Bible Diary for October 3rd – 9th

October 3rd

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

1st Reading: Gen 2:18-24:
Yahweh God said, “It is not good for Man to be alone; I will give him a helper who will be like him.” Then Yahweh God formed from the earth all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air and brought them to Man to see what he would call them; and whatever Man called every living creature, that was its name. So man gave names to all the cattle, the birds of the air and to every beast of the field. But he did not find among them a helper like himself.

“Then Yahweh God caused a deep sleep to come over Man and he fell asleep. He took one of his ribs and filled its place with flesh. The rib which Yahweh God had taken from Man he formed into a woman and brought her to the man. The man then said, “Now this is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman because she was taken from man.” That is why man leaves his father and mother and is attached to his wife, and with her becomes one flesh.

2nd Reading: Heb 2:9-11:
But Jesus who suffered death and for a little while was placed lower than the angels has been crowned with honor and glory. For the merciful plan of God demanded that he experience death on behalf of everyone. God, from whom all come and by whom all things exist, wanted to bring many children to glory, and he thought it fitting to make perfect through suffering the initiator of their salvation. So he who gives and those who receive holiness are one. He himself is not ashamed of calling us brothers and sisters.

Gospel: Mk 10:2-16:
Some (Pharisees came and) put him to the test with this question, “Is it right for a husband to divorce his wife?” He replied, “What law did Moses give you?” They answered, “Moses allowed us to write a certificate of dismissal in order to divorce.” Then Jesus said to them, “Moses wrote this law for you, because you have hearts of stone. But in the beginning of creation God made them male and female, and because of this, man has to leave father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one body. So they are no longer two but one body. Therefore let no one separate what God has joined.”

When they were indoors at home, the disciples again asked him about this and he told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against his wife, and the woman who divorces her husband and marries another also commits adultery.” People were bringing their little children to him to have him touch them, and the disciples rebuked them for this. When Jesus noticed it, he was very angry and said, “Let the children come to me and don’t stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and laying his hands on them, blessed them.

The norms of heaven are sometimes difficult to follow in the light of human weakness but nevertheless they remain as the norm. Earth may compromise and for a time the compromise may seem to be the new normal, but that which was ordained in heaven must remain in place. This is necessary so that the compromise will not lead to other compromises which would eventually water down the original intention of the norm. Thus there is a need to guard against relaxation. There are many things about the Church that I may not necessarily agree. What are these?

Perhaps an inventory of my honest disagreements with the teachings of the Church is necessary for me to see where my disagreements come from, whether they are valid or where I need to deepen further my reflection and understanding towards these subjects. Today is a good day to wrestle with what I believe. Lord, make me an ardent searcher of the truth. Cleanse my hearts and minds so that my own personal beliefs and inclinations do not cloud my mind and heart when truth presents itself to me and it is not according to my expectations. May I be humble enough to accept the illumination of Your Truth, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

October 4th

St. Francis of Assisi

1st Reading: Jon 1:1–2:1-2, 11:
This is the word of the Lord that came to Jonah, son of Amittai:“Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and preach against it; their wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah made ready to flee to Tarshish away from the Lord. He went down to Joppa, found a ship going to Tarshish, paid the fare, and went aboard to journey with them to Tarshish, away from the Lord. The Lord, however, hurled a violent wind upon the sea, and in the furious tempest that arose the ship was on the point of breaking up. Then the mariners became frightened and each one cried to his god. To lighten the ship for themselves, they threw its cargo into the sea. Meanwhile, Jonah had gone down into the hold of the ship, and lay there fast asleep.

The captain came to him and said, “What are you doing asleep? Rise up, call upon your God! Perhaps God will be mindful of us so that we may not perish.”Then they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots to find out on whose account we have met with this misfortune.” So they cast lots, and thus singled out Jonah. “Tell us,” they said, “what is your business? Where do you come from? What is your country, and to what people do you belong?” Jonah answered them, “I am a Hebrew, I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”

Now the men were seized with great fear and said to him, “How could you do such a thing!– They knew that he was fleeing from the Lord, because he had told them.–They asked, “What shall we do with you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea was growing more and more turbulent. Jonah said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea, that it may quiet down for you; since I know it is because of me that this violent storm has come upon you.”Still the men rowed hard to regain the land, but they could not, for the sea grew ever more turbulent.

Then they cried to the Lord: “We beseech you, O Lord, let us not perish for taking this man’s life; do not charge us with shedding innocent blood, for you, Lord, have done as you saw fit.” Then they took Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea’s raging abated. Struck with great fear of the Lord, the men offered sacrifice and made vows to him. But the Lord sent a large fish, that swallowed Jonah; and Jonah remained in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. From the belly of the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord, his God. Then the Lord commanded the fish to spew Jonah upon the shore.

Gospel: Lk 10:25-37:
Then a teacher of the Law came and began putting Jesus to the test. And he said, “Master, what shall I do to receive eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What is written in the Scripture? How do you understand it?” The man answered, “It is written: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus replied, “What a good answer! Do this and you shall live.” The man wanted to justify his questions, so he replied, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus then said, “There was a man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell into the hands of robbers.

They stripped him, beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. It happened that a priest was going along that road and saw the man, but passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite saw the man and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, too, was going that way, and when he came upon the man, he was moved with compassion. He went over to him and cleaned his wounds with oil and wine and wrapped them with bandages.

Then he put him on his own mount and brought him to an inn where he took care of him. The next day he had to set off, but he gave two silver coins to the innkeeper and told him: ‘Take care of him and whatever you spend on him, I will repay when I come back.’” Jesus then asked, “Which of these three, do you think, made himself neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The teacher of the Law answered, “the one who had mercy on him.” And Jesus said, “Go then and do the same.”

Any time I see a poor person lying down in distress and misery on the streets, I instinctively think of the parable of the Good Samaritan. As usual, Jesus chooses the precise details to strike at the heart of the audience, and especially the teacher of the Law who asked him about the neighbor. Everybody knew the road from Jerusalem to Jericho with its curbs and the dangers of bandits. The wounded man is an absolutely innocent victim. He is alone and abandoned, unable to help himself. He is “half-dead.” In this story, Jesus places a Priest and a Levite, both from the special tribe at the service of the worship. Both pass on the other side.

They avoid being contaminated by the poor man. Instead, a Samaritan who belongs to the despised neighbors and are considered heretics by Jews, is moved with compassion. The Lord describes all the possible details: the Samaritan treated the poor man’s wounds with oil and wine, wrapped those with bandages, put him on his own mount, brought him to an inn, paid for him to the innkeeper and promised to repay upon coming back. Who of us has done something similar even just once? Do we love our neighbor? Jesus, Good Samaritan of the humankind, be our strength and our model.

October 5th

Bl. Fracis Xavier Seelos

1st Reading: Jon 3:1-10:
The word of Yahweh came to Jonah a second time: “Go to Nineveh, the great city, and announce to them the message I give you.” In obedience to the word of Yahweh, Jonah went to Nineveh. It was a very large city, and it took three days just to cross it. So Jonah walked a single day’s journey and began proclaiming, “Forty days more and Nineveh will be destroyed.” The people of the city believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.

Upon hearing the news, the king of Nineveh got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, put on sackcloth and sat down in ashes. He issued a proclamation throughout Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles, no people or beasts, herd or flock, will taste anything; neither will they eat nor drink. But let people and beasts be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call aloud to God, turn from his evil ways and violence. Who knows? God may yet relent, turn from his fierce anger and spare us.” When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened upon them.

Gospel: Lk 10:38-42:
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he entered a village and a woman called Martha welcomed him to her house. She had a sister named Mary who sat down at the Lord’s feet to listen to his words. Martha, meanwhile, was busy with all the serving and finally she said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work? Tell her to help me!” But the Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you worry and are troubled about many things, whereas only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken away from her.”

What do we think: are we Martha? Are we Mary? The correct answer should be: Neither. We are we, but the examples from the Bible and the words of Jesus are written for our spiritual reflection and edification. In some sense we are Martha; many times we have been angry with our brothers and sisters for not helping us in our stressful work. The words of Martha have been our own expressions before our superiors.

Today we receive Jesus’ lesson: let us put order and peace in our work. In some sense, we are Mary; every day we have moments of sitting at the feet of the Lord, just listening to his voice and praying. Jesus reinforces the contemplative aspect of our Christian vocation and encourages us to remain faithful. Prayer puts us in contact with eternal life. Hence, we perceive better both the active aspect – service – and the contemplative aspect – prayer of our life. Let us deepen it according to the personal name we received from the Lord.

October 6th

St. Bruno
Bl. Marie-Rose Durocher

1st Reading: Jon 4:1-11:
But Jonah was greatly displeased at this, and he was indignant. He prayed to Yahweh and said, “O Yahweh, is this not what I said when I was yet in my own country? This is why I fled to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God, low to anger and full of love, and you relent from imposing terrible punishment. I beseech you now, Yahweh, to take my life, for now it is better for me to die than to live.” But Yahweh replied, “What right have you to be angry?” Jonah then left the city. He went to a place east of it, built himself a shelter and sat under its shade to wait and see what would happen to Nineveh.

Then Yahweh God provided a castor-oil plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade over his head and to ease his discomfort. Jonah was very happy about the plant. But the next day, at dawn, God sent a worm which attacked the plant and made it wither. When the sun rose, God sent a scorching east wind; the sun blazed down upon Jonah’s head, and he grew faint. His death wish returned and he said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”

Then God asked Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry about the castor-oil plant?” Jonah answered, “I am right to be angry enough to wish to die.” Yahweh said, “You are concerned about a plant which cost you no labor to make it grow. Overnight it sprang up, and overnight it perished. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot distinguish right from left and they have many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned for such a great city?

Gospel: Lk 11:1-4:
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” And Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say this: Father, may your name be held holy, may your kingdom come; give us each day the kind of bread we need, and forgive us our sins, for we also forgive all who do us wrong; and do not bring us to the test.”

In the gospels we get some hints about the time and the place of when the Lord prayed: night, mountain, loneliness…We don’t know the prayer of John the Baptist, but are grateful to the suggestion of this disciple of Jesus. We hear today the short tradition about the prayer of the Lord. Let us underline the keywords: “Father.“ Jesus shares with us his personal experience of God as Father. “May your name be held holy.”

The name of God is his real being, and we asked for his acknowledgment in our minds and deeds. “May your kingdom come”: we ask for the fullness of the grace of God among us in glory. “Give us each day the kind of bread we need”: this is a nuanced expression for our sustenance, invoking the Providence. “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive all who do us wrong”: this is a constant teaching of Jesus in words and parables: to get God’s pardon we have always to forgive. “And do not bring us to the test”: may the Lord protect us from all kinds of spiritual danger. This prayer will shape the heart of Christians into Jesus’ heart.

October 7th

Our Lady of the Rosary

1st Reading: Mal 3:13-20b:
You say very harsh things about me, says Yahweh, and yet you say: “What harsh things did we say against you?” You say: “It is useless to serve God. There is no benefit in observing his commandments or in leading an austere life for his sake. Happy are the shameless! Those who do evil succeed in everything; though they provoke God, they remain unharmed.” Those were the very words of those who fear Yahweh. Yahweh listened and heard what they said. He ordered at once that the names of those who respect him and reverence his Name be written in a record.

And he declared, “They will be mine on the day I have already set. Then I shall care for them as a father cares for his obedient son. And you will see the different fates of the good and the bad, those who obey God and those who disobey him. The day already comes, flaming as a furnace. On that day all the proud and evildoers will be burned like straw in the fire. They will be left without branches or roots. On the other hand the sun of justice will shine upon you who respect my Name and bring health in its rays.

Gospel: Lk 11:5-13:
Jesus said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to his house in the middle of the night and says: ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine who is traveling has just arrived and I have nothing to offer him.’ Maybe your friend will answer from inside: ‘Don’t bother me now; the door is locked and my children and I are in bed, so I can’t get up and give you anything.’ But I tell you, even though he will not get up and attend to you because you are a friend, yet he will get up because you are a bother to him, and he will give you all you need.

“And so I say to you, ‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For the one who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to him who knocks the door will be opened. If your child asks for a fish, will you give him a snake instead? And if your child asks for an egg, will you give him a scorpion? If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

Once more Jesus paints for us a common scene of our life to understand the conditions of prayer. In our life today, while we are resting, hearing a call at the gates or from the phone or mobile is always very annoying. We get up with difficulty and answer. The call may be urgent, as in the parable. We don’t know. Jesus encourages us to be persevering in our supplication and promises a good outcome. The comparison with family relations is very pedagogical yet striking: a father never would give a snake or a scorpion to his child. So, in the furrow of the Lord’s Prayer we are reassured: our Father will give us the supreme gift which is the Holy Spirit, if we ask perseveringly for it. Let us wholeheartedly trust in the promise of Jesus.

October 8th

1st Reading: Jl 1:13-15; 2:1-2:
Gird yourselves, O priests, and weep; mourn, O ministers of the altar. Come, spend the night in sackcloth, O ministers of my God! For the House of your God is deprived of grain and drink offering. Proclaim a fast, call an assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land into the House of your God, and cry out to Yahweh, “What a dreadful day—the day of Yahweh that draws near and comes as ruin from the Almighty! Blow the trumpet in Zion, sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all dwellers in the land tremble, for the day of Yahweh is coming. Yes, the day is fast approaching—a day of gloom and darkness, a day of clouds and blackness. A vast and mighty army comes, like dawn spreading over the mountain, such as has never occurred before nor will happen again in the future.

Gospel: Lk 11:15-26:
Yet some of them said, “He drives out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the chief of the demons.” Others wanted to put him to the test, by asking him for a heavenly sign. But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them, “Every nation divided by civil war is on the road to ruin, and will fall. If Satan also is divided, his empire is coming to an end. How can you say that I drive out demons by calling upon Beelzebul? If I drive them out by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons drive out demons? They will be your judges, then. But if I drive out demons by the finger of God; would not this mean that the kingdom of God has come upon you?

“As long as a man, strong and well armed, guards his house, his goods are safe. But when a stronger man attacks and overcomes him, the challenger takes away all the weapons he relied on, and disposes of his spoils. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me, scatters. When the evil spirit goes out of a person, it wanders through dry lands, looking for a resting place; and finding none, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ When it comes, it finds the house swept and everything in order. Then it goes to fetch seven other spirits, even worse than itself. They move in and settle there, so that  the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

Jesus drove out a demon of a dumb person. Then the mute person spoke and the people were amazed. At this moment the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law accused Jesus of involvement with Satan. The Lord then delivered this deep teaching about demons. First, he gives a logic argument: the devil cannot struggle against the devil. A civil war is the beginning of a total decay. All the more, some Jews are doing exorcisms in the name of Jesus, but above all, Jesus himself is the “stronger” warrior that overcomes evil spirit, takes away his weapons and disposes of his spoils.

His death and resurrection have this very meaning. He is “the finger of God,” his powerful arm, that shows the presence of the Kingdom. All our confidence is there. Since our baptism, we have been gathered with Jesus. Nevertheless, we must be faithful. Otherwise, the jealousy of the demon will try to assail anew his old possession. Insofar as our faith in Jesus is steadfast, our victory is assured: “You will have trouble in the world; but, courage! I have overcome the world” (Jn 16: 33).

October 9th

St. Denis and Companions
St. John Leonardi

1st Reading: Jl 4:12-21:
Rise up, O peoples, and come to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, nations. Bring a sickle for the harvest is ripe; come and tread for the winepress is full and the vats overflow, so great is their wickedness! Multitudes and more multitudes in the Valley of Verdict! The day of Yahweh is near in the Valley of Verdict! The sun and the moon become dark, the stars lose their radiance. Yahweh roars from Zion and raises his voice from Jerusalem; heaven and earth are shaken. Indeed Yahweh is a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the Israelites. You will know that I am Yahweh, your God, dwelling on Zion, my holy mountain. Jerusalem will be a holy place, and foreigners will never pass through there again.

On that day the mountains shall drip wine and the hills flow with milk; all the streams of Judah will run with water and a fountain will spring from the House of Yahweh, and water the valley of Shittim. On the other hand, Egypt will be devastated and Edom will become a deserted wasteland because they committed violence against Judah, and shed innocent blood in their country. But Judah will be inhabited forever, and Jerusalem through all generations. And I shall avenge their blood and not leave it unpunished, for Yahweh dwells in Zion.

Gospel: Lk 11:27-28:
As Jesus was speaking, a woman spoke from the crowd and said to him, “Blessed is the one who gave you birth and nursed you!” Jesus replied, “Surely blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it as well.”

The Gospel is a very popular praise of Mary, given by an anonymous woman in the midst of the crowd. These kinds of spontaneous exclamations are frequent in the south of Spain. As an insult to the mother is a terrible offence, a praise of the mother provokes wonderful satisfaction and is a motive of joy. Once I remember an old lady telling my mother that according to her, she was a suitable mother of a priest. Both my mother and I who were present, were very happy. Are we grateful and proud of our mother? It is well to have a good attitude to foster our integration and generosity. As usual, Jesus transforms the human praise and gives new depth.

True happiness is in the accomplishment of the word of God. Let us do an application. As Christians, on the one hand our spiritual Mother in Christ is Mary who we recognize with gratitude. On the other hand, our Mother is also the Church: she begets us in Baptism, instructs us in Catechesis and Homilies, nourishes us in the Eucharist and supports us through the other Sacraments. Let us be grateful and proud of our Mother, the Holy Catholic Church, and let us contribute to her spiritual maternity through our apostolate and mission.