Bible Diary for November 26th – December 2nd
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Christ the King
1st Reading: Ez 34:11-12, 15-17:
Thus says the Lord god: I myself will look after and tend my sheep. As a shepherd tends his flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep, so will I tend my sheep. I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark. I myself will pasture my sheep; I myself will give them rest, says the Lord God. The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy, shepherding them rightly. As for you, my sheep, says the Lord God, I will judge between one sheep and another, between rams and goats.
2nd Reading: 1 Cor 15:20-26, 28:
Brothers and sisters: Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through man, the resurrection of the dead came also through man. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.
Gospel: Mt 25:31-46:
Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Many charlatans throughout the ages have proclaimed the end of the world. Even in our lifetime alone, too many claims of the end time have been made. Yet the world still revolves around its orbit. Perhaps toying with other people’s fears is the easiest way to access their allegiance. Besides, so many people don’t want to make the necessary preparation to welcome the end time with confidence. This make them easy targets to those who preach fire and brimstone to increase their following. The gospel speaks of charity as a sure protection to what will come in the end. Yet how many heed this counsel? Have I been mindful of the poor lately? Do they figure in my plans this coming Christmas? Perhaps it is good to include them in my gift list and really think of something that will be meaningful and useful for them during the holiday season.
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:
When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”
Gifts are not measured in terms of quantity but in the quality of the giving. That is why the widow’s offering bested the offerings of the rich not because it was bigger but because it came from a heart big enough to give all that it had without reserve. Seeing the quantity of the gift does not require much from us. But sensing the quality of the gift requires special sensitivity. Jesus is attentive to small details and we too would profit much if we are aware of these little things that make ordinary offerings such as two small coins special. Our life will be very much enriched.
St. Catherine Laboure
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 speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, “All that you see here– the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”
Human achievements today are things to behold. They are even mind-boggling sometimes. It seems that there is no limit to what the human mind can do. Even the creativity of the past left behind monuments that still excites our wonder to this very day. But the truth is, no human made monuments will ever endure. The day will come when nothing will be left of what we have once admired. And so our gospel today reminds us not to put our complete trust in the things of the world. They come and go. Only one endures, that is, the Word of God. So as we labor to refine our human capacities, so much more should we labor to refine our spiritual achievements. These are the things that will endure forever.
Anniversary of Dorothy Day’s death
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:
Jesus said to the crowd: “They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
Discipleship has its cost. It is not merely a romantic feeling that we follow the one true Son of God but we will have damages to pay in this world. This at least was disclosed by Jesus to His disciples. He did not give them a false picture as to what they were entering into. He was honest to tell them that trials would be part and parcel of their lives. The only thing He promised was His never-failing help. Amidst all of these trials, He would be there. And so a potential disciple can weigh things out before deciding to follow. Jesus recruits without duplicity. Thus one can never blame the Lord for the cost of following Him has been laid down beforehand. We follow an honest and truthful Master. We ought to be one also.
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 was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.
What is the mission of a disciple? Simply put, it is to bring people to Christ. Andrew excels in this role. Wherever we find him in the gospel according to John, he is bringing people to Christ. When John the Baptist pointed out Jesus as the Lamb of God, Andrew left John, stayed with Jesus, and became convinced that Jesus was the Messiah. What did he do then? “The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus” (Jn 1:41-42). Later, when the disciples were disheartened as to how they could feed the multitude, Andrew spotted a boy with five barley loaves and two fish, and brought him to Jesus, though he wasn’t sure how it would all add up (Jn 6:9). When the Greeks came looking for Jesus, they went to Philip and Andrew, who in turn informed Jesus about the desire of the Greeks (Jn 12:20).
1st Reading: Dn 7:2-14:
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 watched, 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:
Jesus told his disciples a parable. “Consider the fig tree and all the other trees. When their buds burst open, you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near; in the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near. Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
For those who have the sensitivity of spirit, nothing in the spiritual realm will ever catch them unawares. Even Jesus Himself tells us that signs will be there before the end will come. It is only a matter of reading and interpreting the signs correctly for one to prepare and not be surprised. It is the element of discernment that brings into the equation the importance of community. Alone, one could probably perceive the signs and thus respond accordingly.
But if one discerns with the community, there is a greater chance that the result will be better, more attuned and refined by the collective discernment of the community. Many prophets of doom have predicted the end time but they have failed miserably. They did not submit their discernment to the greater community of believers. Jesus did not disclose the secret of reading signs to an individual apostle or to a select few. He told them all so that the discernment of the time would now rest in the hands of the community and not for a privileged few.
1st Reading: Dn 7:15-27:
I, Daniel, found my spirit anguished within its covering of flesh, and I was terrified by the visions of my mind. I approached one of those present and asked him what all this meant in truth; in answer, he made known to me the meaning of the things: “These four great beasts stand for four kingdoms which shall arise on the earth. But the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingship, to possess it forever and ever.”
But I wished to make certain about the fourth beast, so very terrible and different from the others, devouring and crushing with its iron teeth and bronze claws, and trampling with its feet what was left; about the ten horns on its head, and the other one that sprang up, before which three horns fell; about the horn with the eyes and the mouth that spoke arrogantly, which appeared greater than its fellows. For, as I watched, that horn made war against the holy ones and was victorious until the Ancient One arrived; judgment was pronounced in favor of the holy ones of the Most High, and the time came when the holy ones possessed the kingdom.
He answered me thus: “The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth different from all the others; It shall devour the whole earth, beat it down, and crush it. The ten horns shall be ten kings rising out of that kingdom; another shall rise up after them, Different from those before him, who shall lay low three kings. He shall speak against the Most High and oppress the holy ones of the Most High, thinking to change the feast days and the law. They shall be handed over to him for a year, two years, and a half-year. But when the court is convened, and his power is taken away by final and absolute destruction, Then the kingship and dominion and majesty of all the kingdoms under the heavens shall be given to the holy people of the Most High, Whose Kingdom shall be everlasting: all dominions shall serve and obey him.”
Gospel: Lk 21:34-36:
Jesus said to his disciples: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Being on guard seems to evoke in some an image of tense vigilance that is tiresome. A more relaxed understanding of being on guard is being present to the moment, being mindful of what is happening in the now. It is not a tense expectation that something bad might happen during the watch. It is rather the openness to be surprised at any moment. It is like the wife who expects a husband’s return after a long separation. She fusses over her welcome preparations, but all her being is attuned to the coming of her beloved. She does her work but every moment is a possible moment for the joy of reunion. If we reframe our understanding of how to be on guard while waiting for the end time, we will have a relaxed and enjoyable time of waiting.