Bible Diary for October 20th – 26th

October 20th

St. Paul of the Cross

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?”

Prayer is central to our Christian life. St. Paul tells us (1 Thes.5:17) “pray without ceasing” which is another way of saying persevere in prayer. But we must understand this nuance: perseverance in prayer is not demanding in prayer. While we pray to God for help, we leave to God’s will to send to us the kind of help that he deems best. Many have been blessed with the realization of this insight. God does not always give what we ask for, but not one who approaches him in prayer left empty-handed. Lord, help me surrender to your will in my prayers.

October 21st

1st Reading: Rom 4:20-25:
Brothers and sisters:
Abraham did not doubt God’s promise in unbelief; rather, he was empowered by faith and gave glory to God and was fully convinced that what God had promised he was also able to do. That is why it was credited to him as righteousness. But it was not for him alone that it was written that it was credited to him; it was also for us, to whom it will be credited, who believe in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over for our transgressions and was raised for our justification.

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 harves?

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.”

In November 2015, a rumored reflection of Apple’s Steve Jobs about his life, who passed away in 2011, circulated. Although found to be not Jobs’, the words it contains are amazingly thought-provoking: “I reached the pinnacle of success in the business world. In others’ eyes, my life is an epitome of success. However, aside from work, I have little joy. In the end, wealth is only a fact of life that I am accustomed to. At this moment, lying on the sick bed and recalling my whole life, I realize that all the recognition and wealth that I took so much pride in, have paled and become meaningless in the face of impending death. … Non-stop pursuing of wealth will only turn a person into a twisted being, just like me.”

It is a fact of life that man desires security in life. We pursue things to give that sense of guarantee that we have positioned a better future for ourselves. But things can go awry when our attention gains momentum in focusing only on material possessions. This can make us blind, twisted according to the essay, oblivious of things that truly matter. Yes, we can be rich in this life but let us not lose sight of the after-life.

October 22nd

St. John Paul II

1st Reading: Rom 5:12, 15b, 17-19, 20b-21:
Brothers and sisters:
Through one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned. If by that one person’s transgression the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many. For if, by the transgression of the one, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one Jesus Christ.

In conclusion, just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so, through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all. For just as through the disobedience of one man the many were made sinners, so, through the obedience of the one the many will be made righteous. Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Gospel: Lk 12:35-38:
Jesus said to his disciples, “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 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!”

There will be an end of time. An ordinary understanding of this is that it points to the end of the world. However, some would maintain that this may also mean the end of one’s life (death) if one will not survive to witness the world’s end. But let’s face it, many are scared of the end of time. Probably because of its accompanying catastrophic and cataclysmic occurrences. There will be horrifying scenes of loss and destruction. Fortunately, Sacred Scriptures gives us a better picture. The end of time is not just about disasters, it is also about the return of the Lord, something we should not be sacred of but look forward to.

The Lord’s return is certain (cf. Acts 1:11; Rev. 22:12). But the certainty of this return is not certain, meaning we do not know exactly when. But this is not of concern to us. What is important is that when this happens, the Lord will find us actively prepared: doing service in his household (the Church), faithful to him, watching, and waiting. Great shall be the reward of the servant found not lazy but eagerly anticipating for the Master’s return. There will be a great reversal. Instead of the Master enjoying the feast, the servant will be blessed with it which is no other than the participation in the great banquet of heaven.

October 23rd

St. John of Capistrano

1st Reading: Rom 6:12-18:
Brothers and sisters:
Sin must not reign over your mortal bodies so that you obey their desires. And do not present the parts of your bodies to sin as weapons for wickedness, but present yourselves to God as raised from the dead to life and the parts of your bodies to God as weapons for righteousness. For sin is not to have any power over you, since you are not under the law but under grace.

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? Of course not! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, although you were once slaves of sin, you have become obedient from the heart to the pattern of teaching to which you were entrusted. Freed from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness.

Gospel: Lk 12:39-48:
Jesus said to his disciples, “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 food rations 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. “(…) The servant who knew his master’s will, but did not prepare to do what his master wanted, will be punished with sound blows; but the one who did what deserved a punishment without knowing it shall receive fewer blows. Much will be required of the one who has been given much, and more will be asked of the one 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 24th

St. Anthony Mary Claret

1st Reading: Rom 6:19-23:
Brothers and sisters:
I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your nature. For just as you presented the parts of your bodies as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness for lawlessness, so now present them as slaves to righteousness for sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from righteousness.

But what profit did you get then from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit that you have leads to sanctification, and its end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Gospel: Lk 12:49-53:
Jesus said to his disciples, “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 over! “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.”

Is the Lord divisive? One answer is no. Jesus desires unity. This was in fact revealed to us in the so-called high priestly prayer of Jesus in the Gospel of St. John (cf. John 17: 21). Even St. Pope John Paul II acknowledged this as a challenge to the Church from the Lord in his 1995 encyclical Ut Unum Sint, quoting Vatican II decree Unitatis Redintegratio: “the Church is… sent to the world to announce and witness, to make present and spread the mystery of communion which is essential to her, and to gather all people and all things into Christ, so as to be for all an ‘inseparable sacrament of unity’” (5).

God’s eternal plan is to put all things united under Christ (cf. Eph. 1:9-10). And, needless to say, yes, Christ also brings peace (cf. Eph. 2:14). But placed in the context of the whole Chapter 12 of Luke’s gospel, another answer to the question “Is the Lord divisive?” is yes! The Lord’s return demands faith, and faith is a choice. In life, as we prepare for his return, it is either we are on his side or against him. Our choice might create opposition even from our family. But the wisest option is to be on the side of Christ because our loyalty to him will matter most in his return than our fidelity to family ties.

October 25th

1st Reading: Rom 7:18-25a:
Brothers and sisters:
I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh. The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. So, then, I discover the principle that when I want to do right, evil is at hand.

For I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self, but I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body? Thanks be 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.”

In general, a sign is an indicator that suggests or signals the presence of some condition. And in general, too, we are very good in this. We know that the existence of smoke indicates fire, the heavy clouds warn of an impending rain, high body temperature hints at fever. Our farmers know the right time for planting just looking up at the sky. But we seem to miss seeing signs in other aspects of our life that could bring much spiritual and transcendent benefits. The many things that we go through in life could also be signs telling us about our spiritual health and the state of our faith.

Other than looking at the conditions of our environment we should be cognizant of order of our life as followers of Jesus. Jesus is at work in our life in many mysterious ways. But we recognize Him at work only in those positive ones. Many times, we fail to recognize that even in the seemingly negative happenings the Lord gives us signs that require sound interpretation and judgment. We overlook the message that could bring us to the right path, just as we fail to notice the blessings that misfortunes bring.

October 26th

1st Reading: Rom 8:1-11:
Brothers and sisters:
Now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed you from the law of sin and death. For what the law, weakened by the flesh, was powerless to do, this God has done: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for the sake of sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous decree of the law might be fulfilled in us, who live not according to the flesh but according to the spirit. For those who live according to the flesh are concerned with the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit with the things of the spirit.

The concern of the flesh is death, but the concern of the spirit is life and peace. For the concern of the flesh is hostility toward God; it does not submit to the law of God, nor can it; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness. If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you.

Gospel: Lk 13:1-9:
Some persons told Jesus what had occurred in the Temple: Pilate had Galileans killed and their blood mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus replied, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this? I tell you: no. 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 with this story, “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 use up the ground?’ The gardener replied: ‘Leave it one more year, so that I may dig around it and add some fertilizer; and perhaps it will bear fruit from now on. But if it doesn’t, you can cut it down.”

Earlier, “publish or perish” became the hashtag of many universities. This is because tertiary educators are required to do research and publish. The consequence when this requirement is not complied with is of course to “perish”, meaning, to be out of the academe. It is argued that such a requirements is unreasonable and is unmindful of consequent inconveniences added to the already loaded responsibilities of teachers. But the education sector stood on its ground asserting that this has always been part of the conditions for college teachers. “Publish or perish” is an intimidating phrase.

But more frightening is “change your ways (repent) or perish”. The Lord has indeed more serious demands. That is why one author said that Christianity is not for the weak of heart but for the strong. It is only for those who can rise up to the challenge, to truly change their ways, and become productive as the Lord expects. And we cannot argue that this is unreasonable and that this adds more difficulty to our already difficult life. We were not coerced to become Christians. We made that choice. At that time that following Jesus became our decision, we knew the expectation.