Bible Diary for October 18th – 24th

October 18th

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. Luke

1st Reading: Is 45:1, 4–6:
Thus says Yahweh to his anointed, to Cyrus: “I have taken you by the right hand to subdue nations before you and strip kings of their armor, to open the gateways before you so that they will be closed no more. For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen one, I have called you by your name and given you your mission although you do not know me. I am Yahweh, and there is no other; there is no God besides me. I armed you when you did not know me, so that, from the rising to the setting of the sun, all may know that there is no one besides me; I am Yahweh, and there is no other.

2nd Reading: 1 Thes 1:1–5b:
From Paul, Sylvanus and Timothy, to the church of Thessalonica, which is in God, the Father, and in Christ Jesus, the Lord. May the peace and grace of God be with you. We give thanks to God, at all times, for you, and remember you in our prayers. We constantly recall, before God, our Father, the work of your faith, the labors of your love, and your endurance, in waiting for Christ Jesus our Lord. We remember, brothers and sisters, the circumstances of your being called. The gospel we brought you was such, not only in words. Miracles, the Holy Spirit, and plenty of everything, were given to you. You, also, know how we dealt with you, for your sake.

Gospel: Mt 22:15–21:
The Pharisees went away, considering how they could trap Jesus by his own words. They sent to him their disciples, along with members of Herod’s party, saying, “Master, we know that you are an honest man, and truly teach God’s way. You are not influenced by others, nor are you afraid of anyone. So tell us what you think: is it against the law to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

But Jesus understood their evil intentions, and said to them, “Hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin with which you pay taxes.” They showed him a silver coin, and Jesus said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose name?” They answered, “Caesar’s.” Then Jesus replied, “So give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.”

There are questions that genuinely seek the truth while there are questions that seek the downfall of the enemy. This is the reason why you have to be always on your toes when dealing with such people. You will never know when they will spring the trap. But Jesus is not the type to flee from such occasions. He knows where He comes from and the clarity of His purpose makes Him ready for such eventualities. It’s because of this that the religious leaders could not beat Him in the war of words.

A coalition of the aggrieved is beginning to form. Life will always be hard for those who stand for the truth. Am I honest in paying my taxes and all dues that I owe to others for services rendered to me? Jesus does not stop the payment of taxes to the government of His time because it ensures the environment where income could be made. I too should render a just account of all my legitimate income. I will be doing my share in ensuring the government’s capacity to deliver services to the people.

October 19th

Sts. Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf, and Companions

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.”

Family problems do happen especially if it involves inheritance. If the parents have not made a clear provision as to the division of the properties involved, misunderstanding and conflict may arise. And so one person among the crowd sought the help of Jesus to get what he thought was his legitimate share of the inheritance. He was probably banking on the moral authority that Jesus has acquired on the course of His ministry.

But Jesus will not be simply dragged to an internal conflict between family members. Rather, He pointed to the root cause of the problem which is greed. Things would not have reached this point between the brothers had fairness governed their lives. And so Jesus told them what should be their true preoccupation first. They must grow rich before God by doing good. If such is the case, no problem of this sort will crop up. The heart will automatically do what is just and fair.

October 20th

St. Paul of the Cross

1st Reading: Eph 2:12–22:
At that time, you were without Christ, you did not belong to the community of Israel; the Covenants of God, and his promises, were not for you; you had no hope, and were without God in this world. But now, in Christ Jesus, and by his blood, you, who were once far off, have come near. For Christ is our peace; he, who has made the two people, one; destroying, in his own flesh, the wall—the hatred—which separated us. He abolished the law, with its commands and precepts. He made peace, in uniting the two people, in him; creating, out of the two, one New Man.

He destroyed hatred and reconciled us both to God, through the cross, making the two, one body. He came to proclaim peace; peace to you who were far off, peace to the Jews who were near. Through him, we—the two people—approach the Father, in one Spirit. Now, you are no longer strangers or guests, but fellow citizens of the holy people: you are of the household of God. You are the house, whose foundations are the apostles and prophets, and whose cornerstone is Christ Jesus. In him, the whole structure is joined together, and rises, to be a holy temple, in the Lord. In him, you, too, are being built, to become the spiritual Sanctuary of God.

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!

During the early Christian community, people had this sense of alertness with regard to the second coming of Jesus. They lived in an apocalyptic time. That is why what they did and said was geared towards preparation for the coming of the Lord. But this sense has left us now. After more than two thousand years of waiting, we have lost this urgency and spiritual preparedness when the Master comes.

Today, the Gospel reminds us that whether the Master’s coming is near or not, we still have to be ready. This readiness should not be borne out of fear but of genuine love for the Master. Fear only makes us anxious and afraid, while love bestows the quality of joy in what we do because we have been always prepared. May we be prompt and proud when the Lord calls on us on the Last Day.

October 21st

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. Even the heavenly forces and powers will now discover, through the church, the wisdom of God in its manifold expression, as the plan is being fulfilled, which God designed from the beginning, in Christ Jesus, our Lord. In him, we receive boldness and confidence to approach God.

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.

It seems that our Gospels nowadays take an apocalyptic turn. No wonder since we are nearing the end of our liturgical calendar when we will celebrate the Christ the King Sunday. It is also the image of the things to come when this age will close and end. It will see the triumph of Jesus as King of heaven and earth. Meanwhile, we are led to think about our state of preparations for the great day. The Gospel also reminds us that we have been told ahead about this coming future.

We have no cause to delay. A wise servant must handle his time as if it’s the time when the Lord will come again in glory. He is burdened by this advanced knowledge. If he who already knows, yet does not do something to make himself ready, he will be punished more than those who are ignorant. For knowledge is both a blessing and a responsibility. How one uses it will spell the difference between salvation and damnation.

October 22nd

St. John Paul II

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.”

Now the words of Jesus take an ominous turn. What we thought as feel good teachings have now given way to the harsh realities that await those who cling to Jesus. Their lives will not be easy. They will make hard choices because they insist on following Jesus. This reminds us that our discipleship does not come cheap. Sometimes, we have to give up what we most hold dear, our loved ones.

Perhaps this is the reason why many are called but few are chosen. We have no courage to pay the price when it is called for. If until now our lives have been beds of roses and no cross has ever rocked our world, then we should question ourselves. The pain of the cross is the clearest sign of our discipleship. Without that we have nothing to boast. May we stand firm in our following of the Lord even when it costs us dearly.

October 23rd

St. John of Capistrano

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 24th

St. Anthony Mary Claret

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.’”

Bad things happen to people not necessarily because they have done badly themselves. It is not a just dessert for some wrongs they did in the past. More often than not, they are just casualties of the evil done by others. They are the countless, nameless collateral damages of the bad deeds of some. In this case, we cannot blame God for the intentional evil done by our fellow human beings.

We might accuse Him of not lifting a finger to stop them but who can dictate on God? He has His freedom to act or not and we cannot infringe on this radical freedom which He Himself allows us to have. We can only start with ourselves and make a thorough review whether we have used this freedom for the good or have ourselves contributed to the spiral of evil that happens in this world? Let the fruit of goodness blossom in our lives and perhaps, we will make our world a less evil place to live in.