Bible Diary for October 4th – 10th

October 4th

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. Francis of Assisi

1st Reading: Is 5:1–7:
Let me sing for my beloved my love-song about his vineyard. My beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up, cleared the stones, and planted the choicest vines. He built there a watchtower and hewed out a wine press as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only wild grapes.  Now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more was there to do that I have not done for my vineyard? Good grapes was the yield I expected.

Why did it yield only sour grapes? Now I will let you know what I am going to do with my vineyard: I will remove its hedge and it will be burned; I will break down its wall and it will be trampled on. I will make it a wasteland, I will neither prune nor hoe it, and briers and thorns will grow there. I command the clouds, as well, not to send rain on it. The vineyard of Yahweh Sabbath is the people of Israel; and the people of Judah are his pleasant vine. He looked for justice, but found bloodshed; He looked for righteousness but heard cries of distress.

2nd Reading: Phil 4:6–9:
Do not be anxious about anything. In everything, resort to prayer and supplication, together, with thanksgiving, and bring your requests before God. Then, the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with whatever is truthful, holy, just, pure, lovely and noble. Be mindful of whatever deserves praise and admiration. Put into practice what you have learned from me, what I passed on to you, what you heard from me or saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you.

Gospel: Mt 21:33–43:
Listen to another example: “There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a fence around it, dug a hole for the wine press, built a watchtower, leased the vineyard to tenants, and then, went to a distant country. When harvest time came, the landowner sent his servants to the tenants to collect his share of the harvest. But the tenants seized his servants, beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Again, the owner sent more servants; but they were treated in the same way. Finally, he sent his son, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they thought, ‘This is the one who is to inherit the vineyard. Let us kill him, and his inheritance will be ours.’ So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Now, what will the owner of the vineyard do with the tenants when he comes?”

They said to him, “He will bring those evil men to an evil end, and lease the vineyard to others, who will pay him in due time.” And Jesus replied, “Have you never read what the Scriptures say? The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and we marvel at it. Therefore I say to you: the kingdom of heaven will be taken from you, and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”

Jesus has an ongoing conversation with the chief priests and elders in view of having a common agreement with the teachings of Jesus. However, the rift and the divide get wider and bigger. No matter how much Jesus tried, the religious leaders were set in their ways and convinced of their own righteousness. Thus they missed the time of their visitation. There is nothing as unfortunate as a closed mind and a hard head.

Throw in pride and you have a deadly combination. How have I been behaving lately with regard to the things that I have? Do I have an owner’s mentality or that of a steward? Today I am reminded by the Gospel that all I have comes from the Lord and I have to administer them wisely and should respond to this generous God with my own acts of generosity to others. I should care more for what I have and share these resources to others to the best that I can.

October 5th

Bl. Francis Xavier Seelos

1st Reading: Gal 1:6–12:
I am surprised at how quickly you have abandoned God, who called you, according to the grace of Christ, and have gone to another gospel. Indeed, there is no other gospel, but some people, who are sowing confusion among you, want to turn the gospel of Christ upside down. But even if we, ourselves, were giving you another gospel, different from the one we preached to you, or if it were an angel from heaven, I would say: let God’s curse be on him!

As I have said, I now say again: if anyone preaches the gospel in a way other than you received it, fire that one! Are we to please humans or obey God? Do you think that I try to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Let me remind you, brothers and sisters, that the gospel we preached to you is not a human message, nor did I receive it from anyone, I was not taught of it; but it came to me, as a revelation from Christ Jesus.

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 law? 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 question, so he asked, “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 also 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 in 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 said, ‘Take care of him, and whatever you spend on him, I will repay when I return.’” 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, “Then go and do the same.”

It is easier to memorize the laws and precepts that would lead to a good life. If you possess a better than average intelligence, committing them to memory would be a breeze. But their actual application to life is something else. It is not only the brain that is involved here. The heart and soul must follow what has been recognized by the head. They too must give their own inputs to make the concepts operational. This is the area which we find most difficult. Concepts are easy to wrestle with; how to act on them is not. And so we are like the young man of the Gospel asking the Lord to show us the way. Jesus was not called Teacher for nothing. He teaches us the correct application of the things we learned from Him.

October 6th

St. Bruno
Bl. Marie-Rose Durocher

1st Reading: Gal 1:13–24:
You have heard of my previous activity in the Jewish community; I furiously persecuted the Church of God and tried to destroy it. For I was more devoted to the Jewish religion than many fellow Jews of my age, and I defended the traditions of my ancestors more fanatically. But one day, God called me, out of his great love, he, who had chosen me from my mother’s womb; and he was pleased to reveal, in me, his Son, that I might make him known among the pagan nations. Then, I did not seek human advice nor did I go up to Jerusalem, to those who were apostles before me.

I immediately went to Arabia, and from there, I returned, again, to Damascus. Later, after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to meet Cephas, and I stayed with him for fifteen days. But I did not see any other apostle except James, the Lord’s brother. On writing this to you, I affirm before God that I am not lying. After that, I went to Syria and Cilicia. The churches of Christ in Judea did not know me personally; they had only heard of me: “He, who once persecuted us, is now preaching the faith he tried to uproot.” And they praised God because of me.

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.”

Sitting at the feet of the Lord or serving Him by serving others: these are the two sides of following of the Lord. Both are equally important. But in the order of doing, listening to the voice of the Master and strengthening our relationship with Him takes precedence. Our doing should be grounded on our attentive listening to God and any apostolate that we undertake should spring from our prayer.

Without this sitting at the master’s feet, all our actions would be bereft of guidance and direction coming from the Lord. Putting into effect His will is already hard. Putting into operation our will would be harder. This is the reason why Mary had chosen the better portion. It was the better part to start working for God’s project.

October 7th

Our Lady of the Rosary

1st Reading: Gal 2:1–2, 7–14:
After fourteen years, I, again, went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and Titus came with us. Following a revelation, I went, to lay before them the gospel that I am preaching to the pagans. I had a private meeting with the leaders—lest I should be working, or have worked, in a wrong way. They recognized that I have been entrusted to give the Good News to the pagan nations, just as Peter has been entrusted to give it to the Jews.

In the same way that God made Peter the apostle of the Jews, he made me the apostle of the pagans. James, Cephas and John acknowledged the graces God gave me. Those men, who were regarded as the pillars of the Church, stretched out their hand to me and Barnabas, as a sign of fellowship; we would go to the pagans, and they, to the Jews.

We should only keep in mind, the poor among them. I have taken care to do this. When, later, Cephas came to Antioch, I confronted him, since he deserved to be blamed. Before some of James’ people arrived, he used to eat with non-Jewish people. But when they arrived, he withdrew, and did not mingle anymore with them, for fear of the Jewish group. The rest of the Jews followed him in this pretense, and even Barnabas was part of this insincerity. When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas publicly: If you, who are Jewish, agreed to live like the non-Jews, setting aside the Jewish customs, why do you, now, compel the non-Jews to live like Jews?

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, as John also 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.”

We have fond memories of those we love. These memories mark our understanding and appreciation of their person. The disciples’ memory of Jesus is marked by His deep and profound prayer life. So much so that they were inspired to emulate His example. They asked Him to teach them how to pray. Because of this, the only prayer that Jesus taught them and us is the one recorded in the Gospel.

The Our Father is simply strings of words that convey our sentiments to the Father. By itself it could not bring us to holiness. It is what happens inside, the inner transformation that matters. Jesus can only teach us the words He used while praying. It is our own personal labor to put substance to these borrowed words in our life.

October 8th

1st Reading: Gal 3:1–5:
How foolish you are, Galatians!  How could they bewitch you after Jesus Christ has been presented to you as crucified? I shall ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by the practice of the law, or by believing the message? How can you be such fools: you begin with the Spirit and end up with the flesh! So, you have experienced all this in vain! Would that, it were not so! Did God give you the Spirit, and work miracles among you because of your observance of the law, or because you believed in his message?

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.”

Persistence is the greater part of asking. This is proven in the Gospel by the insistent friend to the point of being a nuisance. The problem is, sometimes when we ask something from the Lord we are sensitive and easily slighted. A small delay, some inconveniences, that come with the asking and silence from God are interpreted as rejection and we easily give up, sore at the Lord who does not accede to our wishes. But beggars can’t be choosers. They cannot dictate the terms in this particular transaction. They can only wait. So while waiting, we have to keep up the effort. God surrenders willingly to those who are persistent.

October 9th

St. Denis and Companions
St. John Leonardi

1st Reading: Gal 3:7–14:
Understand, then, that those who follow the way of faith are sons and daughters of Abraham. The Scriptures foresaw that, by the way of faith, God would give true righteousness to the non-Jewish nations. For God’s promise to Abraham was this: In you shall all the nations be blessed. So, now, those who take the way of faith receive the same blessing as Abraham, who believed; but those who rely on the practice of the law are under a curse, for it is written: Cursed is everyone who does not always fulfill everything written in the law.

It is plainly written that no one becomes righteous in God’s way, by the law: by faith the righteous shall live. Yet the law gives no place to faith, for according to it: the one who fulfills the commandments shall have life through them. Now Christ rescued us from the curse of the law, by becoming cursed himself, for our sake, as it is written: there is a curse on everyone who is hanged on a tree. So the blessing granted to Abraham, reached the pagan nations in, and, with Christ, and we received the promised Spirit, through faith.

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.”

Those who will not believe will always find a reason to reinforce their unbelief. They might go through the motions of searching for the truth but since their heart is set, no amount of proof will sway them. In today’s Gospel, people accused Jesus of driving demons by the power of the prince of demons, Beelzebul. Others wanted that He justify Himself by way of heavenly signs.

There was not much that could be done here since they had already judged Him. So Jesus did not indulge their pettiness.  Rather he strove to reason with them to demonstrate that His healing could not possibly come from the evil one. After all, the healings He did were miraculous signs that unfolded before their very eyes yet they refused to believe. One more would not make a difference.

October 10th

1st Reading: Gal 3:22–29:
But the Scriptures have declared, that we are all prisoners of sin. So, the only way to receive God’s promise is to believe in Jesus Christ. Before the time of faith had come, the law confined us, and kept us in custody, until the time in which faith would show up. The law, then, was serving as a slave, to look after us until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith.

With the coming of faith, we are no longer submitted to this guidance. Now, in Christ Jesus, all of you are sons and daughters of God, through faith. All of you, who were given to Christ through Baptism, have put on Christ. Here, there is no longer any difference between Jew or Greek, or between slave or freed, or between man and woman: but all of you are one, in Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Christ, you are of Abraham’s race and you are to inherit God’s promise.

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, “Truly blessed are those who hear the word of God, and keep it as well.”

At first glance, Jesus seemed to deflect the praise given to His mother and re-channel it instead to those who hear God’s word and keep it. But a deeper reading of His words will tell us that He is elevating the virtues of Mary, not because she was His biological mother but because she accepted the Word of God without hesitation and allowed herself to be God’s vessel in the incarnation of His Son.

It is true that Mary’s blessedness will always be connected to Jesus. That is why the woman in the crowd praised her because she had an extraordinary Son. But the Son would not have been Man if not for Mary’s docility to God’s word. That is why the Son praised his mother because of her extraordinary reception of, and obedience to, the word of God.