Bible Diary for November 8th – 14th
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Wis 6:12–16:
Wisdom is luminous and never tarnished; she willingly lets herself be seen by those who love her, and known by those who look for her. She hastens to meet those who long for her. Seek her in the morning and you will not be disappointed; you will find her sitting at your door. To meditate on Wisdom is understanding fully grown; whoever is on the watch for her will be free of anxiety. She goes in search of those who are worthy of her, graciously meets them on the way and is present in their every thought.
2nd Reading: 1 Thes 4:13–18:
Brothers and sisters, we want you not to be mistaken about those who are already asleep, lest you grieve as do those who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose; it will be the same for those who have died in Jesus. God will bring them together with Jesus and for his sake. By the same word of the Lord we assert this: those of us who are to be alive at the Lord’s coming will not go ahead of those who are already asleep.
When the command by the archangel’s voice is given, the Lord himself will come down from heaven, while the divine trumpet call is sounding. Then those who have died in the Lord will rise first; as for us who are still alive, we will be brought along with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the celestial world. And we will be with the Lord forever. So, then comfort one another with these words.
Gospel Mt 25:1-13:
Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.
“The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
To meditate on Wisdom is understanding fully grown; whoever is on the watch for her will be free of anxiety. Stressed out? That’s because we rely so much on ourselves. Our security and satisfaction is in God alone. Taking time to pray and reflect on God’s Word is a real necessity for our survival. Let us commit to pray with the Word of God regularly.
Feast of the 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 eastwards. 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:
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 home!” 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 you will 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.
The basilica of Saint John of Lateran in Rome is considered the cathedral of Catholic Christianity, where the first Christian emperor, Constantine, was baptized. Through the Gospel we reflect on the true meaning of our churches and shrines. First, we have to avoid any kind of defilement that converts the temple into a marketplace. We can understand the trade in Jerusalem temple because of the Jewish worship – oxen, doves, and money-changer. We can find excuses for the needs of our Christian worship, but easily around our temples, markets can increase in alarming ways. Let us apply the prophetic words of the Psalm to our behavior: “Zeal for your House devours me as fire” (69: 10).
The final discussion with the Jews is full of insights. The sign proposed by Jesus is provocative: the destruction of the temple and the promise of reconstruction in three days seems absurd. We are happier than Jews and disciples at this moment. We know the Resurrection of Jesus and we easily understand the temple as the symbol of this body and the Church as his spiritual dwelling. Our duty now is to increase our faith and to prepare in hope our sharing in Christ’s resurrection in the heavenly Jerusalem.
St. Leo the Great
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.
St. Martin of Tours
1st Reading: Ti 3:1-7
Remind them to be under the control of magistrates and authorities,* to be obedient, to be open to every good enterprise. They are to slander no one, to be peaceable, considerate, exercising all graciousness toward everyone. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, deluded, slaves to various desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful ourselves and hating one another.
But when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.
Gospel: Lk 17:11-19
On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus passed through Samaria and Galilee, and as he entered a village, ten lepers came to meet him. Keeping their distance, they called to him, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” Jesus said to them, “Go, and show yourselves to the priests.” Then, as they went on their way, they found they were cured.
One of them, as soon as he saw that he was cleansed, turned back, praising God in a loud voice; and throwing himself on his face before Jesus, he gave him thanks. This man was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked him, “Were not all ten healed? Where are the other nine? Did none of them decide to return and give praise to God, but this foreigner?” And Jesus said to him, “Stand up and go your way; your faith has saved you.”
After the healing of the ten lepers, the focus narrows to one of the ten, who alone turns back glorifying God and prostrating himself at Jesus‘ feet thanking him. Only after he prostrates himself in thanksgiving do we learn that the one who has turned back in this borderland is a Samaritan. Samaritans were the unwelcome outsiders of Jesus‘ day, and we can think about unwanted refugees or overseas contract workers today. These unappealingly different and unwelcome outsiders, along with outsiders, generally, are received positively by Jesus.
The story of the grateful Samaritan offers us another image of who and what matters to Jesus and should, therefore, matter to us. Cleansing of lepers is an identifying marker for Jesus‘ mission in 7:22: “Go and tell John . . . the lepers are cleansed.” There is no doubt something to be understood here about the people who live on the margins of our communities, who are treated as invisible or unwanted because of how they look or who they are or where they come from. Jesus clearly notices and loves them and calls us to do the same.
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.
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
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?
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:
Jesus told them a parable, to show them that they should pray continually, and not lose heart. He said, “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?