Bible Diary for November 3rd – 9th

November 3rd

St. Martin de Porres

1st Reading: Wis 11:22—12:2:
For the entire world lies before you, just enough to tip the scales, a drop of morning dew falling on the ground. But because you are almighty, you are merciful to all; you overlook sins and give your children time to repent. You love everything that exists and hate nothing that you have made; had you hated anything, you would not have formed it. How could anything endure if you did not will it?

And how could anything last that you had not willed? You have compassion on all because all is yours, O Lord, lover of life. In fact your immortal spirit is in all. And so by degrees you correct those who sin, you admonish them, reminding them how they have strayed so that, turning away from evil they may trust in you, Lord.

2nd Reading: 2 Thes 1:11—2:2:
This is why we constantly pray for you; may our God make you worthy of his calling. May he, by his power, fulfill your good purposes, and your work, prompted by faith. In that way, the name of Jesus, our Lord, will be glorified through you, and you, through him, according to the loving plan of God and of Christ Jesus, the Lord.

Brothers and sisters, let us speak about the coming of Christ Jesus, our Lord, and our gathering to meet him. Do not be easily unsettled. Do not be alarmed by what a prophet says, or by any report, or by some letter said to be ours, saying, the day of the Lord is at hand.

Gospel: Lk 19:1-10:
When Jesus entered Jericho and was going through the city, a man named Zaccheus was 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 because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree. From there he would be able to see Jesus who had 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 hurried down and received him joyfully. All the people who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to the house of a sinner as a guest.” But Zaccheus spoke to Jesus, “The half of my goods, Lord, I 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 Lord desires that we all be saved. But time and again we fail and our lives miss turning around for God. The good news is that God is compassionate and he does not will that any of us perish. He gives us second chances to understand how much we have allowed evil and wickedness to run our lives. He is giving us another time to show repentance and return to his embrace. This was how he blessed the life of Zaccheus. Disturb my life, Lord and help me see that being with you is what truly matters in life.

November 4th

St. Charles Borromeo

1st Reading: Rom 11:29-36:
Brothers and sisters:
The gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. Just as you once disobeyed God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now disobeyed in order that, by virtue of the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all. Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!

For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor? Or who has given him anything that he may be repaid?

For from him and through him and for him are all things. To God be glory forever.  Amen.

Gospel: Lk 14:12-14:
Jesus also addressed the man who had invited him, and said, “When you give a lunch or a dinner, don’t invite your friends, or your brothers and relatives, or your wealthy neighbors. For surely they will also invite you in return, and you will be repaid. When you give a feast, invite instead the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. Fortunate are you then, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the upright.”

Wealth, power, and holiness are an awkward combination. But all these three are found in the life of St. Charles Borromeo. St. Charles was born to a rich family in Italy on October 2, 1538. When his uncle rose to the papacy as Pius IV, he was made a cardinal and named archbishop of Milan while only 22 years old. Despite his youth, however, he lived with exemplary virtues. He instituted a program of discipline for the clergy, an initiative to propagate the faith, and a reform and restructuring of the missal and the Breviary. He also had schools, churches, and hospitals constructed in his diocese.

He is remembered in history as the first bishop who built a seminary for the formation of the diocesan clergy. When a pandemic occurred in Milan in 1576-1578, he sold his possessions and some church properties to help the afflicted. From his hands, St. Aloysius Gonzaga received his First Communion. Wealth and power need not be hindrances to holiness. They too can become our means if we are willing to make use of them for the glory of God. Following the counsel of Jesus in the gospel can be a first step.

November 5th

1st Reading: Rom 12:5-16ab:
Brothers and sisters:
We, though many, are one Body in Christ and individually parts of one another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them: if prophecy, in proportion to the faith; if ministry, in ministering; if one is a teacher, in teaching; if one exhorts, in exhortation; if one contributes, in generosity; if one is over others, with diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection;
anticipate one another in showing honor.

Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality. Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly.

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.”

The gospel passage gives us an insight into the “extension” of Jesus’ mission. He had original “invitees” but they turned the invite down. They did not show interest and made varied excuses. Hence, the invitation turned to those who were not part of the first plan, to partake of the great banquet in the Kingdom of God. One, however, should not miss to realize that this has a powerful message about salvation. The offer of salvation is like being invited into the banquet of God’s Kingdom. But the concept of “invitation” should be understood well.

While the invitation is freely offered, it doesn’t mean that one does not need to do anything about it anymore. It must be explicitly accepted; one must decide to say “yes” to it. Even if there is some sense of force or coercion to the invitation, assent is necessary. Just like the first invitees, everyone subsequently invited are free to refuse the invitation. This gospel story Jesus told should be enough to encourage us people today. Fortunate will be those who will heed the invitation; they will have the chance of dining with the Master. Sorry for those who will refuse; they will be deserving of the Master’s rage.

November 6th

1st Reading: Rom 13:8-10:
Brothers and sisters:
Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet, and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.

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.

The theme of Paul’s letter to the Romans today is love. And Jesus in the gospel speaks of discipleship. To be a disciple of Jesus is to love Jesus, and it is a risk to do so. There are inconveniences because there is the cross. One who follows Jesus must be willing to embrace the demands of that cross. Yet there are many of us who strive to follow Jesus get weakened in the face of our life’s crosses. Worse, there are those of us who complain. To follow Jesus is to suffer and sacrifice for Jesus. And these are not boloney sufferings and sacrifices.

These are the ones that call for abandonment and surrender. These are the ones that give us a chance to prove our faithfulness as his disciples. These are the ones that invite us to have confidence and trust in God. So what is really there for us to whine about? Are these so enormous that we can’t handle? It may be good to be reminded of a line in Gary Valenciano’s song: God won’t give us what we can’t bear. Besides, are the sacrifices demanded of us more than his, who gave up everything for our sake?

November 7th

1st Reading: Rom 14:7-12:
Brothers and sisters:
None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For this is why Christ died and came to life, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. Why then do you judge your brother or sister? Or you, why do you look down on your brother or sister? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written: As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bend before me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.

So then each of us shall give an account of himself to God.

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, ‘Celebrate 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.”

I tell those who are really close to me that my conversion point came through a song. It was in one of those Life in the Spirit Seminars (LSS) which I attended that I heard the song for the first time. I always thought that God has given up on me, but this song gave me refreshing assurances. It drained my heart and eyes of tears and made me realize how much I am loved despite my sinfulness. Here is the chorus of this song, entitled Stubborn Love, by Kathy Troccoli: It’s your stubborn love that never lets go of me.

I don’t understand how you can stay. Perfect love, embracing the worst in me. How I long for your stubborn love. The fact is that my sinfulness has driven me far away from God. It was not his fault; It was my doing. Meanwhile, he was there all the time, refusing to let go and waiting for me to recognize he was never away. What a stubborn, perfect love. It doesn’t give up and it patiently waits. I am just blessed that I did not realize it too late.

November 8th

1st Reading: Rom 15:14-21:
I myself am convinced about you, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to admonish one another. But I have written to you rather boldly in some respects to remind you, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in performing the priestly service of the Gospel of God, so that the offering up of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to boast in what pertains to God.

For I will not dare to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to lead the Gentiles to obedience by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum I have finished preaching the Gospel of Christ. Thus I aspire to proclaim the Gospel not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on another’s foundation, but as it is written: Those who have never been told of him shall see, and those who have never heard of him shall understand.

Gospel: Lk 16:1-8:
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.

It must be second-nature in man to be clever. And man knows that this ability can come in handy and help a lot in difficult times. The master commended the steward in the gospel. This was not, for sure, an approval of the fraudulent nature of his dealings with others. He was praised for being clever. He was practical and he used his head to make friends to give himself the assurance that when he finds himself in tight situations or in dire need later, there are people he can turn to. Jesus used this illustration to bring home an important point.

If we have the ability to establish ties, friendships, and networks among our fellow human beings for the sake of security and other benefits, why don’t we do it to God? If we are after what our friendship with others can give, why don’t we also run after what our friendship with God can offer? If we think that material benefits are good, we should also know that spiritual benefits are even better. I would like to presume that the Lord had this thought at the back of his mind: if we work hard to be friends with God, then we are truly clever.

November 9th

Dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica

1st Reading: Ez 47:1-2, 8-9, 12:
The angel brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water flowing out from beneath the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the façade of the temple was toward the east; the water flowed down from the southern side of the temple, south of the altar. He led me outside by the north gate, and around to the outer gate facing the east, where I saw water trickling from the southern side.

He said to me, “This water flows into the eastern district down upon the Arabah, and empties into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh. Wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live, and there shall be abundant fish, for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh. Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow; their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail. Every month they shall bear fresh fruit, for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary. Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine.”

2nd Reading: 1 Cor 3:9c-11, 16-17:
Brothers and sisters:
You are God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it, for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ.

Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.

Gospel: Jn 2:13-22:
As the Passover of the Jews was at hand, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple court he found merchants selling oxen, sheep and doves, and money-changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple court, together with the oxen and sheep. He knocked over the tables of the money-changers, scattering the coins, and ordered the people selling doves, “Take all this away, and stop making a marketplace of my Father’s house!” His disciples recalled the words of Scripture: Zeal for your house devours me like fire.

The Jews then questioned Jesus, “Where are the miraculous signs which give you the right to do this?” And Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then replied, “The building of this temple has already taken forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” Actually, Jesus was referring to the temple of his body. Only when he had risen from the dead did his disciples remember these words; then they believed both the Scripture and the words Jesus had spoken.

Every Roman Catholic bishop has a church in his title. We call this church a “cathedral” because the cathedra (Latin: chair) of the bishop, the symbol of his authority, especially his teaching authority, is there. A cathedral usually serves as the central church in a diocese. For the Holy Father, as Bishop of Rome, his cathedral is the Lateran Basilica. And because this is the Pope’s cathedral, it is called omnium ecclesiarum Urbis et orbis, mater et caput, the mother and head of all churches in Rome and in the world.

This celebration of its dedication by the whole church reminds us of the communion and oneness of the Church of Christ whose visible head in the world is the Bishop of Rome. Today then is an opportunity for us to thank the Lord for the gift of his church. This church has become our mother who nurtures us in faith, who strengthens us with the sacraments, who unites us as brothers and sisters, who prays for us, and who reminds us with unwavering commitment that our goal is heaven. In return as her children, let us love, cherish, obey, and protect her.