Bible Diary for October 16th – October 22nd

October 16th

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. Hedwig
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

1st Reading: Ex 17:8-13:
When the Israelites were at Rephidim, the Amalekites came and attacked them. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites in the morning. As for me, I will stand with God’s staff in my hand at the top of the hill.” Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had directed, while Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. It happened that when Moses raised his hands, the Israelites would win but when he lowered them, the Amalekites would have the advantage. As Moses’ arms grew weary they placed a stone for him to sit on while Aaron and Hur on either side held up his arms which remained steadily raised until sunset. For his part Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people with the sword.

2nd Reading: 2 Tim 3:14–4:2:
As for you, continue with what you have learned, and what has been entrusted to you, knowing from whom you received it. Besides, you have known the Scriptures from childhood; they will give you the wisdom that leads to salvation, through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God, and is useful for teaching, refuting error, for correcting and training in Christian life. Through Scripture, the man of God is made expert and thoroughly equipped for every good work. In the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by the hope I have of his coming, and his kingdom, I urge you to preach the word, in season and out of season, reproving, rebuking, or advising, always with patience, and providing instruction.

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?”

In today’s second reading we hear Paul say that “all Scripture is inspired by God,” and, since the very first generation of Christians, the Church has always held that the Bible was God’s very word. But we must be careful in the way we understand this to be true, for actually the manner God inspired the Bible is a profound mystery. This is hinted at by Vatican II when it teaches that “God speaks in Sacred Scripture through men in human fashion.” These words “in human fashion” mean that a lot of our human imperfections–and especially our false notions about God–are inextricably woven into God’s message. For inspiration is not dictation.

God fully respected the personality of each author he inspired (his literary style, his linguistic limitations, his false ideas about God, etc.) and somehow tried to reach us and tell us the basic message of the Bible which is: I LOVE YOU. All this means that, on the surface of the Bible, we have many authors projecting their own human notions about God, many of them completely false (v.g. God killing babies) and God, through all that, accepting to be endlessly vilified and defamed, while telling us his own personal message: I LOVE YOU. Let us ask for the Spirit’s wisdom in the delicate task of interpreting the Bible. Today resolve to study the bible seriously and start by consulting a knowledgeable Christian on some Bible passages that bother you.

October 17th

St. Ignatius of Antioch

1st Reading: Eph 2:1-10:
You were dead, through the faults and sins. Once, you lived through them, according to this world, and followed the Sovereign Ruler who reigns between heaven and earth, and who goes on working, in those who resist the faith. All of us belonged to them, at one time, and we followed human greed; we obeyed the urges of our human nature and consented to its desires. By ourselves, we went straight to the judgment, like the rest of humankind. But God, who is rich in mercy, revealed his immense love.

As we were dead through our sins, he gave us life, with Christ. By grace, you have been saved! And he raised us to life, with Christ, giving us a place with him in heaven. In showing us such kindness, in Christ Jesus, God willed to reveal, and unfold in the coming ages, the extraordinary riches of his grace. By the grace of God, you have been saved, through faith. This has not come from you: it is God’s gift. This was not the result of your works, so you are not to feel proud. What we are, is God’s work. He has created us, in Christ Jesus, for the good works he has prepared, that we should devote ourselves to them.

Gospel: Lk 12:13-21:
Someone in the crowd spoke to Jesus, “Master, tell my brother to share with me the family inheritance.” He replied, “My friend, who has appointed me as your judge or your attorney?” Then Jesus said to the people, “Be on your guard and avoid every kind of greed, for even though you have many possessions, it is not that which gives you life.” And Jesus continued, “There was a rich man, and his land had produced a good harvest.

He thought, ‘What shall I do, for I am short of room to store my harvest? Alright, I know what I shall do: I will pull down my barns and I will build bigger ones, to store all this grain, which is my wealth. Then I will say to myself: My friend, you have a lot of good things put by for many years. Rest, eat, drink and enjoy yourself.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be taken from you. Tell me, who shall get all you have put aside?’ This is the lot of the one who stores up riches for himself and is not wealthy in the eyes of God.”

Jesus cautions against abundant possessions. To him, they cannot be the source of life and security. Thus, they are not able to give or inspire life in the human person. The unrestricted accumulation of possessions at the expense of others arises from greed—the inclination to want more and to have more. Whereas, greed comes from insecurity—the feeling that there is something lacking or missing, creating instability and emptiness. Greed is never satisfied to have this much or that much. It always wants some more and some more because more is not enough.

Greed is a sign of insecurity and fear. (And many possessions project themselves to provide security.) Greed and insecurity corrupt the human mind and spirit. They take us away from (the) God and prevent us from becoming instruments of God’s goodness and generosity. That is why Jesus warns of every form of greed. What, then, gives us life if not many possessions? Jesus himself says he is the life and that he has come to give us life to its fullness. Lord Jesus, we pray that you become our true source of security, courage, strength, and inspiration. And take away our fears of the uncertainties of life.

October 18th

St. Luke

1st Reading: 2 Tim 4:10-17b:
You must know, that Demas has deserted me, for the love of this world: he returned to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke remains with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is a useful helper in my work. I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. Bring with you the cloak I left at Troas, in Carpos’ house, and also the scrolls, especially the parchments. Alexander, the metalworker, has caused me great harm.

The Lord will repay him for what he has done. Distrust him, for he has been very much opposed to our preaching. At my first hearing in court, no one supported me; all deserted me. May the Lord not hold it against them. But the Lord was at my side, giving me strength, to proclaim the word fully, and let all the pagans hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.

Gospel: Lk 10:1-9:
After this, the Lord appointed seventy-two other disciples, and sent them, two by two, ahead of him, to every town and place, where he himself was to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. So you must ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to his harvest. Courage! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Set off without purse or bag or sandals; and do not stop at the homes of those you know.

Whatever house you enter, first bless them, saying, ‘Peace to this house!’ If a friend of peace lives there, the peace shall rest upon that person. But if not, the blessing will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking at their table, for the worker deserves to be paid. Do not move from house to house. When they welcome you to any town, eat what they offer you. Heal the sick who are there, and say to them: ‘The kingdom of God has drawn near to you.’

The Church, God’s family, was founded not only to take care of God’s flock by dispensing the sacraments to nourish it, to forgive, to heal, but also to attract more to be part of the flock. It is not only a community that provides attention to its members, but concerns herself as well of the well-being of non-members. Hence, she reaches out and opens her doors ready with a warm welcome to everyone who desires to be part of her. We call this mission.

And since WE are the CHURCH, to do mission is our shared call. Each one of us is entrusted with the task to bring the world to Christ and then guide the world to be part of Christ’s family. The gospel today outlines for us how we can undertake the work of mission: pray for the mission and for missionaries, become ambassadors of peace, be instruments of healing, and preach the Kingdom.

October 19th

Sts. Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf, and Companions

1st Reading: Eph 3:2-12:
You may have heard of the graces God bestowed on me, for your sake. By a revelation, he gave me the knowledge of his mysterious design, as I have explained in a few words. On reading them, you will have some idea of how I understand the mystery of Christ. This mystery was not made known to past generations, but only now, through revelations, given to holy apostles and prophets, by the Spirit.

Now, the non-Jews share the inheritance; in Christ Jesus, the non-Jews are incorporated, and are to enjoy the Promise. This is the Good News, of which I have become minister, by a gift of God; a grace he gave me, when his power worked in me. This grace, was given to me, the least, among all the holy ones: to announce to the pagan nations, the immeasurable riches of Christ, and to make clear to all, how the mystery, hidden from the beginning, in God, the Creator of all things, is to be fulfilled.

Gospel: Lk 12:39-48:
Pay attention to this: If the master of the house had known at what time the thief would come, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man will come at an hour you do not expect.” Peter said, “Lord, did you tell this parable only for us, or for everyone?” And the Lord replied, “Imagine, then, the wise and faithful steward, whom the master sets over his other servants, to give them wheat at the proper time. Fortunate is this servant if his master, on coming home, finds him doing his work. Truly, I say to you, the master will put him in charge of all his property.

But it may be that the steward thinks, ‘My Lord delays in coming,’ and he begins to abuse the male servants and the servant girls, eating and drinking and getting drunk. Then the master will come on a day he does not expect, and at an hour he doesn’t know. He will cut him off, and send him to the same fate as the unfaithful. The servant who knew his master’s will, but did not prepare and do what his master wanted, will be soundly beaten; but the one who does unconsciously what deserves punishment, shall receive fewer blows. Much will be required of the one who has been given much, and more will be asked of the one who has been entrusted with more.

We have an additional lesson on being prepared. This time, the Lord uses the image of the thief. This does not mean of course that the Lord is like a thief in his character. The illustration simply points to the difficulty to estimate the thief’s hour of breaking in, therefore readiness at all time is necessary. It is challenging trying to enter into the mind of the thief so it is necessary to avoid negligence in anticipating his every move. The Lord’s warning about the consequence of not being prepared when he comes is pretty consistent.

There will be judgment. But here the Lord distinguishes between receiving a sound beating and receiving fewer blows. The key here is understanding concerning “not doing what one knows” and “not doing what one does not know”. All of us are God’s servants. But not all of us possess the same amount of knowledge about the Master’s will. We may all be mediocre in preparing for his return to deserve punishment. Those who did not know about it will receive a few blows. But more unfortunate shall we be who know more about it and did not do much.

October 20th

St. Paul of the Cross

1st Reading: Eph 3:14-21:
And, now, I kneel in the presence of the Father, from whom, every family in heaven and on earth has received its name. May he strengthen in you, the inner self, through his Spirit, according to the riches of his glory; may Christ dwell in your hearts, through faith; may you be rooted and founded in love. All of this, so that you may understand, with all the holy ones, the width, the length, the height and the depth—in a word, that you may know the love of Christ, that surpasses all knowledge, that you may be filled, and reach the fullness of God. Glory to God, who shows his power in us, and can do much more than we could ask or imagine; glory to him, in the Church, and in Christ Jesus, through all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.

Gospel: Lk 12:49-53:
I have come to bring fire upon the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what anguish I feel until it is finished! Do you think that I have come to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on, in one house five will be divided: three against two, and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

The English language has a lot of expressions involving the idea of cold and heat. For example, it speaks of someone being cold-blooded, cold-hearted, of giving someone the cold shoulder, etc. And these expressions all imply a lack of feeling or a lack of intensity. On the other hand, it speaks of someone being hot-blooded or hot-tempered or hot-headed etc. These expressions imply passion, excitement, etc. Well, in today’s gospel reading Jesus leaves us no doubt about the purpose he has in coming among us. He tells us straight out: “I have come to bring fire upon the earth.”

This fire of his is love, of course. And real, pure love admits of no half-measures. It necessarily refines and purifies all that is contrary to it: selfish concerns, petty pride, envy and jealousy. That is why, in a Semitic short-cut which presents us as an intended goal what is only an unintended consequence, he adds that he has come to bring division among people: some will accept his message of love, and some will reject it. Our presence here today testifies that we are among those who accept it. Let us love, therefore, with all our hearts.

October 21st

1st Reading: Eph 4:1-6:
Therefore, I, the prisoner of Christ, invite you, to live the vocation you have received. Be humble, kind, patient, and bear with one another in love. Make every effort to keep, among you, the unity of spirit, through bonds of peace. Let there be one body, and one Spirit, just as one hope is the goal of your calling by God. One Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God, the Father of all, who is above all, and works through all, and is in all.

Gospel: Lk 12:54-59:
Jesus said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming’; and so it happens. And when the wind blows from the south, you say, ‘It will be hot’; and so it is. You superficial people! You understand the signs of the earth and the sky, but you don’t understand the present times. And why do you not judge for yourselves what is fit? When you go with your accuser before the court, try to settle the case on the way, lest he drag you before the judge, and the judge deliver you to the jailer, and the jailer throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the very last penny.”

It is strange how the emotional atmosphere can vary so greatly from family to family. In some families the tension between the members is almost palpable. There is little talk and no laughter. The faces are grim. One senses that currents of animosity and anger are flowing just below the surface of things. All members are divided against all. In other families we find quite the opposite. The members are relaxed and smiling. The conversation is animated and interrupted by bursts of laughter.

There is affectionate bantering being tossed about. Obviously there is a profound unity binding the members of such happy families. In today’s first reading the apostle Paul gives us the secret formula to become a happy family. He writes to the Ephesians: “Be humble, kind, patient, and bear with each other in love.” If every member of a given family would follow this simple but difficult advice, what peace, joy and union of hearts would follow! And here, let us notice that the first words of Paul are “be humble.” It is often our dear little ego which gets us into trouble. Let us ask the Lord Jesus for humility.

October 22nd

St. John Paul II

1st Reading: Eph 4:7-16:
But to each of us, divine grace is given, according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, it is said: When he ascended to the heights, he brought captives and gave his gifts to people. He ascended, what does it mean, but, that he had also descended to the lower parts of the world? He, himself, who went down, then ascended far above all the heavens, to fill all things. As for his gifts, to some, he gave to be apostles; to others, prophets, or even evangelists; or pastors and teachers. So, he prepared those who belong to him, for the ministry, in order to build up the Body of Christ, until we are all united, in the same faith and knowledge of the Son of God.

Thus, we shall become the perfect Man, upon reaching maturity, and sharing the fullness of Christ. Then, no longer shall we be like children, tossed about by any wave, or wind of doctrine; and deceived by the cunning of people, who drag them along into error. Rather, speaking the truth, in love, we shall grow in every way, toward him, who is the head, Christ. From him, comes the growth of the whole body, to which a network of joints gives order and cohesion, taking into account, and making use of, the function of each one. So, the body builds itself, in love.

Gospel: Lk 13:1-9:
One day, some people told Jesus what had occurred in the temple: Pilate had had Galileans killed, and their blood mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus asked them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered this? No, I tell you. But unless you change your ways, you will all perish, as they did. And those eighteen persons in Siloah, who were crushed when the tower fell, do you think they were more guilty than all the others in Jerusalem? I tell you: no. But unless you change your ways, you will all perish, as they did.”

And Jesus continued, “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it, but found none. Then he said to the gardener, ‘Look here, for three years now I have been looking for figs on this tree, and I have found none. Cut it down, why should it continue to deplete the soil?’ The gardener replied, ‘Leave it one more year, so that I may dig around it and add some fertilizer; perhaps it will bear fruit from now on. But if it doesn’t, you can cut it down.’”

In 2013 in the Philippines two major events happened toward the end of the year. One was the Janet Lim-Napoles political scandal involving dozens of high-ranking officials who had conspired in a gigantic scam to embezzle the tax-payers’ money. The other event was the Super Typhoon Yolanda, which caused the death of more than 7,000 people. Now some Christians connected these two separate events and said that the typhoon was sent by God as a punishment for the political scandal.

Well, today’s gospel reading should prove that such reasoning is pure nonsense. For in the case of the massacre of the Galileans in the temple and of the accidental death of 18 people due to a falling tower, Jesus forcefully argues that none of those victims deserved to die. And certainly no divine punishment was meted out because of someone else’s sins. What kind of justice would that be—killing the innocent in retaliation for the guilty? No, things happen at random. Let us stop attributing to God actions which only a moral monster would perpetrate. As Jesus tells us, “the Father judges no one” (Jn 5:22). If he does not judge, how could he punish?