Bible Diary for October 1st – October 7th

October 1st

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. Thérèse of Lisieux

1st Reading: Ez 18:25-28:
Thus says the Lord: You say, “The Lord’s way is not fair!” Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair? When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die. But if he turns from the wickedness he has committed, and does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life; since he has turned away from all the sins that he has committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.

2nd Reading: Phil 2:1-11:
Brothers and sisters: If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others. Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.

Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Gospel: Mt 21:28-32:
Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people: “What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir, ‘but did not go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” They answered, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.”

An open rebellion that leads to repentance and consequent obedience is better than a passive obedience that later leads to a secret rebellion. That is why we are better off with people who are loud and transparent with their intentions than those whose mind we cannot read. We know at least what to expect from the former and will be genuinely surprised if they have a change of heart. On the other hand we will have a hard time reconciling the good attitude the former has shown us while secretly harboring seditious thoughts.

The known sinners in Jesus’ time were like that. They made no secrets of their opposition to God by the lives they led, yet at a point in time, they changed course and mended their ways. It was a shock to note that those who were so sure of receiving the kingdom were instead disinherited of their claimed birthright because their disobedience was not forthright. I may be both the elder and the younger son in my response to obedience but they are not ideal examples. I should mean what I say and say what I mean clearly and without pretense. Today I take my word seriously. My word is my bond.

October 2nd

The Guardian Angels

1st Reading: Zec 8:1-8:
This word of the Lord of hosts came: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I am intensely jealous for Zion, stirred to jealous wrath for her. Thus says the Lord: I will return to Zion, and I will dwell within Jerusalem; Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the holy mountain. Thus says the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women, each with staff in hand because of old age, shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem. The city shall be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets. Thus says the Lord of hosts: Even if this should seem impossible in the eyes of the remnant of this people, shall it in those days be impossible in my eyes also, says the Lord of hosts? Thus says the Lord of hosts: Lo, I will rescue my people from the land of the rising sun, and from the land of the setting sun. I will bring them back to dwell within Jerusalem. They shall be my people, and I will be their God, with faithfulness and justice.

Gospel: Mt 18:1-5, 10:
The disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me. “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”

In our churches, we are used to beautiful statues of angels on the altar in attitudes of adoration; and at the entrance of the church, offering blessed water. Angels are the invisible creation we proclaim in our Creed. They are pure spirits, without body, immortal, intelligent and free. According to tradition they constitute nine choirs: Angels, Archangels, Principalities, Powers, Virtues, Dominions, Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim. They have been obedient to the Creator’s will and they praise for ever the glory of the Trinity. But they are also sent to the world to help us in our History of Salvation.

Therefore, we see angels so often in the Old/New Testaments, especially in the life of Jesus, from his conception to his ascension. Today we celebrate the “Guardian Angels”. The gospel we read makes us recall the presence of the angels who accompany us in our earthly journey and support us in the struggles against the rebel angels, the demons who fight against our salvation. Let us remember and pray to our guardian angel; let us entrust to our angel’s protection in the daily spiritual fight while awaiting our entrance into the eternal song of adoration and glory.

October 3rd

1st Reading: Zec 8:20-23:
Thus says the Lord of hosts: There shall yet come peoples, the inhabitants of many cities; and the inhabitants of one city shall approach those of another, and say, “Come! let us go to implore the favor of the Lord”; and, “I too will go to seek the Lord.” Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to implore the favor of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts: In those days ten men of every nationality, speaking different tongues, shall take hold, yes, take hold of every Jew by the edge of his garment and say, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”

Gospel: Lk 9:51-56:
When the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers ahead of him. On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.

The First reading taken from the prophet Zechariah speaks so well of God‘s constant desire to gather all peoples into one family under His Fatherhood. A Father of a family or a parish priest will understand by heart this divine desire to have “one flock under one shepherd” (Jn 10:16). This too is the priestly prayer of Jesus: “Father may they be one as You and I are one” (Jn 17:20). This theme is also shown in today‘s Gospel reading. Jesus forbade his disciples James and John to retaliate against the Samaritans who did not welcome Him. The unwelcoming actions of the Samaritans are due to the long quarrel between the Jews and Samaritans. Jesus is not unaware of the conflict.

But, He consented to pass that way to Jerusalem. For security and to avoid confrontations, they could have passed through another way. Jesus must have a reason for passing through Samaria. He wanted to reconcile the conflict and to offer friendship and reunite them, as He is faithful to His mission as the “light to all nations.” During the civil war, President Abraham Lincoln was criticized for being soft and considerate to his enemies. Many times, he was reminded that it was his duty to destroy them. To these, his answer was, “The best way to destroy an enemy is to be friend him.” Lincoln must have learned it from Jesus. For us Christians, like Jesus, no one is an enemy but only a lost and strayed friend.

October 4th

St. Francis of Assisi

1st Reading: Neh 2:1-8:
In the month Nisan of the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when the wine was in my charge, I took some and offered it to the king. As I had never before been sad in his presence, the king asked me, “Why do you look sad? If you are not sick, you must be sad at heart.” Though I was seized with great fear, I answered the king: “May the king live forever! How could I not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been eaten out by fire?” The king asked me, “What is it, then, that you wish?” I prayed to the God of heaven and then answered the king: “If it please the king, and if your servant is deserving of your favor, send me to Judah, to the city of my ancestors’ graves, to rebuild it.”

Then the king, and the queen seated beside him, asked me how long my journey would take and when I would return. I set a date that was acceptable to him, and the king agreed that I might go. I asked the king further: “If it please the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of West-of-Euphrates, that they may afford me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah; also a letter for Asaph, the keeper of the royal park, that he may give me wood for timbering the gates of the temple-citadel and for the city wall and the house that I shall occupy.” The king granted my requests, for the favoring hand of my God was upon me.

Gospel: Lk 9:57-62:
As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding on their journey, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” And to another he said, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.” And another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” Jesus answered him, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.”

In today’s gospel reading Jesus seems to be positively discouraging eager would-be disciples from becoming full-fledged disciples. But is that really the case? It seems not. It seems he is merely warning those starry-eyes idealists that following him entails detachment from body comforts, availability and wholehearted commitment. This is illustrated in the case of the three “volunteers” featured in this passage. The first one lacks realism. He seems not to be aware that following Jesus means leaving behind one’s comfort zone and facing uncomfortable situations. Jesus reminds him that he, Jesus, is homeless.

The second wants to delay following Jesus until his old father dies. Jesus refuses any such delay. The Kingdom of God cannot wait. The third one is looking back in the direction of his family. Jesus tells him that the time has come to look forward instead, like a good plower who, because of the hardness of the Palestinian soil, has to put his full weight to hold down the plow. With Jesus, half-measures will not do. In our own lives, can we meet Jesus’ tough requirements? Are we held back by our body comforts or our family ties?

October 5th

Bl. Francis Xavier Seelos

1st Reading: Neh 8:1-4a, 5-6, 7b-12:
The whole people gathered as one in the open space before the Water Gate, and they called upon Ezra the scribe to bring forth the book of the law of Moses which the Lord prescribed for Israel. On the first day of the seventh month, therefore, Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly, which consisted of men, women, and those children old enough to understand. Standing at one end of the open place that was before the Water Gate, he read out of the book from daybreak until midday, in the presence of the men, the women, and those children old enough to understand; and all the people listened attentively to the book of the law.

Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that had been made for the occasion. He opened the scroll so that all the people might see it (for he was standing higher up than any of the people); and, as he opened it, all the people rose. Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people, their hands raised high, answered, “Amen, amen!” Then they bowed down and prostrated themselves before the Lord, their faces to the ground. As the people remained in their places, Ezra read plainly from the book of the law of God, interpreting it so that all could understand what was read.

Then Nehemiah, that is, His Excellency, and Ezra the priest-scribe and the Levites who were instructing the people said to all the people: “Today is holy to the Lord your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep”– for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law. He said further: “Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks, and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared; for today is holy to our Lord. Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength!” And the Levites quieted all the people, saying, “Hush, for today is holy, and you must not be saddened.” Then all the people went to eat and drink, to distribute portions, and to celebrate with great joy, for they understood the words that had been expounded to them.

Gospel: Lk 10:1-12:
Jesus appointed seventy-two other disciples whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you.

“Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.’ Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.’ Yet know this: the Kingdom of God is at hand. I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.”

There is always a place for anyone who wants to work on God’s project. After all, Jesus has designed it in such a way that He will not do all but leave space for others to own and continue the task that He has done. And He does train His disciples to the job. Earlier on, He gives them a chance for hands-on work. They must have the feel of the terrain so that when the time comes, they may be able to assume leadership without much difficulty. Meanwhile, they have to be mentored. And so we His modern followers are not called to do something unprepared. The capacities are already there; all Jesus does is to draw them out and to hone them. Every calling is therefore an opportunity for improvement.

October 6th

St. Bruno
Bl. Marie-Rose Durocher

1st Reading: Bar 1:15-22:
During the Babylonian captivity, the exiles prayed: “Justice is with the Lord, our God; and we today are flushed with shame, we men of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem, that we, with our kings and rulers and priests and prophets, and with our ancestors, have sinned in the Lord’s sight and disobeyed him. We have neither heeded the voice of the Lord, our God, nor followed the precepts which the Lord set before us. From the time the Lord led our ancestors out of the land of Egypt until the present day, we have been disobedient to the Lord, our God, and only too ready to disregard his voice.

“And the evils and the curse that the Lord enjoined upon Moses, his servant, at the time he led our ancestors forth from the land of Egypt to give us the land flowing with milk and honey, cling to us even today. For we did not heed the voice of the Lord, our God, in all the words of the prophets whom he sent us, but each one of us went off after the devices of his own wicked heart, served other gods, and did evil in the sight of the Lord, our God.”

Gospel: Lk 10:13-16:
Jesus said to them, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And as for you, Capernaum, ‘Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the netherworld.’ Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

The words of Jesus in today‘s gospel are very strong and are condemnatory. He condemns the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida. Chorazin is a small city not far from Capernaum, known as the town of Jesus. Jesus visited the city more frequently. Yet, despite of this and the miracles performed before their eyes, the inhabitants remained indifferent. On the other side of the lake of Galilee is the city of Bethsaida. Here, Jesus performed more miracles. He feed the five thousand out of five loaves and two fishes (Mk:30-44). He healed a blind man (Mk 8:22-26). Same with Chorazin, the people did not react nor respond to Jesus. He was so unsuccessful.

In Capernaum, Jesus stayed longer. It was his base. He was met with many oppositions. On the other side, in the cities of Tyre and Sidon, Jesus spent few times only and performed less miracles, the people repented and changed. Thus, Jesus praised Tyre and Sidon and condemned Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum. The lesson is simple: “To those who have more, more is expected. To those who have less, less is expected.” Let us all count our blessings received. Let us reciprocate it more proportionately. Those who were forgiven more must be more forgiving and merciful.

October 7th

Our Lady of the Rosary

1st Reading: Bar 4:5-12, 27-29:
Fear not, my people! Remember, Israel, You were sold to the nations not for your destruction; It was because you angered God that you were handed over to your foes. For you provoked your Maker with sacrifices to demons, to no-gods; You forsook the Eternal God who nourished you, and you grieved Jerusalem who fostered you. She indeed saw coming upon you the anger of God; and she said: “Hear, you neighbors of Zion! God has brought great mourning upon me, For I have seen the captivity that the Eternal God has brought upon my sons and daughters.

“With joy I fostered them; but with mourning and lament I let them go. Let no one gloat over me, a widow, bereft of many: For the sins of my children I am left desolate, because they turned from the law of God. Fear not, my children; call out to God! He who brought this upon you will remember you. As your hearts have been disposed to stray from God, turn now ten times the more to seek him; For he who has brought disaster upon you will, in saving you, bring you back enduring joy.”

Gospel: Lk 10:17-24:
The seventy-two disciples returned rejoicing and said to Jesus, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.” Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. Behold, I have given you the power ‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

At that very moment he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” Turning to the disciples in private he said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

There is infectious joy in the air. The disciples rejoiced at their first successful ministry. Their Master partook in their joy, celebrating their little triumph. He gave His disciples the chance to revel in the good they had done because it would help them face the obstacles and hardships they would meet in the future. But Jesus directs their attention to what they should truly celebrate. It is not their success but the fact that they are now part of God’s team. Their names are now in heaven. Successful or not later on, they should take comfort in the fact that God made them as their own. In our life, the source of our true joy should not be our work and its favorable result alone. Rather we should rejoice that God selected us to be His co-workers in the unfolding of His plan for the world.