Bible Diary for November 6th – November 12th

November 6th

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

1st Reading: 2 Mac 7:1-2, 9-14:
It happened also that seven brothers were arrested with their mother. The king had them scourged and flogged to force them to eat the flesh of a pig which was prohibited by the law. One of them, speaking in behalf of all, said, “What do you want to find out from us? We are prepared to die right now rather than break the law of our ancestors.” At the moment of his last breath, he said, “Murderer, you now dismiss us from life, but the king of the world will raise us up. He will give us eternal life since we die for his laws.”

After this, they punished the third. He stuck his tongue out when asked to, bravely stretched forth his hands, and even had the courage to say: “I have received these limbs from God, but for love of his laws I now consider them as nothing. For I hope to recover them from God.” The king and his court were touched by the courage of this young man, so unconcerned about his own sufferings. When this one was dead, they subjected the fourth to the same torture. At the point of death, he cried out, “I would rather die at the hands of mortals, and wait for the promises of God who will raise us up; you, however, shall have no part in the resurrection of life.”

2nd Reading: 2 Thes 2:16–3:5:
May Christ Jesus, our Lord, who has loved us, may God our Father, who, in his mercy, gives us everlasting comfort and true hope, strengthen you. May he encourage your hearts and make you steadfast in every good work and word. Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the word of God may spread rapidly and be glorified everywhere, as it was with you. May God guard us from wicked and evil people, since not everyone has faith. The Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and keep you safe from the evil one. Besides, we have, in the Lord, this confidence, that you are doing, and will continue to do, what we order you. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

Gospel: Lk 20:27-38:
Then some Sadducees arrived. These people claim that there is no resurrection, and they asked Jesus this question, “Master, in the law Moses told us, ‘If anyone dies leaving a wife but no children, his brother must take the wife, and any child born to them will be regarded as the child of the deceased.’ Now, there were seven brothers: the first married, but died without children. The second married the woman, but also died childless. And then the third married her, and in this same way all seven died, leaving no children. Last of all the woman died.

On the day of the resurrection, to which of them will the woman be a wife? For all seven had her as a wife.” And Jesus replied, “Taking a husband or a wife is proper to people of this world, but for those who are considered worthy of the world to come, and of resurrection from the dead, there is no more marriage. Besides, they cannot die, for they are like the angels. They are sons and daughters of God, because they are born of the resurrection. Yes, the dead will be raised, as Moses revealed at the burning bush, when he called the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. For God is God of the living, and not of the dead, for to him everyone is alive.”

It is hard for us to imagine it, but most of the Old Testament was written by people who did not believe in a positive afterlife, namely, an eternity of bliss with God. They believed that after death everybody ends up in the Sheol, a place of darkness and gloom situated at the center of the earth. Because of this basic lack of belief in a real afterlife, the Jews had to conclude that, since God is Just, he saw to it that the good people were rewarded in this life with health, prosperity, long life, many descendants and victory over their enemies, whereas the bad people were punished in various ways.

These beliefs were held until the Greek persecution in 166 B.C of King Antiochus Epiphanus IV, who had many Jews killed for their faith, as we see in today’s first reading. This persecution opened the eyes of the Jewish people about the reality of a blessed afterlife with God. For God, they reasoned, because he is infinitely just, must perforce reward those who died for him by giving them an afterlife of bliss, not an afterlife of sadness in the Sheol.

Let us appreciate our good fortune in knowing that what awaits us is not eternal gloom but eternal glory. Let us thank God for having revealed to us what unimaginable glory awaits us. Today let us celebrate in advance the moment of our eternal reunion with God.

November 7th

1st Reading: Tit 1:1-9:
From Paul, servant of God, apostle of Christ Jesus, at the service of God’s chosen people, so that they may believe, and reach the knowledge of truth and godliness. The eternal life we are waiting for was promised from the very beginning, by God, who never lies, and as the appointed time had come, he made it known, through the message entrusted to me by a command of God, our Savior. Greetings to you, Titus, my true son in the faith we share.

May grace and peace be with you from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I left you in Crete because I wanted you to put right, what was defective, and appoint elders in every town, following my instructions. They must be blameless, married only once, whose children are believers, and not open to the charge of being immoral and rebellious.

Since the overseer (or bishop) is the steward of God’s House, he must be beyond reproach: not proud, hot-headed, overfond of wine, quarrelsome, or greedy for gain. On the contrary, he must be hospitable, a lover of what is good, wise, upright, devout and self-controlled. He must hold to the message of faith, just as it was taught, so that, in his turn, he may teach sound doctrine, and refute those who oppose it.

Gospel: Lk 17:1-6:
Jesus said to his disciples, “Scandals will necessarily come and cause people to fall; but woe to the one who brings them about. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone around his neck. Truly, this would be better for that person, than to cause one of these little ones to fall. Listen carefully: if your brother offends you, tell him, and if he is sorry, forgive him. And if he offends you seven times in one day, but seven times he says to you, ‘I’m sorry,’ forgive him.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” And the Lord said, “If you have faith, even the size of a mustard seed, you may say to this tree, ‘Be uprooted, and plant yourself in the sea!’ and it will obey you.

Ali Baba was a poor man who sometimes went in the forest to collect fuel wood. On one occasion when he was doing that, he saw a group of horsemen coming in his direction. Afraid they might be robbers, he hid himself up a tree and waited to see what they would do. They came near Ali’s tree, dismounted and approached a huge rock. Their leader then shouted, “Open, Sesame!” And at the sound of these two magical words, a door opened in the rock. The robbers went into what was a huge cave, deposited their loot there, came out and their leader shouted, “Close, Sesame!” and the rock closed.

Then they left. Curious, Ali shouted the two magical word, “Open, Sesame!” and the rock opened up. Ali went inside and saw there the accumulated loot of generations of robbers. After that, his family was never more in need. In our relationship with our spouse, we offend and are offended “seven times in one day,” as Jesus tells us in today’s gospel reading. He also tells us that the remedy to all offenses consists in the two magical words, “I’m sorry.” These two magical words open hearts full of treasures of love and warm acceptance.

November 8th

1st Reading: Tit 2:1-8, 11-14:
Let your words strengthen sound doctrine. Tell the older men to be sober, serious, wise, sound in faith, love and perseverance. The older women, in like manner, must behave as befits holy women, not given to gossiping or drinking wine, but as good counselors, able to teach younger women to love their husbands and children, to be judicious and chaste, to take care of their households, to be kind, and submissive to their husbands, lest our faith be attacked. Encourage the young men, to be self-controlled. Set them an example by your own way of doing.

Let your teaching be earnest and sincere, and your preaching, beyond reproach. Then, your opponents will feel ashamed and will have nothing to criticize. For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, teaching us to reject an irreligious way of life, and worldly greed, and to live in this world, as responsible persons, upright and serving God, while we await our blessed hope— the glorious manifestation of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus. He gave himself for us, to redeem us from every evil, and to purify a people he wanted to be his own, and dedicated to what is good.

Gospel: Lk 17:7-10:
Who among you would say to your servant, coming in from the fields after plowing or tending sheep, ‘Go ahead and have your dinner’? No, you tell him, ‘Prepare my dinner. Put on your apron, and wait on me while I eat and drink. You can eat and drink afterward.’ Do you thank this servant for doing what you told him to do? I don’t think so. And therefore, when you have done all that you have been told to do, you should say, ‘We are no more than servants; we have only done our duty.’”

In today’s first reading we see the apostle Paul giving advice to various groups of Christians. Perhaps it is revealing, in this connection, that the first advice he gives to each group seems to fit that group particularly well. Thus he exhorts Titus to tell the older men to be sober. Why this advice? Because older men can easily become alcoholics if they are not careful, as we all know. The young men, on the other hand, are told to be self-controlled.

A good advice for young males with hot blood in their veins, who are tempted to brag, to attempt dangerous stunts, run after skirts, etc. But the third group, the older women, are told to abstain from gossip. Ah, gossip! Who among us does not enjoy to pass on a juicy tidbit of gossip? And, if someone approaches us with the magic words, “Did you know what X did yesterday?” how can we restrain our curiosity? Yet gossip is the most insidious poison of charity. It destroys reputations like nothing else. And it is spread under the pretext that “I am only telling the truth about people.” We all know the expression “character assassination.” Well, gossip kills. No Christian should indulge in it or encourage it in any way.

November 9th

Dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica

1st Reading: Ezk 47:1-2, 8-9, 12:
The man brought me back to the entrance of the temple and I saw water coming out from the threshold of the temple and flowing eastward. The temple faced the east and the water flowed from the south side of the temple, from the south side of the altar. He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside, to the outer gate facing the east; and there I saw the stream coming from the south side. He said to me, “This water goes to the east, down to the Arabah, and when it flows into the sea of foul-smelling water, the water will become wholesome.

Wherever the river flows, swarms of creatures will live in it; fish will be plentiful; and the seawater will become fresh. Wherever it flows, life will abound. Near the river on both banks, there will be all kinds of fruit trees, with foliage that will not wither; and fruit that will never fail; each month they will bear a fresh crop, because the water comes from the temple. The fruit will be good to eat and the leaves will be used for healing.

2nd Reading: 1 Cor 3:9c-11, 16-17

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.

It seems that, as more and more countries experience economic development, more and more of their citizens become desk-bound in offices, laboratories and boardrooms. And, since they can now afford to buy all the delicious food they want, overweight or even obesity becomes a problem for many of them. At this point, one could ask: “What on earth is the connection between obesity and the Christian life?” A good question, for the answer is not immediately apparent.

Yet, upon reflection, it is not hard to see that excess weight usually causes high blood pressure, diabetes, shortness of breath, joint pains, and a host of other bad effects. It also shortens one’s life significantly. Because of these unhealthy consequences of being overweight, Christians should perhaps be reminded that they are God’s temple, as today’s second reading tells them, and that they have a duty to see to it that God’s temple does not fall in disrepair because of their neglect to keep themselves healthy. But this applies to all of us. If we really believe that our bodies are God’s temple, we will take good care of them with healthy food, exercise, sufficient sleep, rest and recreation.

November 10th

St. Leo the Great

1st Reading: Phlm 7-20:
I had great satisfaction and comfort on hearing of your charity, because the hearts of the saints have been cheered by you, brother. Because of this, although in Christ I have the freedom to command what you should do, yet I prefer to request you, in love. The one talking is Paul, the old man, now prisoner for Christ. And my request is on behalf of Onesimus, whose father I have become while I was in prison. This Onesimus has not been helpful to you, but now he will be helpful, both to you and to me. In returning him to you, I am sending you my own heart.

I would have liked to keep him at my side, to serve me, on your behalf, while I am in prison for the gospel, but I did not want to do anything without your agreement, nor impose a good deed upon you without your free consent. Perhaps Onesimus has been parted from you for a while so that you may have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but better than a slave. For he is a very dear brother to me, and he will be even dearer to you.

And so, because of our friendship, receive him, as if he were I myself. And if he has caused any harm, or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul, write this and sign it with my own hand: I will pay it… without further mention of your debt to me, which is you yourself. So, my brother, please do me this favor, for the Lord’s sake. Give me this comfort in Christ.

Gospel: Lk 17:20-25:
The Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was to come. He answered, “The kingdom of God is not like something you can observe, and say of it, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘See, there it is!’ for the kingdom of God is within you.” And Jesus said to his disciples, “The time is at hand, when you will long to see one of the glorious days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. Then people will tell you, ‘Look there! Look here!’ Do not go with them, do not follow them. As lightning flashes from one end of the sky to the other, so will it be with the Son of Man; but first he must suffer many things, and be rejected by this generation.

Who does not like fireworks? It is always fascinating to see the rockets, those swift shafts of light shooting through the dark sky, suddenly exploding into a multicolored ball of gigantic sparks. Well, it seems that many Christians would like Christianity to be as full of surprises and as entertaining as a fireworks show. They would want flashy things to happen, so that the rest of the world would be alerted to the fact that things are moving on the Christian scene!

Yet, nothing much seems to happen, at least nothing that can create headlines in the newspapers. Why not, they ask in dismay. The answer to these questions is given in today’s gospel reading. For at the time of Jesus some Pharisees were also on the lookout for the Kingdom of God and they expected some kind of spiritual fireworks. But Jesus tells them that there is nothing spectacular about the Kingdom of God, that it is already among them (a better translation than within). He is referring here (cf. Lk 10:9, 11; 11:2a) to the occasions when people turn to God. There is nothing spectacular in a conversion, yet it changes one’s destiny forever.

November 11th

St. Martin of Tours

1st Reading: 2 Jn 4-9:
I rejoiced greatly on meeting some of your children, who live in accordance with the truth, according to the command we have received from the Father. And now, I ask you, Lady— I write to you, not a new commandment, but that which we had, from the beginning—I ask you: let us love one another. This is love: to walk according to his commandments. And this is the commandment: that you walk in love, as you have learned from the beginning.

Many deceivers have gone out into the world, people who do not acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, who came in the flesh. They are impostors and antichrists. Take care of yourselves, that you do not lose the fruit of your labors, but receive a perfect reward. Everyone who goes beyond, and does not remain within the teaching of Christ, does not have God. The one who remains in the teaching, has both the Father and the Son.

Gospel: Lk 17:26-37:
As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be on the day the Son of Man comes. In those days people ate and drank and got married; but on the day Noah entered the ark, the flood came and destroyed them all. So it was in the days of Lot: people ate and drank, and bought and sold, and planted and built; but on the day Lot left Sodom, God made fire and sulfur rain down from heaven, which destroyed them all. So will it be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.

On that day, if you are on the rooftop, don’t go down into the house to get your belongings; and if you happen to be in the fields, do not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to save his life will lose it, but whoever gives his life will be born again. I tell you, though two men are sharing the same bed, it might happen that one will be taken, and the other left; though two women are grinding meal together, one might be taken and the other left.” Then they asked Jesus, “Where will this take place, Lord?” And he answered, “Where the body is, there too will the vultures gather.”

These texts are not intended to fill us with fear and foreboding of a capricious and judgmental God. They are timely advice not to be caught napping but to remain alert to do good with what each day offers. It is good advice not just for the end of our lives but for every day and every moment of the day. If I am ready now, I will be ready when the final judgment comes. By living consciously in the presence of God, in the ever-present now and living fully what matters most in the moment, we are not postponing what can be done today.

Far from being afraid, we will look forward to the day with anticipation, leaving totally in God‘s hands the hour of his call. In practice, too, that final call will not coincide with the end of the world but with the moment when we face our own mortality and remember what kind of life have we lived. There is no doubt that death comes at any moment. What is important is the accountability of our stewardship. How have we lived our lives? Have we made a difference in our families and communities? Or simply answering two basic questions as we make the journey through life: Have I found joy in my life? Have I given joy to others?

November 12th

St. Josaphat

1st Reading: 3 Jn 5-8:
Beloved, you do well to care for the brothers and sisters as you do. I mean, those coming from other places. They spoke of your charity before the assembled Church. It will be well, to provide them with what they need, to continue their journey, as if you did it for God. In reality, they have set out on the road, for his name without accepting anything from the pagans. We should receive such persons, making ourselves their cooperators in the work of the truth.

Gospel: Lk 18:1-8:
“In a certain town there was a judge, who neither feared God nor people. In the same town there was a widow, who kept coming to him, saying, ‘Defend my rights against my adversary!’ For a time he refused, but finally he thought, ‘Even though I neither fear God nor care about people, this widow bothers me so much, I will see that she gets justice; then she will stop coming and wearing me out.” And Jesus said, “Listen to what the evil judge says. Will God not do justice for his chosen ones, who cry to him day and night, even if he delays in answering them? I tell you, he will speedily do them justice. But, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

We all know people who won’t take no for an answer. You refuse them once, they insist. You refuse them again, they insist again. Finally, you shoo them away with a violent outburst of temper. And you think that the matter is settled. But it isn’t. The petitioners return on the next day and beg you to listen to them. You refuse again, explaining as patiently as you can why you are refusing their petition. But they ignore your explanations, merely repeating and repeating their request with a great show of despair. They even hang on to your clothes like gnats or pests.

What do you do after a while? You throw your hands in the air and grant them their request—against your better judgment, of course. But what is the alternative? Lose your mind? The parable in today’s gospel reading reflects a similar situation and presents a thoroughly annoying widow who pesters a wicked judge endlessly—until he finally gives in to save his sanity. Jesus tells us here that we must not fear to insist and importune God with our requests. If a wicked judge finally gives in to a perseverant request, how much more a kind Father?