Bible Diary for October 11th – 17th

October 11th

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. John XXIII

1st Reading: Is 25:6–10a:
On this mountain Yahweh Sabaoth will prepare for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, meat full of marrow, fine wine strained. On this mountain he will destroy the pall cast over all peoples, this very shroud spread over all nations, and death will be no more. The Lord Yahweh will wipe away the tears from all cheeks and eyes; he will take away the humiliation of his people all over the world: for Yahweh has spoken. On that day you will say: This is our God. We have waited for him to save us, let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation. For on this mountain the hand of Yahweh rests.

2nd Reading: Phil 4:12–14, 19–20:
I know what it is to be in want and what it is to have plenty. I am trained for both: to be hungry or satisfied, to have much or little. I can do all things in him who strengthens me. However, you did right in sharing my trials. God, himself, will provide you with everything you need, according to his riches, and show you his generosity in Christ Jesus. Glory to God, our Father, for ever and ever: Amen.

Gospel: Mt 22:1–14:
Jesus continued speaking to them in parables: “This story throws light on the kingdom of heaven: A king gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to call the invited guests to the banquet, but the guests refused to come. Again, he sent other servants, instructing them to say to the invited guests, ‘I have prepared a banquet, slaughtered my fattened calves and other animals, and now, everything is ready. Come to the wedding!’ But they paid no attention and went away, some to their farms, and some to their work. Others seized the servants of the king, insulted them and killed them. The king was furious. He sent his troops to destroy those murderers and burn their city.

“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is prepared, but the invited guests were not worthy. Go instead to the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding feast.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, good and bad alike, so that the hall was filled with guests. The king came in to see the wedding guests, and he noticed a man not wearing a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in without the wedding clothes?’ But the man remained silent. So the king said to his servants, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Familiarity sometimes makes us take for granted things that might have been otherwise hard to come by in a different setting. To be considered friend of the king and be one of his honored guests is a chance that ordinary mortals spend a lifetime just to be one. Yet since these friends have been so familiar with the regal presence, they are not as awed as common people are. Hence, they snub and were even irritated with such invitation. The same thing happens sometimes in the spiritual life. Those who are deemed “close” to or familiar with God are the ones who are not that awed with the holy life.

Their sensibilities have been deadened by constant exposure to it that they have no qualms trampling upon it. It is not the result of their friendship with God. It is because pride has set in their hearts such privilege that they now have a bloated understanding of themselves. There are moments when I take God for granted, confident in the fact that He and I are friends. This should not go on. I must value my friendship with God. Today might be a good day to say a prayer of thanks to this God who befriended me and do something to someone today as an act of gratitude to this loving friend of mine.

October 12th

1st Reading: Gal 4:22–24, 26–27, 31–5:1:
It says, that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman, the other by the free woman, his wife. The son of the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but the son of the free woman was born in fulfillment of God’s promise. Here we have an allegory and the figures of two Covenants. The first is the one from Mount Sinai, represented through Hagar: her children have slavery for their lot. But the Jerusalem above, who is our mother, is free.

And Scripture says of her: Rejoice, barren woman without children, break forth in shouts of joy, you who do not know the pains of childbirth, for many shall be the children of the forsaken mother, more than of the married woman. Brethren, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman. Christ freed us, to make us really free. So remain firm, and do not submit, again, to the yoke of slavery.

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.”

Evil people are those who have been repeatedly shown signs in words and deeds that the time of salvation is near yet do not believe. Jesus tried hard to make them understand yet their hearts and minds were already hardened. They were not open to Jesus’ teachings even if it was backed up by miraculous signs and wonders. Jesus was at the point of giving up.

Yet He still reserved a last sign, that of His resurrection from the dead after three days, just as Jonah spent three days in the belly of the whale. What a great loss for the people of Jesus’ time who did not open themselves to the teachings of Jesus! They lost eternity because of their persistent unbelief. People who are closed miss out on a lot of good things. May we of the present age not miss salvation by loosening our hearts and minds to God’s word.

October 13th

1st Reading: Gal 5:1–6:
Christ freed us, to make us really free. So remain firm, and do not submit, again, to the yoke of slavery. I, Paul, say this to you: if you receive circumcision, Christ can no longer help you. Once more, I say, to whoever receives circumcision: you are now bound to keep the whole law. All you, who pretend to become righteous through the observance of the law, have separated yourselves from Christ, and have fallen away from grace. As for us, through the Spirit and faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. In Christ Jesus, it is irrelevant, whether we be circumcised or not; what matters is, faith, working through love.

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.

Rituals make life easy by facilitating our movement from one area of our life to the next. For the Jews, eating meals has a sacral dimension; to enter into this sacred act and space, one must wash hands as a ritual cleansing of oneself coming from the profane world with its profane activities. Yet Jesus does not have the patience for such ceremonies that are only for outward appearances. He is more preoccupied with the interior cleanliness of the person. Outward rituals can be dispensed. They are not obligatory. But to be good interiorly is a must.

October 14th

St. Callistus I

1st Reading: Gal 5:18–25:
But when you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. You know what comes from the flesh: fornication, impurity and shamelessness, idol worship and sorcery, hatred, jealousy and violence, anger, ambition, division, factions, and envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like. I again say to you what I have already said: those who do these things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is charity, joy and peace, patience, understanding of others, kindness and fidelity, gentleness and self-control. For such things there is no law or punishment. Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its vices and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us live in a spiritual way.

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 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 do not move a finger to help them.”

Cursing seems to be a heavy thing to do to others. We instinctively feel that people who curse go overboard. Yet here we are with Jesus cursing the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. The air is thick with emotions. Jesus openly ridicules the religious leaders of His time. At first glance, it seemed that Jesus was too harsh with these two groups. Yet a closer reading reveals where His stance came from. It was because the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had calcified in their belief that they were the keepers of righteousness.

They have to be shaken from their false sense of the self so that they would see their folly. This is called tough love. It is not something easy. We would rather preserve peace by sweeping the hurtful truth and go on as if everything is normal. But Jesus would not. He could not bear the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law to remain where they were. If He was to be the bad guy, so be it. This is the price one pays sometimes if one loves passionately.

October 15th

St. Teresa of Avila

1st Reading: Eph 1:1–10:
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will of God, to the saints in Ephesus, to you, who share Christian faith: receive grace and peace from God, our Father, and from Jesus, the Lord. Blessed be God, the Father of Christ Jesus our Lord, who, in Christ, has blessed us from heaven, with every spiritual blessing. God chose us, in Christ, before the creation of the world, to be holy, and without sin in his presence. From eternity he destined us, in love, to be his adopted sons and daughters, through Christ Jesus, thus fulfilling his free and generous will.

This goal suited him: that his loving-kindness, which he granted us in his beloved might finally receive all glory and praise. For, in Christ, we obtain freedom, sealed by his blood, and have the forgiveness of sins. In this, appears the greatness of his grace, which he lavished on us. In all wisdom and understanding, God has made known to us his mysterious design, in accordance with his loving-kindness, in Christ. In him, and under him, God wanted to unite, when the fullness of time had come, everything in heaven and on earth.

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.

The tirade of Jesus against the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law continues. He will not allow them to forget their historical errors. The truth may be hurtful but it has to be confronted. Any peace that is borne of compromise and not based on a genuine searching of the heart is bound to fail in the long run. An acknowledgement of the wrongs done and a genuine repentance and the seeking of forgiveness must be in place for peace to flourish. But the two groups have hardened their stance. It is not anymore the truth that matters but their pride wounded by Jesus’ bold words. They now commence to find ways and means to silence truth. In the end, the truth will always find itself lonely.

October 16th

St. Hedwig
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

1st Reading: Eph 1:11–14:
By a decree of him, who disposes all things, according to his own plan and decision, we, the Jews, have been chosen and called, and we were awaiting the Messiah, for the praise of his glory. You, on hearing the word of truth, the gospel that saves you, have believed in him. And, as promised, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit, the first pledge of what we shall receive, on the way to our deliverance, as a people of God, for the praise of his glory.

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 the yeast 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?”

His clash with the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law left Jesus with no choice but to warn His disciples against being contaminated by the religious hypocrisy of these religious teachers. They may be able to cover it for a while and fool others by their display of piety, but a day will come when they will be unmasked for who they really are.

In our life, we sometimes feel that we could cover up our acts, especially those that reveal our weaknesses. Yet time and time again we are shown that no secret remains as such permanently. But we never learn. The words of wisdom that Jesus imparted to His disciples during His time remain valid until today. Shall we therefore clean up our acts so that there will be no secrets to hide? Or like the Pharisees will we continue conducting our lives as if it is business as usual?

October 17th

St. Ignatius of Antioch

1st Reading: Eph 1:15-23:
I have been told of your faith and your affection toward all the believers, so I always give thanks to God, remembering you in my prayers. May the God of Christ Jesus our Lord, the Father of glory, reveal himself to you, and give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation, that you may know him. May he enlighten your inner vision, that you may appreciate the things we hope for, since we were called by God. May you know how great is the inheritance, the glory, God sets apart for his saints; may you understand, with what extraordinary power, he acts in favor of us who believe.

He revealed his almighty power in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and had him sit at his right hand in heaven, far above all rule, power, authority, dominion, or any other supernatural force that could be named, not only in this world, but in the world to come as well. Thus has God put all things under the feet of Christ and set him above all things, as head of the church, which is his body, the fullness of him, who fills all in all.

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, and before 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.”

The boldness which Christ calls for in the faithful proclamation of God‘s truth and love does not come from our own strength and wisdom. Jesus says that the power of our proclamation comes from the Holy Spirit. Let us cease to worry about the consequences of our boldness and focus our attention on the source of it—God‘s Spirit.

With great assurance, Jesus says, “Do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.“ See how the Holy Spirit did just this in Acts 4:8-10 – “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: it is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.“

It is not enough simply to look at truths about the Spirit, if we don‘t connect them to our lives. In the twenty-first century, we have become too self-sufficient and indifferent to the promptings of the Spirit. We need to let the Holy Spirit to instruct and guide us.