matches. His are blessings that bring us to eternity. Lord, I surrender my all to you.
St. Catherine of Alexandria
1st Reading: Dn 1:1-6, 8-20:
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came and laid siege to Jerusalem. The Lord handed over to him Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and some of the vessels of the temple of God; he carried them off to the land of Shinar, and placed the vessels in the temple treasury of his god.
The king told Ashpenaz, his chief chamberlain, to bring in some of the children of Israel of royal blood and of the nobility, young men without any defect, handsome, intelligent and wise, quick to learn, and prudent in judgment, such as could take their place in the king’s palace; they were to be taught the language and literature of the Chaldeans; after three years’ training they were to enter the king’s service. The king allotted them a daily portion of food and wine from the royal table. Among these were men of Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
But Daniel was resolved not to defile himself with the king’s food or wine; so he begged the chief chamberlain to spare him this defilement. Though God had given Daniel the favor and sympathy of the chief chamberlain, he nevertheless said to Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king; it is he who allotted your food and drink. If he sees that you look wretched by comparison with the other young men of your age, you will endanger my life with the king.”
Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief chamberlain had put in charge of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days. Give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then see how we look in comparison with the other young men who eat from the royal table, and treat your servants according to what you see.” He acceded to this request, and tested them for ten days; after ten days they looked healthier and better fed than any of the young men who ate from the royal table. So the steward continued to take away the food and wine they were to receive, and gave them vegetables.
To these four young men God gave knowledge and proficiency in all literature and science, and to Daniel the understanding of all visions and dreams. At the end of the time the king had specified for their preparation, the chief chamberlain brought them before Nebuchadnezzar. When the king had spoken with all of them, none was found equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; and so they entered the king’s service. In any question of wisdom or prudence which the king put to them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his kingdom.
Gospel: Lk 21:1-4:
Jesus looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury of the temple. He also saw a poor widow, who dropped in two small coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow put in more than all of them. For all of them gave an offering from their plenty; but she, out of her poverty, gave all she had to live on.”
In one of the episodes of a noontime show in TV, the host, told the crowd that he received an anonymous gift. It was left on the doorstep of his house. What he did was to bring that gift to his program and opened it there for the whole world to see. Even I was surprised to see what the gift box contained: cold cash amounting to $14,708.77! Honestly, I found that inspiring. Someone gave a very huge amount and did not seek to be recognized at all.
But putting that into the context of the gospel today, was that impressive to God as well? It depends. If we give out of our excess, what is of less value and what is useless to us, this will not be impressive to God. The measure of real, impressive giving is the sacrifice that goes along with it. Give ‘til it hurts, we are told, because when we’re hurting what we give truly becomes a gift. It is not the gift that counts, but the giver and the motivation for giving. As one saying goes, it does not matter how much we give but how much of ourselves is given along with our gifts.
1st Reading: Dn 2:31-45:
Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar: “In your vision, O king, you saw a statue, very large and exceedingly bright, terrifying in appearance as it stood before you. The head of the statue was pure gold, its chest and arms were silver, its belly and thighs bronze, the legs iron, its feet partly iron and partly tile. While you looked at the statue, a stone which was hewn from a mountain without a hand being put to it, struck its iron and tile feet, breaking them in pieces. The iron, tile, bronze, silver, and gold all crumbled at once, fine as the chaff on the threshing floor in summer, and the wind blew them away without leaving a trace. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
“This was the dream; the interpretation we shall also give in the king’s presence. You, O king, are the king of kings; to you the God of heaven has given dominion and strength, power and glory; men, wild beasts, and birds of the air, wherever they may dwell, he has handed over to you, making you ruler over them all; you are the head of gold. Another kingdom shall take your place, inferior to yours, then a third kingdom, of bronze, which shall rule over the whole earth. There shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron; it shall break in pieces and subdue all these others, just as iron breaks in pieces and crushes everything else. The feet and toes you saw, partly of potter’s tile and partly of iron, mean that it shall be a divided kingdom, but yet have some of the hardness of iron.
As you saw the iron mixed with clay tile, and the toes partly iron and partly tile, the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. The iron mixed with clay tile means that they shall seal their alliances by intermarriage, but they shall not stay united, any more than iron mixes with clay. In the lifetime of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed or delivered up to another people; rather, it shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and put an end to them, and it shall stand forever. That is the meaning of the stone you saw hewn from the mountain without a hand being put to it, which broke in pieces the tile, iron, bronze, silver, and gold. The great God has revealed to the king what shall be in the future; this is exactly what you dreamed, and its meaning is sure.”
Gospel: Lk 21:5-11:
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 Messiah 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.
“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.” What a nightmare! No wonder many people are indeed afraid of the end of time. Despite this fear, however, the words of the Lord are certain. They will come to pass. But something should catch our attention. Although these things will occur, it will not be the end yet. So why should this happen first? From a spiritual perspective, this could be part of the final test which may be our last chance.
These horrifying events will not be trivial happenings but crucial ones for us to show the strength of our faith. Will we be running around or remain in constant prayer? Will we be complaining about the deaths that will result from the destructions or we will be assessing our lives as death is dawning for us too? Will we be hiding in fear or we go out and help people recognize that the time is near and that we are in need of repentance? Will we fall helpless and desperate or faithful and at peace?
1st Reading: Dn 5:1-6, 13-14, 16-17, 23-28:
King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his lords, with whom he drank. Under the influence of the wine, he ordered the gold and silver vessels which Nebuchadnezzar, his father, had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, to be brought in so that the king, his lords, his wives and his entertainers might drink from them. When the gold and silver vessels taken from the house of God in Jerusalem had been brought in, and while the king, his lords, his wives and his entertainers were drinking wine from them, they praised their gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.
Suddenly, opposite the lampstand, the fingers of a human hand appeared, writing on the plaster of the wall in the king’s palace. When the king saw the wrist and hand that wrote, his face blanched; his thoughts terrified him, his hip joints shook, and his knees knocked. Then Daniel was brought into the presence of the king. The king asked him, “Are you the Daniel, the Jewish exile, whom my father, the king, brought from Judah? I have heard that the Spirit of God is in you, that you possess brilliant knowledge and extraordinary wisdom. I have heard that you can interpret dreams and solve difficulties; if you are able to read the writing and tell me what it means, you shall be clothed in purple, wear a gold collar about your neck, and be third in the government of the kingdom.”
Daniel answered the king: “You may keep your gifts, or give your presents to someone else; but the writing I will read for you, O king, and tell you what it means. You have rebelled against the Lord of heaven. You had the vessels of his temple brought before you, so that you and your nobles, your wives and your entertainers, might drink wine from them; and you praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, that neither see nor hear nor have intelligence. But the God in whose hand is your life breath and the whole course of your life, you did not glorify. By him were the wrist and hand sent, and the writing set down. “This is the writing that was inscribed: MENE, TEKEL, and PERES. These words mean: MENE, God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it; TEKEL, you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting; PERES, your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
Gospel: Lk 21:12-19:
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.
“Before all these things happen” is an interesting phrase which opens the gospel text today. This means that Jesus is referring to things that will transpire before all the catastrophic and cataclysmic occurrences earlier described. At hindsight, the Lord is talking about the things that could happen every day. We do not need to wait for the great warnings and signs that are part of what may be called the final test. Every day we are already tested. Every day we are given opportunities to give witness.
Every day we are given chances to demonstrate the resolve of our faith. Every day we are given occasions to prove our commitment to Christ. There are possible persecutions everyday. And by these means we show either we are on the side of the Lord or not. These persecutions may come from enemies from different sides: from our faith opponents, from political figures, and even from our own families. And they may be few or everyone. The exhortation that Jesus gives is for us to be strong and to hold on to God no matter what: “By your patient endurance you will save your souls.”
1st Reading: Dn 6:12-28:
Some men rushed into the upper chamber of Daniel’s home and found him praying and pleading before his God. Then they went to remind the king about the prohibition: “Did you not decree, O king, that no one is to address a petition to god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king; otherwise he shall be cast into a den of lions?” The king answered them, “The decree is absolute, irrevocable under the Mede and Persian law.” To this they replied, “Daniel, the Jewish exile, has paid no attention to you, O king, or to the decree you issued; three times a day he offers his prayer.”
The king was deeply grieved at this news and he made up his mind to save Daniel; he worked till sunset to rescue him. But these men insisted. They said, “Keep in mind, O king, that under the Mede and Persian law every royal prohibition or decree is irrevocable.” So the king ordered Daniel to be brought and cast into the lions’ den. To Daniel he said, “May your God, whom you serve so constantly, save you.” To forestall any tampering, the king sealed with his own ring and the rings of the lords the stone that had been brought to block the opening of the den.
Then the king returned to his palace for the night; he refused to eat and he dismissed the entertainers. Since sleep was impossible for him, the king rose very early the next morning and hastened to the lions’ den. As he drew near, he cried out to Daniel sorrowfully, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has the God whom you serve so constantly been able to save you from the lions?” Daniel answered the king: “O king, live forever! My God has sent his angel and closed the lions’ mouths so that they have not hurt me.
For I have been found innocent before him; neither to you have I done any harm, O king!” This gave the king great joy. At his order Daniel was removed from the den, unhurt because he trusted in his God. The king then ordered the men who had accused Daniel, along with their children and their wives, to be cast into the lions’ den. Before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.
Then King Darius wrote to the nations and peoples of every language, wherever they dwell on the earth: “All peace to you! I decree that throughout my royal domain the God of Daniel is to be reverenced and feared: “For he is the living God, enduring forever; his Kingdom shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be without end. He is a deliverer and savior, working signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, and he delivered Daniel from the lions’ power.”
Gospel: Lk 21:20-28
“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you must know that the time has come when it will be reduced to a wasteland. Then, if you are in Judea, flee to the mountains; if you are in the city, leave it; and let those who are in the fields not return to the city. For these will be the days of its punishment and all that was announced in the Scripture will be fulfilled. How hard will it be for pregnant women and for mothers with babies at the breast! For a great calamity will come upon the land, and divine justice upon this people.
They will be put to death by the sword or taken as slaves to other nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled upon by the pagans until the time of the pagans is fulfilled. Then there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of perplexed nations when they hear the roaring of the sea and its waves. People will faint with fear at the mere thought of what is to come upon the world, for the forces of the universe will be shaken. And at this time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now, when you see the first events, stand erect and lift up your heads, for your deliverance is drawing near.”
The gospel passage describes the destruction of Jerusalem which has historically happened. The highlight of which was the destruction of the temple which was basically central to Jewish faith and life. The destruction was traditionally associated with the end of the world. Destructions are terrifying because of accompanying extraordinary disasters. Destruction are terrifying especially because they are attendant to loss and demise. But Jesus hints at rejoicing and not fear.
Destructions are only a portion of the whole picture and it is only on the surface. A bigger part of it is deliverance. At the end of the world is the coming of the Son of Man for liberation and freedom. It is a time of salvation for those who will endure the tribulations while remaining faithful to Christ. It should therefore be an exciting event. An image of caution though should not be entirely missed. Behind this excitement emerges a despairing portrait of punishment. Those who have not and did not recognize Christ will be sentenced. And judgment will be severe.
Anniversary of Dorothy Day’s Death
1st Reading: Dn 7:2-14a:
In a vision I, Daniel, saw during the night, the four winds of heaven stirred up the great sea, from which emerged four immense beasts, each different from the others. The first was like a lion, but with eagle’s wings. While I watched, the wings were plucked; it was raised from the ground to stand on two feet like a man, and given a human mind. The second was like a bear; it was raised up on one side, and among the teeth in its mouth were three tusks. It was given the order, “Up, devour much flesh.”
After this I looked and saw another beast, like a leopard; on its back were four wings like those of a bird, and it had four heads. To this beast dominion was given. After this, in the visions of the night I saw the fourth beast, different from all the others, terrifying, horrible, and of extraordinary strength; it had great iron teeth with which it devoured and crushed, and what was left it trampled with its feet. I was considering the ten horns it had, when suddenly another, a little horn, sprang out of their midst, and three of the previous horns were torn away to make room for it. This horn had eyes like a man, and a mouth that spoke arrogantly.
As I zatched, thrones were set up and the Ancient One took his throne. His clothing was snow bright, and the hair on his head as white as wool; His throne was flames of fire, with wheels of burning fire. A surging stream of fire flowed out from where he sat; Thousands upon thousands were ministering to him, and myriads upon myriads attended him.
The court was convened, and the books were opened. I watched, then, from the first of the arrogant words which the horn spoke, until the beast was slain and its body thrown into the fire to be burnt up. The other beasts, which also lost their dominion, were granted a prolongation of life for a time and a season. As the visions during the night continued, I saw
One like a son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven; When he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, He received dominion, glory, and kingship; nations and peoples of every language serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed.
Gospel: Lk 21:29-33:
And Jesus added this comparison, “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as their buds sprout, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I tell 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.
The film “Magnifico” was a story of a young boy who was surprisingly aware of the situation his family was in. They were poor and with that, they were financially down. One day his grandmother fell ill and he overheard that she may not last long and die; the family will need money for funeral expenses. And so began his adventure. He inquired about funeral arrangement costs. And when he learned it was something they cannot afford, he devised a plan. From a local carpentry he asked for wood scraps and slabs and innocently measured his grandmother’s length and width.
The twist in the story came when the boy met an accident and died; the coffin he prepared for his grandmother became his. Life has many uncertainties. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring and what will happen after today. And so we endeavor to give ourselves some sense of security, we make plans–educational plans, health plans, memorial plans, and other plans. But these are for our material and physical well-being. What about plans for our spiritual security in the future? Only one can give us that crucial sense of security: adherence to God’s Word because it will never abandon us. Everything will be gone, but God’s Word will remain. And this will be our key to heaven.
1st Reading: Rom 10:9-18:
Brothers and sisters:
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The Scripture says, no one who believes in him will be put to shame. There is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, enriching all who call upon him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news! But not everyone has heeded the good news; for Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed what was heard from us? Thus faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ. But I ask, did they not hear? Certainly they did; for Their voice has gone forth to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.
Gospel: Mt 4:18-22:
As Jesus walked by the lake of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come, follow me; and I will make you fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He went on from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John, in a boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. Jesus called them. At once, they left the boat, and their father, and followed him.
Joan Caroll-Cruz wrote a book entitled “Mysteries, Marvels and Miracles in the Lives of the Saints. It is a 581-page compendium of facts and recorded stories of 289 beatified and canonized saints. Concerning St. Andrew, we find this account: On the first anniversary of his martyrdom (crucified on an X- shaped cross in Greece), November 30, 61, perfumed oil flowed from his sepulcher. For years it was so abundant that at times it flowed from the tomb down to the aisle of the church. In the year 357, his relics were transferred from Greece to Constantinople; the perfumed oil continued to flow. In 1204, his bones were transferred into a silver urn.
A century later, the perfumed oil was replaced by a white granular substance. When this was applied to a blind man, his vision was restored. The miracles surrounding his relics are living testimonies that even after death, this blessed apostle continues to strengthen others’ faith in the Lord; many have been healed and many have been reconciled to Jesus. It is indeed the vocation of St. Andrew to introduce people to Jesus (cf. John 1:42; John 6:8ff; John 12:20ff). And in the course of his life he traveled to many lands facilitating an encounter between people and Jesus through his preaching. In other words, we have in St. Andrew an excellent model in evangelization. He labored with dedication for others to know Jesus. May we have the same inspiration.