Bible Diary for October 6th – 12th

October 6th

St. Bruno
Bl. Marie-Rose Durocher

1st Reading: Hb 1:2-3; 2:2-4:
Yahweh, how long will I cry for help while you pay no attention to me? I denounce the oppression and you do not save. Why do you make me see injustice? Are you pleased to look on tyranny? All I see is outrage, violence and quarrels. Then Yahweh answered me and said, “Write down the vision, inscribe it on tablets so it can be easily read, since this is a vision for an appointed time; it will not fail but will be fulfilled in due time. If it delays, wait for it, for it will come, and will not be deferred. Look: I don’t look with favor on the one who gives way; the upright, on the other hand, will live by his faithfulness.”

2nd Reading: 2 Tim 1:6-8, 13-14:
For this reason, I invite you to fan into a flame, the gift of God you received, through the laying on of my hands. For God did not confer on us a spirit of fearfulness, but of strength, love and good judgment. Do not be ashamed of testifying to our Lord, nor of seeing me in chains. On the contrary, do your share in laboring for the gospel, with the strength of God. Follow the pattern of the sound doctrine which you have heard from me, concerning faith, and love in Christ Jesus. Keep this precious deposit, with the help of the Holy Spirit, who lives within us.

Gospel: Lk 17:5-10:
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” And the Lord said, “If you have faith, even the size of a mustard seed, you may say to this tree, ‘Be uprooted, and plant yourself in the sea!’ and it will obey you. Who among you would say to your servant, coming in from the fields after plowing or tending sheep, ‘Go ahead and have your dinner’? No, you tell him, ‘Prepare my dinner. Put on your apron, and wait on me while I eat and drink. You can eat and drink afterward.’ Do you thank this servant for doing what you told him to do? I don’t think so. And therefore, when you have done all that you have been told to do, you should say, ‘We are no more than servants; we have only done our duty.’”

Why do we give our best in the things that we do? Why do we fulfill the responsibilities entrusted to us with our finest efforts? Why do we labor for God? For recognition? For reward? Or to please God? Real servants do their best to please their masters not thinking of anything in return or in exchange. They do their tasks simply because it is expected of them. Lord, inspire me to serve without counting the cost and without expecting any reward.

October 7th

Our Lady of the Rosary

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 re plied, “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.”

Jesus was born into a world with prevalent social groupings. Sacred Scriptures would point to such groups as the scribes, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Jews, the Romans, the Samaritans, the outcasts, etc. Naturally there was widespread division in society, and in many cases, bitter rivalries. Membership in one makes you an ally, but makes you an enemy of the opponent group. Hence one is regarded either as a friend or as a foe. Those who are considered neighbors and definitely only the friends.

Jesus uses the parable of the Good Samaritan to redefine who is a neighbor. We can have a very narrow understanding of who our neighbors are. At best we can easily point to those who live with us in the same territory or those who are our “ka-barrio”, “ka-purok”, or those who live within the vicinity of our residences. But the teaching of Jesus emphasizes a new understanding of who our neighbor is. Our neighbor is everybody; we all belong to one family. Therefore, Christians as we are, followers of Jesus, the tall order of Loving the Neighbor means loving anyone and everyone without exception.

October 8th

1st Reading: Jon 3:1-10:
The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and announce to it the message that I will tell you.” So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh, according to the Lord’s bidding. Now Nineveh was an enormously large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began his journey through the city, and had gone but a single day’s walk announcing, “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed,” when the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth. When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in the ashes.

Then he had this proclaimed throughout Nineveh, by decree of the king and his nobles: “Neither man nor beast, neither cattle nor sheep, shall taste anything; they shall not eat, nor shall they drink water. Man and beast shall be covered with sackcloth and call loudly to God; every man shall turn from his evil way and from the violence he has in hand. Who knows, God may relent and forgive, and withhold his blazing wrath, so that we shall not perish.” When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.

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.”

Martha and Mary are the customary images used to underline the active and the contemplative dimensions of life. Martha is the personification of action in the world and Mary is attention to the Lord. The evangelist Luke recounts this occasion of Jesus’ visit to the sisters to impart an important lesson we all need to learn: it is necessary to cultivate a healthy balance between a time to move about with our busy schedules and a time to sit at the foot of Jesus.

The Church does not discourage us from attending to the many concerns and worries of life. We need to work, and work overtime if we must, to earn for our needs and meet the demands of our families. But we too need to learn to stop and spend time with the Lord in prayer before we run out of time and realizing too late that we have failed to see “the better part”.

October 9th

St. Denis & Companions
St. John Leonardi

1st Reading: Jon 4:1-11:
Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry that God did not carry out the evil he threatened against Nineveh. He prayed, “I beseech you, Lord, is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? This is why I fled at first to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, rich in clemency, loath to punish. And now, Lord, please take my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.” But the Lord asked, “Have you reason to be angry?”

Jonah then left the city for a place to the east of it, where he built himself a hut and waited under it in the shade, to see what would happen to the city. And when the Lord God provided a gourd plant that grew up over Jonah’s head, giving shade that relieved him of any discomfort, Jonah was very happy over the plant. But the next morning at dawn God sent a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. And when the sun arose, God sent a burning east wind; and the sun beat upon Jonah’s head till he became faint. Then Jonah asked for death, saying, “I would be better off dead than alive.”

But God said to Jonah, “Have you reason to be angry over the plant?” “I have reason to be angry,” Jonah answered, “angry enough to die.” Then the Lord said, “You are concerned over the plant which cost you no labor and which you did not raise; it came up in one night and in one night it perished. And should I not be concerned over Nineveh, the great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot distinguish their right hand from their left, not to mention the many cattle?”

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.”

I sense a beautiful connection of the gospel text today to those of the past two days. Last Monday, the gospel recalls the incident where a teacher of the law inquired about inheriting eternal life (Lk. 10:25-37). Using a parable, Jesus pointed out that to inherit eternal life, knowing the commandments– loving God and neighbor–is not enough. One must put knowledge into practice. In other words, Jesus emphasized action. Yesterday, we heard again of the story of Martha and Mary (Lk. 10:38- 42).

Recall that Martha complained doing all the work by herself while Mary simply sat at the feet of Jesus to listen to him. But instead of Jesus taking Martha’s side, he praised Mary for choosing “the better part”. Hence, instead of action, Jesus, at this point, emphasized contemplation and prayer. Today, Jesus teaches us how to pray: pray from the heart. It is in those moments when we pray from the heart that our prayers become more honest and we become more authentic before our Father.

October 10th

1st Reading: Mal 3:13-20b:
You have defied me in word, says the Lord, yet you ask, “What have we spoken against you?” You have said, “It is vain to serve God, and what do we profit by keeping his command, and going about in penitential dress in awe of the Lord of hosts? Rather must we call the proud blessed; for indeed evildoers prosper, and even tempt God with impunity.” Then they who fear the Lord spoke with one another, and the Lord listened attentively; and a record book was written before him of those who fear the Lord and trust in his name. And they shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, my own special possession, on the day I take action.

And I will have compassion on them, as a man has compassion on his son who serves him. Then you will again see the distinction between the just and the wicked; between the one who serves God, and the one who does not serve him. For lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble, And the day that is coming will set them on fire, leaving them neither root nor branch, says the Lord of hosts. But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing 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.”

We know quite well St. Augustine of Hippo who lived a rather naughty life. A story is told that his mother, St. Monica, requested a bishop to talk to him. But the bishop declined saying it is a futile move. However, recognizing her sincere prayer and her tears for the conversion of her son, the bishop said, “Go, continue to live so; it cannot be that the son of those tears will perish.” And we know how this story ends: answered prayers. The gospel points to the certainty of God’s generosity in answering prayers.

In other words, God ALWAYS answers prayers. But there is one important thing we ought to bear in mind: we need to allow God to answer our prayers in the manner that he knows best. It can happen that we will not know what to receive when we ask, or what to find when we seek, or which door will be opened when we knock, but for certain, not one person who approaches God in earnest supplication will go emptyhanded.

October 11th

St. John XXII

1st Reading: Jl 1:13-15; 2:1-2:
Gird yourselves and weep, O priests! wail, O ministers of the altar! Come, spend the night in sackcloth, O ministers of my God! The house of your God is deprived of offering and libation. Proclaim a fast, call an assembly; Gather the elders, all who dwell in the land, Into the house of the Lord, your God, and cry to the Lord! Alas, the day! for near is the day of the Lord, and it comes as ruin from the Almighty.

Blow the trumpet in Zion, sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all who dwell in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming; Yes, it is near, a day of darkness and of gloom, a day of clouds and somberness! Like dawn spreading over the mountains, a people numerous and mighty! Their like has not been from of old, nor will it be after them, even to the years of distant generations.

Gospel: Lk 11:15-26:
When Jesus was casting out a devil some of the people said, “He drives out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the chief of the demons.” So 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 fellow members drive out demons? They will be your judges, then. “But suppose 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 the strong and armed man guards his house, his goods are safe.

But when a stronger one 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.”

I was a college student in UP Los Baños when the celebrated 1993 abductioncum-murder case of two students happened. In 2006, I returned there to pursue doctoral studies. One evening in 2007, our house of studies was in a bedlam when some agitated students came requesting for priests; one female student was allegedly possessed and kept babbling a female name. When we inquired of the name, I was taken aback. It was the name of the female student murdered in 1993!

As to how a 2007 student knew of that 1993 student, I do not know. When some fellow priests decided to go with the students, I opted to stay. I only learned later that it was not a real possession. Our gospel today contains an objective affirmation of the possibility of possessions. Evil forces can intrude and make a mess of our lives. They are tough and will never give up. The point is we need to be stronger and tougher. We need to possess firm faith, because the key to victory is to be on the side of Christ and not against him.

October 12th

1st Reading: Jl 4:12-21:
Thus says the Lord: Let the nations bestir themselves and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; For there will I sit in judgment upon all the neighboring nations. Apply the sickle, for the harvest is ripe; Come and tread, for the wine press is full; the vats overflow, for great is their malice. Crowd upon crowd in the valley of decision; for near is the day of the Lord in the valley of decision. Sun and moon are darkened, and the stars withhold their brightness. The Lord roars from Zion, and from Jerusalem raises his voice; the heavens and the earth quake, but the Lord is a refuge to his people, a stronghold to the children of Israel.

Then shall you know that I, the Lord, am your God, dwelling on Zion, my holy mountain; Jerusalem shall be holy, and strangers shall pass through her no more. And then, on that day, the mountains shall drip new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk; and the channels of Judah shall flow with water: a fountain shall issue from the house of the Lord, to water the Valley of Shittim. Egypt shall be a waste, and Edom a desert waste, Because of violence done to the people of Judah, because they shed innocent blood in their land. But Judah shall abide forever, and Jerusalem for all generations. I will avenge their blood, and not leave it unpunished. The Lord 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, “Truly blessed are those who hear the word of God, and keep it as well.”

Khalil Gibran says to parents, “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.” In other words there is a close link between parents and children. What we see in children (arrows) mirrors where they came from (bows) and under what manner of upbringing, whether disciplined or lax, they were formed. Hence, when children have grown to become successful and to become somebody in society, thanks to parents. This must have been in the mind of the woman who praised the one who “gave… birth and nursed” Jesus, meaning his mother, Mary.

Jesus must have impressed her a lot and admired his mother as blessed for having produced a good son. I don’t see anything wrong in this judgment. It is also a dictate of justice to recognize good parents and thank them for rearing and nurturing their children to become good people. Good personality reflects good upbringing. Good children reflect good parents. But Jesus picked this up and taught a more insightful lesson: one is more blessed when doing what is good and producing what is good comes from hearing and observing God’s Word.