Bible Diary for October 10th – 16th
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Wis 7:7-11:
I prayed and understanding was given to me; I asked earnestly and the spirit of Wisdom came to me. I preferred her to scepters and thrones and I considered wealth as nothing compared with her. I preferred her to any jewel of inestimable value, since gold beside her is nothing but a few grains of sand, and silver but mud. I loved her more than wealth and beauty and even preferred her to light, because her radiance never dies. She brought with her all other good things, untold riches in her hands.
2nd Reading: Heb 4:12-13:
For the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword. It pierces to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and judges the intentions and thoughts of the heart. All creation is transparent to Him; everything is uncovered and laid bare to the eyes of Him to whom we render account.
Gospel: Mk 10:17-30:
Just as Jesus was setting out on his journey again, a man ran up, knelt before him and asked, “Good Master, what must I do to have eternal life?” Jesus answered, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: Do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not cheat, honor your father and mother.” The man replied, “I have obeyed all these commandments since my childhood.”
Then Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him and he said, “For you, one thing is lacking. Go, sell what you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow me.” On hearing these words, his face fell and he went away sorrowful for he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were shocked at these words, but Jesus insisted, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
They were more astonished than ever and wondered, “Who, then, can be saved?” Jesus looked steadily at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God; all things are possible with God.” Peter spoke up and said, “We have given up everything to follow you.” Jesus answered, “Truly, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters, or father or mother, or children, or lands for my sake and for the Gospel, who will not receive his reward. I say to you: even in the midst of persecution he will receive a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and lands in the present time and in the world to come eternal life.“
Our possessions are blessings from God especially material possessions acquired honestly. It is but natural that we feel a certain closeness to these because they remind us of our efforts, in order to acquire them. Having them is already a blessing; little do we know that divesting them from ourselves will result to even greater blessings. The capacity to leave them behind ultimately rests on what we value most. Are we ready to enjoy spiritual blessings and delights in lieu of the material? The challenge is for us to get ready so that when the invitation of the Lord comes, we are ready.
How do I look at my possessions? If I use them well, I exercise dominion and control over them. If I keep them, fearing that they will diminish, I am possessed by them, and therefore letting go would be difficult. Perhaps I need to check myself today with regard to how I behave regarding my possessions in life. Lord, grant me the grace to take genuine delight in the fruits of my labor. May I find satisfaction in using them, the generosity to share them, and the magnanimity to let go of them when a higher calling beckons me in my life. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
St. John XXII
1st Reading: Rom 1:1-7:
From Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, an apostle called and set apart for God’s Good News, the very promises he foretold through his prophets in the sacred Scriptures, regarding his Son, who was born in the flesh a descendant of David, and has been recognized as the Son of God endowed with Power, upon rising from the dead through the Holy Spirit. Through him, Jesus Christ, our Lord, and for the sake of his Name, we received grace and mission in all the nations, for them to accept the faith. All of you, the elected of Christ, are part of them, you, the beloved of God in Rome, called to be holy: May God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, give you grace and peace.
Gospel: Lk 11:29-32:
As the crowd increased, Jesus spoke the following words, “People of the present time are troubled people. They ask for a sign, but no sign will be given to them except the sign of Jonah. As Jonah became a sign for the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be a sign for this generation. The Queen of the South will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and here there is greater than Solomon. The people of Nineveh will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for Jonah’s preaching made them turn from their sins, and here there is greater than Jonah.”
Is it good to ask for signs and miracles? Should it be a temptation of the Lord’s might? Jesus is disappointed with his generation, always looking for signs and never believing. Even Paul wrote that Jews were looking for signs (1 Cor 1: 22). On our part, it is better to avoid the temptation of the Lord, accepting our actions and their consequences with humility. This gives us an occasion to put another question: do you think that Jesus was humble?
Of course, we remember his statement: “I am humble and meek in my heart” (Mt 11: 28). However, in the Gospel of today Jesus tells us that he is greater than Jonah and wiser than Solomon. Jesus, in his humility, is conscious of his mission and teaching. In both he is superior to prophets and kings. Why? They were simply sent by God, with many weaknesses. Jesus alone is the Son of the Father, whose words and deeds bring salvation to the entire world.
1st Reading: Rom 1:16-25:
For I am not ashamed at all of this Good News; it is God’s power saving those who believe, first the Jews, and then the Greeks. This Good News shows us the saving justice of God; a justice that saves exclusively by faith, as the Scripture says: The upright one shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and injustice of those who have silenced the truth by their wicked ways. For everything that could have been known about God was clear to them: God himself made it plain. Because his invisible attributes—his everlasting power and divinity—are made visible to reason by means of his works since the creation of the world.
So they have no excuse, for they knew God and did not glorify him as was fitting, nor did they give thanks to him. On the contrary, they lost themselves in their reasoning and darkness filled their minds. Believing themselves wise, they became foolish: they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for the likes of mortal human beings, birds, animals and reptiles. Because of this God gave them up to their inner cravings; they did shameful things and dishonored their bodies. They exchanged God’s truth for a lie; they honored and worshiped created things instead of the Creator, to whom be praise for ever, Amen!
Gospel: Lk 11:37-41:
As Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to have a meal with him. So he went and sat at table. The Pharisee then wondered why Jesus did not first wash his hands before dinner. But the Lord said to him, “So then, you Pharisees, you clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside yourselves you are full of greed and evil. Fools! He who made the outside, also made the inside. But according to you, by the mere giving of alms everything is made clean.”
The Gospel of today seems very simple, but it is very deep. We deal here with the true nature of morality. What does the Lord expect from us: external formalities or internal attitudes? To wash the hands before dinner is a tradition added to the Law prescriptions. Pharisees were very observant of these. It was not a hygienic practice as we use it today. It was rather a sanctification of the meal. Jesus doesn’t do the ritual. The polemic is engaged.
The Lord explains the motive of his behavior. The Creator of our souls looks at the deepest truth of ourselves and doesn’t care much of our hands. This is an evangelical lesson we must recall very often. We are so much accustomed to the precise devotions in order to obtain specific graces. Jesus wants to free us from this spiritual narrowness. Will we enter in the true freedom of the children of God? As for the spirit of alms, Jesus gave similar teachings on the humility and discretion in order to be considered by the Father.
1st Reading: Rom 2:1-11:
Therefore, you have no excuse, whoever you are, if you are able to judge others. For in judging your neighbor, you condemn yourself, for you practice what you are judging. We know that the condemnation of God will justly reach those who commit these things, and do you think that by condemning others you will escape from the judgment of God, you who are doing the same? This would be taking advantage of God and his infinite goodness, patience and understanding, and not to realize that his goodness is in order to lead you to conversion.
If your heart becomes hard and you refuse to change, then you are storing for yourself a great punishment on the day of judgment, when God will appear as just judge. He will give each one his due, according to his actions. He will give everlasting life to those who seek glory, honor and immortality and persevere in doing good. But anger and vengeance will be the lot of those who do not serve truth but injustice. There will be suffering and anguish for everyone committing evil, first the Jew, then the Greek. But God will give glory, honor and peace to whoever does good, first the Jew then the Greek, because one is not different from the other before God.
Gospel: Lk 11:42-46:
“A curse is on you, Pharisees! To the Temple you give a tenth of all, including mint and rue and the other herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. These ought to be practiced, without neglecting the other obligations. A curse is on you, Pharisees, for you love the best seats in the synagogues and to be greeted in the marketplace.
A curse is on you for you are like tombstones of the dead which can hardly be seen; people don’t notice them and make themselves unclean by stepping on them.” Then a teacher of the Law spoke up and said, “Master, when you speak like this, you insult us, too.” And Jesus answered, “A curse is on you also, teachers of the Law. For you prepare unbearable burdens and load them on the people, while you yourselves don’t move a finger to help them.”
The Gospel of today completes the Gospel of yesterday. We all have known persons with this scrupulous style of doing. On the one hand, they don’t forget any detail of the abundant Jewish traditions. On the other, as Jesus says, they neglect justice and love. But Jesus claims both details and attitudes. But there is another secret pleasance in the Pharisee souls: to take the best seats in the synagogues and to be greeted in the marketplace. Jesus often points out this lack of humility on the part of these pious Jewish.
Their true heart abides hidden within, but expands with spiritual corruption. The reproach to the teachers of the Law is similar. Truly, they don’t share the burden of the Law with the simple people. The spirit of the Pharisees and Rabbis is however so widespread. I guess these are the classical temptations of ministers and religious communities. More than the water at our hands, the words of Jesus in our hearts purify our consciences and practices.
St. Callistus I
1st Reading: Rom 3:21-30:
But now it has been revealed altogether apart from the Law, as it was already foretold in the Law and the Prophets: God makes us righteous by means of faith in Jesus Christ, and this is applied to all who believe, without distinction of persons. Because all have sinned and all fall short of the glory of God; and all are graciously forgiven and made righteous through the redemption effected in Christ Jesus. For God has given him to be the victim whose blood obtains us forgiveness through faith. So God shows us how he makes us righteous.
Past sins are forgiven which God overlooked till now. For now he wants to reveal his way of righteousness: how he is just and how he makes us righteous through faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of our pride? It is excluded. How? Not through the Law and its observances, but through another law which is faith. For we hold that people are in God’s grace by faith and not because of all the things ordered by the Law. Otherwise, God would be the God of the Jews; but is he not God of pagan nations as well? Of course he is, for there is only one God and he will save by faith the circumcised Jews as well as the uncircumcised nations.
Gospel: Lk 11:47-54:
A curse is on you, for you build monuments to the prophets your ancestors killed. So you approve and agree with what your ancestors did. Is it not so? They got rid of the prophets, and you build monuments to them! For that reason the wisdom of God also said: I will send prophets and apostles and these people will kill and persecute some of them. But the present generation will have to answer for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was murdered between the altar and the Sanctuary.
Yes, I tell you, the people of this time will have to answer for them all. “A curse is on you, teachers of the law, for you have taken the key of knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you prevented others from entering.” As Jesus left that place, the teachers of the law and the Pharisees began to harass him, asking him endless questions, setting traps to catch him in something he might say.
Let us begin with a clarification. Where have we in the Bible the allusion to the first martyr – Abel – and to the last one–Zechariah? Abel and the voice of his blood are in Gen 4: 8-10; the murder of Zechariah is in the second book of Chr 24: 20-22. So we can say that the history of Israel is the drama of many martyrs. The summit of this bloody itinerary will be the murder of Jesus in Mount Calvary; later, the deacon, St Stephen, will become the first Christian Martyr. All these instances are always in Jerusalem. But why did Jesus say that the “present generation” will have to answer for the blood of all prophets?
Let us remember the terrible siege of Jerusalem by Roman troops, the destruction of the Temple and the dispersion of the people, in the year 70. Really this generation suffered in a singular way. The conversion of the Jewish people is prophesied by Paul. In history we always find Jews who became Christians. Teresa of Avila had Jewish ancestors while Edith Stein was a Jew. For the present, in which we celebrate Teresa as Doctor of the Church tomorrow, we are invited to pray for this deep encounter in peace.
St. Teresa of Avila
1st Reading: Rom 4:1-8:
Let us consider Abraham, our father in the flesh. What has he found? If Abraham attained righteousness because of his deeds, he could be proud. But he cannot be this before God. Because Scripture says: Abraham believed God who took it into account and held him to be a just man. Now, when someone does a work, salary is not given as a favor, but as a debt that is paid. Here, on the contrary, someone who has no deeds to show but believes in Him who makes sinners righteous before him: such faith is taken into account and that person is held as righteous. David congratulates in this way those who become righteous by the favor of God, and not by their actions: Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven and whose offenses are forgotten; blessed the one whose sin God does not take into account!
Gospel: Lk 12:1-7:
Meanwhile, such a numerous crowd had gathered that they crushed one another. Then Jesus spoke to his disciples in this way, “Beware of they east of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered that will not be uncovered; or hidden, that will not be made known. Whatever you have said in darkness will be heard in daylight, and what you have whispered in hidden places, will be proclaimed from housetops.
“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who put to death the body and, after that, can do no more. But I will tell you whom to fear: Fear the one who, after killing you, is able to throw you into hell. This one you must fear. Don’t you buy five sparrows for two pennies? Yet not one of them has been forgotten by God. Even the hairs of your head have been numbered. Don’t be afraid! Are you less worthy in the eyes of God than many sparrows?”
First, let’s observe the success of the preaching of Jesus: the crowd is so numerous that they crushed one another. Sometimes Jesus uses the metaphor of ‘yeast’ to explain the nature of the Kingdom. Here he uses it as a warning against Pharisees. Their hypocrisy is like the yeast with which they corrupt the people. But Jesus proclaims the universal revelation of all secret thoughts and actions. This is a solemn admonishment against hypocrisy and a caution for us.
Nothing is secret before God. Let us love transparency and entrust our past errors to the mercy of God. Our fear is not to the possible killers or persecutors, but to those, who through temptations to sin, can throw our soul into hell for ever. But Jesus stresses that the Providence of the Father does not forget us; more than sparrows He is attentive to our persons even in the smallest aspects like our hair. By his teachings, Jesus shapes the hearts of disciples.
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
1st Reading: Rom 4:13, 16-18:
If God promised Abraham, or rather his descendants, that the world would belong to him, this was not because of his obeying the law, but because he was just and a friend of God through faith. For that reason, faith is the way and all is given by grace; and the promises of Abraham are fulfilled for all his descendants, not only for his children according to the Law, but also for all the others who have believed. Abraham is the father of all of us, as it is written: I will make you father of many nations. He is our father in the eyes of Him who gives life to the dead, and calls into existence what does not yet exist, for this is the God in whom he believed. Abraham believed and hoped against all expectation, thus becoming father of many nations, as he had been told: See how many will be your descendants.
Gospel: Lk 12:8-12:
“I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before people, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But the one who denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God. There will be pardon for the one who criticizes the Son of Man, but there will be no pardon for the one who slanders the Holy Spirit. When you are brought before the synagogues, governors and rulers, don’t worry about how you will defend yourself or what to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you have to say.”
Isn’t the Gospel of today a fine lesson about the Holy Spirit? In fact, what gives us the strength to confess Jesus, the Son of Man, before people? Let us be reminded with the last sentence of the text that Jesus promised the assistance of the Holy Spirit when Christians come before tribunals. Their irresistible inspiration will be the Holy Spirit. That is why the early faithful kept the “acts” of Martyrs, i.e. the minutes of their trials.
Their answers are full of supernatural wisdom. Jesus promised similar witness in front of his Father and the angels of heaven. But there is more. Why are the critiques against Jesus pardonable but the slanders against the Holy Spirit unpardonable? We can guess that perhaps the blasphemies against Jesus are due to his humanity; but if we refuse the grace of the Holy Spirit that leads us to faith, there is no salvation for us. In any case, let us carefully listen and obediently follow the inner voice of the Spirit at every moment.