Bible Diary for October 17th – 23rd

October 17th

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. Ignatius of Antioch

1st Reading: Is 53:10-11:
Yet it was the will of Yahweh to crush him with grief. When he makes himself an offering for sin, he will have a long life and see his descendants. Through him the will of Yahweh is done. For the anguish he suffered, he will see the light and obtain perfect knowledge. My just servant will justify the multitude; he will bear and take away their guilt.

2nd Reading: Heb 4:14-16:
We have a great High Priest, Jesus, the Son of God, who has entered heaven. Let us, then, hold fast to the faith we profess. Our high priest is not indifferent to our weaknesses, for he was tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sinning. Let us, then, with confidence approach the throne of grace; we will obtain mercy and, through his favor, help in due time.

Gospel: Mk 10:35-45:
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him, “Master, we want you to grant us what we are going to ask of you.” And he said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They answered, “Grant us to sit one at your right and one at your left when you come in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized in the way I am baptized?” They answered, “We can.” And Jesus told them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and you will be baptized in the way I am baptized. But to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to grant. It has been prepared for others.”

On hearing this, the other ten were angry with James and John; Jesus then called them to him and said, “As you know, the so-called rulers of the nations act as tyrants and those in authority oppress the people. But it shall not be so among you; whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you shall make himself slave of all. Think of the Son of Man who has not come to be served but to serve and to give his life to redeem many.”

Even those closest to Jesus who heard Him preach and saw how He lived were not immune to flawed desires of the heart. They desired power, authority and recognition. These were the very things that Jesus had to wrestle with when He went to the desert for forty days. These hidden desires of their hearts come into the open when James and John were bold enough to articulate their ambition. It would have led to the breakup of the group. But Jesus showed His authority over the Twelve by teaching them the proper perspective of power and authority. It ought to be for service. It was enough to calm the hearts and minds of His disciples. They had seen Jesus practicing what He taught them.

His authority was (and is) derived from His being. That is why it is so effective. I may need to recall the many times when I was given the chance to lead and how it turned out in order for me to have a picture of who I am in front of power and authority. Knowing my personal style of leadership, I can slowly orient it to the gospel based idea of leading. Lord, may I handle power well. May it not corrupt or deform me. May it transform me so that I may see that it is a privilege extended to those who are worthy. And when power bests me in the war of wills, help me Lord to gain the upper hand. May I be in the end, a worthy vessel of Your power. Amen.

October 18th

St. Luke

1st Reading: 2 Tim 4:10-17b:
Demas, enamored of the present world, deserted me and went to Thessalonica, Crescens to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Luke is the only one with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is helpful to me in the ministry. I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak I left with Carpus in Troas, the papyrus rolls, and especially the parchments.

Alexander the coppersmith did me a great deal of harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. You too be on guard against him, for he has strongly resisted our preaching. At my first defense no one appeared on my behalf, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it.

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.’”

Today we are remembering one of the most important figures of the Primitive Church, Luke the evangelist. Why important? Because of the following facts. First, Luke singlehandedly wrote a quarter of the New Testament. His two-volume work is made, first, of a gospel relating the story of Jesus, and second, of the Acts of the Apostles relating the story of the infant Church as a distinct phase of salvation history.

Second, at every turn Luke in his gospel emphasizes how Jesus is caring and tender toward the poor and lowly, the outcast, the sinner and the afflicted, those who recognize their dependence on God. No evangelist is more concerned than Luke with the mercy and compassion of Jesus, with the role of the Spirit in the life of Jesus and of the Christian disciples, with the importance of prayer, with Jesus’ concern for women. Third, Luke was at times a close and faithful collaborator of Paul, who calls him “the beloved physician” (Col 4:14). Fourth, Luke was highly literate both in the Old Testament and in Hellenistic Greek writings. He wrote mostly for Gentile Christians and the whole Church at large. Our debt to him is incalculable.

October 19th

Sts. Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf, & Companions

1st Reading: Rom 5:12, 15b, 17-19, 20b-21:
Therefore, sin entered the world through one man and through sin, death, and later on death spread to all humankind, because all sinned. All died because of the fault of one man, but how much more does the grace of God spread when the gift he granted reaches all, from this unique man Jesus Christ. If death reigned through the disobedience of one and only one person, how much more will there be a reign of life for those who receive the grace and the gift of true righteousness through the one person, Jesus Christ.

Just as one transgression brought sentence of death to all, so, too, one man’s good act has brought justification and light to all; and as the disobedience of only one made all sinners, so the obedience of one person allowed all to be made just and holy. Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, and, as sin caused death to reign, so grace will reign, in its own time, and, after making us just, and friends of God, will bring us to eternal life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Gospel: Lk 12:35-38:
Be ready, dressed for service, and keep your lamps lit, like people waiting for their master to return from the wedding. As soon as he comes and knocks, they will open the door to him. Happy are those servants whom the master finds wide-awake when he comes. Truly, I tell you, he will put on an apron and have them sit at table and he will wait on them. Happy are those servants if he finds them awake when he comes at midnight or daybreak!

Do we realize that the metaphor of a wedding is often the horizon of the parables of Jesus? This is the time to celebrate the wedding of the Lamb (Rev 19: 7). Yes, since the Ascension of Christ, the banquet has been prepared, and the guests continuously arrive. However, we are still in our earthly time of waiting, and the wait can be long. The Lord tells us to be ready always. The image of the lamp is suggestive. It reminds us of the parable of the ten bridesmaids. We can link it with the symbolic candle that lit during our Baptism.

Its great significance is that of living in the grace of God, avoiding all mortal sins. This should be our attire for the banquet as well as our joy when we open the door of our life for eternity. We cannot imagine what the “table” of the Lord will be, but we can long for it. What will be the “worship” of the Holy Trinity in the Kingdom?

October 20th

St. Paul of the Cross

1st Reading: Rom 6:12-18:
Do not allow sin any control over your mortal bodies; do not submit yourselves to its evil inclinations, and do not give your members over to sin, as instruments to do evil. On the contrary, offer yourselves as persons returned from death to life, and let the members of your body be as holy instruments at the service of God. Sin will not lord it over you again, for you are not under the law, but under grace. I ask again: are we to sin because we are not under the Law, but under grace? Certainly not.

If you have given yourselves up to someone as his slave, you are to obey the one who commands you, aren’t you? Now with sin you go to death, and by accepting faith you go the right way. Let us give thanks to God for, after having sin as your master, you have been given to another, that is, to the doctrine of faith, to which you listen willingly. And being free from sin, you began to serve true righteousness.

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.”

Peter’s question offers Jesus the pretext to teach about stewardship on a deeper level. Peter and the apostles are openly concerned. Jesus depicts two different possible stewards. One who is faithful to his task receives the congratulations of the master. The other steward though is confident in his master’s delay and his conduct is reproachable. Jesus paints an ugly situation: the steward’s abuse of menservants and girls as well as eating and drinking and getting drunk. The consequence is terrible: he will be considered as an “unfaithful” gentile or pagan. Nevertheless, Jesus makes a distinction among servants according to their awareness of their tasks.

Ignorance is a real excuse and the punishment is lighter. But the mind of Jesus is clear: the gifts one receives is proportionate to the responsibility over them. The Gospel today focuses on the ministers in the Church. It is a clear warning by Jesus. Later, the Fathers of the Church will discourage the ambition to become priest or bishop. They had deep insight on the responsibility, postponing all kind of honor and pride. Therefore, according to the grace we receive let us pray for our utter answer and fidelity to it until the end of our life.

October 21st

1st Reading: Rom 6:19-23:
You see that I speak in a very human way, taking into account that you are not fully mature. There was a time when you let your members be slaves of impurity and disorder, walking in the way of sin; convert them now into servants of righteousness, to the point of becoming holy. When you were slaves of sin, you did not feel under obligation to righteousness, but what were the fruits of those actions of which you are now ashamed? Such things bring death. Now, however, you have been freed from sin and serve God. You are bearing fruit and growing in holiness, and the result will be life everlasting. So on one side is sin: its reward, death; on the other side is God: he gives us, by grace, life everlasting in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

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 words of Jesus fit so well with the missionary intention of this month of October. Fire is light, warmth and a blaze. Jesus would like to spread this fire on earth to burn evil and sin, and to enlighten minds and to warm hearts. In the History of Salvation the tongues of fire at Pentecost are the beginning of this universal expansion of the faith and love of Jesus. Yes, through the Holy Spirit, the salvation he acquired for us in his Death and Resurrection, will reach all countries and generations. Don’t we see flames in the heart of Jesus? But Jesus also speaks of a personal baptism. This baptism is as well called “chalice” or cup to drink. This is a clear allusion to the Passion (Mk 10: 38).

Jesus longs for the summit of his life in which he will accomplish the Redemption of the world. From this baptism of blood will spring the baptism of fire in the Spirit that will purify, illuminate and sanctify humankind. The preaching of this Gospel will provoke division in families, peoples and cultures. But these sufferings and persecutions will contribute to universal salvation. Let us share his fire and baptism with an ardent desire of spreading the Gospel and anguish for the conversion of the world.

October 21st

St. John Paul II

1st Reading: Rom 7:18-25a:
I know that what is right does not abide in me, I mean, in my flesh. I can want to do what is right, but I am unable to do it. In fact I do not do the good I want, but the evil I hate. Therefore, if I do what I do not want to do, I am not the one striving towards evil, but Sin which is in me. I discover, then, this reality: though I wish to do what is right, the evil within me asserts itself first. My Inmost self agrees and rejoices with the law of God, but I notice in my body another law challenging the law of the spirit, and delivering me as a slave to the law of sin written in my members. Alas, for me! Who will free me from this being which is only death? Let us give thanks to God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

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 in prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the very last penny.”

Living in different climates, people in all cultures have proverbs that use signs announcing future weather. Jesus uses the occasion of this custom to apply it to the spiritual situation of his time in Israel. Do you remember the messengers John the Baptist sent to him asking for his messianic task? The answer of the Lord was clear: “Go back and tell John what you have seen and heard.” And he gives a set of miracles, including the evangelization of the poor (Lk 7: 18-23). For Jesus the messianic signs in him were evident. But the people refused to believe: “You superficial people!”

From the beginning of his preaching Jesus had been telling: “The Kingdom of God is at hand.” (Mk 1 15) Every period of the human history also has special “signs” for faith and salvation. Some authors guess them today in the thirst for spirituality, and the abundant groups of prayer. Are we “superficial people”? Do we reject the “signs” of present time? In any case, we have only a short time to convert: before our arrival in front of the Judgment seat of God. Let us encourage ourselves to do the suitable steps according to the signs we receive in our life.

October 23rd

St. John of Capistrano

1st Reading: Rom 8:1-11:
This contradiction no longer exists for those who are in Jesus Christ. For, in Jesus Christ, the law of the Spirit of life has set me free from the law of sin and death. The Law was without effect because flesh was not responding. Then God, planning to destroy sin, sent his own Son, in the likeness of those subject to the sinful human condition; by doing this, he condemned the sin in this human condition. Since then the perfection intended by the Law would be fulfilled in those not walking in the way of the flesh, but in the way of the Spirit. Those walking according to the flesh tend towards what is flesh; those led by the spirit, to what is spirit. Flesh tends towards death, while spirit aims at life and peace.

What the flesh seeks is against God: it does not agree, it cannot even submit to the law of God. So, those walking according to the flesh cannot please God. Yet your existence is not in the flesh, but in the spirit, because the Spirit of God is within you. If you did not have the Spirit of Christ, you would not belong to him. But Christ is within you; though the body is branded by death as a consequence of sin, the spirit is life and holiness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is within you, He who raised Jesus Christ from among the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies. Yes, he will do it through his Spirit who dwells within you.

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.’”

It seems easy to link sins and punishments. Every time there are political massacres or natural disasters we think about victims and sinners. We consider these events as consequences of God’s justice. It arrived with Pilate and the tower of Siloah in the time of Jesus. Catastrophes occur in many countries today. Once again, Jesus withdraws from this popular judgment. He surprises us with new criteria. The victims are not guiltier. The sudden death is, instead, a general admonition to us. We must do penance and be prepared for the meeting with the Lord.

Remember Saint Anthony Claret: in his preaching he used to begin by exhorting his listeners to conversion and offering reconciliation through the sacrament of penance. Does it mean that we must fear death without any preparation, when our life is unfruitful? No. The parable of the gardener interceding for the barren tree and offering to dig and add fertilizer fills us with confidence. Let us be attentive to the signs of Jesus doing it in our life. Let us recall the presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Let us peacefully progress to the encounter with the Lord.