Bible Diary for September 13th – 19th

September 13th

24th Sunday in Ordinary time
St. John Chrysostom

1st Reading: Sir 27:30–28:7:
Grudge and wrath, these also are abominations in which sinful people excel. He who demands revenge will suffer the vengeance of the Lord who keeps a strict account of his sins. Forgive the mistakes of your neighbor and you may ask that your sins be forgiven. If a man bears resentment against another, how can he ask God for healing? If he has no compassion on others, how can he pray for forgiveness for his sins?

As long as he, mere flesh, is resentful, who will obtain his pardon? Remember your end and give up hatred; keep in mind your final corruption in the grave and keep the commandments. Remember the commandments and do not bear grudges against your neighbor. Remember the Covenant with the Most High and overlook the offense.

2nd Reading: Rom 14:7-9:
In fact, none of us lives for himself, nor dies for himself. If we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord. Either in life or in death, we belong to the Lord; It was for this purpose that Christ both died and came to life again, to be Lord, both of the living and of the dead.

Gospel: Mt 18:21-35:
Then Peter asked him, “Lord, how many times must I forgive the offenses of my brother or sister? Seven times?“

Jesus answered, “No, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. This story throws light on the kingdom of Heaven: A king decided to settle accounts with his servants. Among the first of them was one who owed him ten thousand pieces of gold. As the man could not repay the debt, the king commanded that he be sold as a slave with his wife, his children and all his goods, as repayment. The servant threw himself at the feet of the king and said, ‘Give me time, and I will pay you back everything.‘ The king took pity on him, and not only set him free, but even canceled his debt. When this servant left the king‘s presence, he met one of his fellow servants, who owed him a hundred pieces of silver. He grabbed him by the throat and almost choked him, shouting, ‘Pay me what you owe!‘ His fellow servant threw himself at his feet and begged him, ‘Give me time, and I will pay everything.‘ But the other did not agree, and sent him to prison until he had paid all his debt. Now the servants of the king saw what had happened. They were extremely upset, and so they went and reported everything to their lord. Then the lord summoned his servant and said, ‘Wicked servant, I forgave you all that you owed me when you begged me to do so. Weren‘t you bound to have pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?‘ The lord was now angry. He handed the wicked servant over to be punished, until he had paid the whole debt.“

Jesus added, “So will my heavenly Father do with you, unless you sincerely forgive your brothers and sisters.“

Why does the servant who was forgiven a huge debt get wrathful and unforgiving towards his servant who owed him very little? The truth is, being a recipient of mercy does not always evoke gratitude and humility, but sometimes results in shame and anger–especially when one is egoistic and feels lesser before the forgiving one. We can accept mercy only when we love and respect the one who shows mercy and feel a kinship with him. Then we are ready to share mercy with others and feel kinship with them as well. Pray for the grace of humility to accept God‘s mercy and share the same with others. With love and compassion in heart, forgive someone who has wronged you.

September 14th

Triumph of the Holy Cross

1st Reading: Num 21:4b–9:
From Mount Hor they set out by the Red Sea road to go around the land of Edom. The people were discouraged by the journey and began to complain against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is neither bread nor water here and we are disgusted with this tasteless manna.” Yahweh then sent fiery serpents against them. They bit the people and many of the Israelites died.

Then the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, speaking against Yahweh and against you. Plead with Yahweh to take the serpents away.” Moses pleaded for the people and Yahweh said to him, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a standard; whoever has been bitten and then looks at it shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a standard. Whenever a man was bitten, he looked towards the bronze serpent and he lived.

2nd Reading: Phil 2:6–11:
Though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking on the nature of a servant, made in human likeness, and, in his appearance, found, as a man, He humbled himself by being obedient, to death, death on the cross. That is why God exalted him and gave him the name which out-shines all names, so, that, at the name of Jesus all knees should bend in heaven, on earth and among the dead, and all tongues proclaim, that Christ Jesus is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Gospel: Jn 3:13–17:
No one has ever gone up to heaven except the one who came from heaven, the Son of Man. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. Yes, God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but may have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world; instead, through him the world is to be saved.

The feast of the Exaltation of the Cross marks the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 335 CE. On this feast, we are called upon to meditate on the salvific mystery of the Cross. The Israelites who were bitten by poisonous snakes looked up to the metal image of the fiery serpent on the standard and lived. Similarly, anyone bitten by the poisonous snakes of sin, who looks up to the living Christ on the Cross, shall not die, but live. It is God‘s will that everyone shall be saved. But we have the freedom of choice to look toward the Cross or away from it. The choice is ours; so are the consequences. Take a few minutes today to look at a cross and meditate on it. Keep gazing. What do you find there? Who is there? What happens to you as you keep gazing?

September 15th

Our Lady of Sorrows

1st Reading: 1 Cor 12:12–14, 27–31a:
As the body is one, having many members, and all the members, while being many, form one body, so it is with Christ. All of us, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, have been baptized in one Spirit, to form one body, and all of us have been given, to drink from the one Spirit. The body has not just one member, but many. Now, you are the body of Christ, and each of you, individually, is a member of it. So God has appointed us in the Church.

First apostles, second prophets, third teachers. Then come miracles, then the gift of healing, material help, administration in the Church and the gift of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Can all perform miracles, or cure the sick, or speak in tongues, or explain what was said in tongues? Be that as it may, set your hearts on the most precious gifts, and I will show you a much better way.

Gospel: Jn 19:25-27
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister Mary, who was the wife of Cleophas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw the Mother, and the disciple whom he loved, he said to the Mother, “Woman, this is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “This is your mother.” And from that moment the disciple took her to his own home.

Concerning the last three great events of sorrow in Mary’s life (Jesus’ death his being taken down from the cross, and finally his burial), thousands of parents in the course of time have known similar sufferings when they witnessed, say, the execution of their child—justly or unjustly, it does not matter, the suffering is always horrendous. In the same vein, think of parents identifying at the morgue the bloody and barely recognizable body of their son or  daughter, a victim of gang wars or of a car accident or of a serial killer or of racial hatred. Small wonder that so many parents can relate to this feast of our Lady of Sorrows. The experience of Mary resonates with theirs. Only grieving parents can understand grieving parents.

Let us notice, however, that this feast celebrates the sorrowful Mother of Jesus, not the depressed Mother of Jesus. At the foot of the cross, John tells us his gospel, Mary was “standing.” She was not prostrated, she was standing. In other words, although her sufferings were extreme, her faith gave her the courage to bear those sufferings without breaking down. In that, too, she is our model.

September 16th

Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian

1st Reading: 1 Cor 12:31 – 13:13:
Be that as it may, set your hearts on the most precious gifts, and I will show you a much better way. If I could speak all the human and angelic tongues, but had no love, I would only be sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, knowing secret things, with all kinds of knowledge, and had faith great enough to remove mountains, but had no love, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I had to the poor, and even give up my body to be burned, if I am without love, it would be of no value to me. Love is patient, kind, without envy. It is not boastful or arrogant. It is not ill-mannered, nor does it seek its own interest. Love overcomes anger and forgets offenses.

It does not take delight in wrong, but rejoices in truth. Love excuses everything, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love will never end. Prophecies may cease, tongues be silent and knowledge disappear. For knowledge grasps something of the truth and prophecy as well. And when what is perfect comes, everything imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I thought and reasoned like a child, but when I grew up, I gave up childish ways. Likewise, at present, we see dimly, as in a mirror, but, then, it shall be face to face. Now, we know, in part, but then I will know as I am known. Now, we have faith, hope and love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.

Gospel: Lk 7:31–35:
And Jesus said, “What comparison can I use for the people? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace, about whom their companions complain, ‘We piped you a tune and you wouldn’t dance; we sang funeral songs and you wouldn’t cry. Remember John: he didn’t eat bread or drink wine, and you said, ‘He has an evil spirit.’ Next, came the Son of Man, eating and drinking; and you say, ‘Look, a glutton for food and wine, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But the children of Wisdom always recognize her work.”

Jesus knows how to be witty when He replies to His accuser. He does this while having a good laugh out of it from time to time. So it is not all the time heavy and emotionally laden conversations between Him and His detractors. Jesus could be playful sometimes. This reminds us that once in a while. humor has the capacity to lighten a heavy discussion. When positions have hardened and reason is not listened to anymore, a nice touch of irony might elicit some laughter to drain away the tensions and bring the opposing camp back again to the discussion with a clearer mind. It does not always pay to be serious all the time. Jesus showed us that even He had use for something laughable sometimes.

September 17th

St. Robert Bellarmine

1st Reading: 1 Cor 15:1–11:
Let me remind you, brothers and sisters, of the Good News that I preached to you, and which you received, and on which, you stand firm. By that gospel, you are saved, provided that you hold to it, as I preached it. Otherwise, you will have believed in vain. In the first place, I have passed on to you what I, myself, received: that Christ died for our sins, as Scripture says; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas and then to the Twelve.

Afterward, he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters together; most of them are still alive, although some have already gone to rest. Then he appeared to James, and after that, to all the apostles. And last of all, he appeared to the most despicable of them, this is, to me. For I am the last of the apostles, and I do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God. Nevertheless, by the grace of God, I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been without fruit. Far from it, I have toiled more than all of them, although, not I, rather the grace of God, in me. Now, whether it was I or they, this, we preach, and this, you have believed.

Gospel: Lk 7:36–50:
One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to share his meal, so he went to the Pharisee’s home, and as usual reclined at the table to eat. And it happened that, a woman of this town, who was known as a sinner, heard that he was in the Pharisee’s house. She brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and stood behind him, at his feet, weeping. She wet his feet with tears; she dried them with her hair; she kissed his feet and poured the perfume on them. The Pharisee who had invited Jesus was watching, and thought, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what sort of person is touching him; isn’t this woman a sinner?” Then Jesus spoke to the Pharisee and said, “Simon, I have something to ask you.”

He answered, “Speak, master.” And Jesus said, “Two people were in debt to the same creditor. One owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other fifty. As they were unable to pay him back, he graciously canceled the debts of both. Now, which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, who was forgiven more.” And Jesus said, “You are right.” And turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? You gave me no water for my feet when I entered your house; but she has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You didn’t welcome me with a kiss; but she has not stopped kissing my feet since she came in. You provided no oil for my head; but she has poured perfume on my feet. This is why, I tell you, her sins, her many sins, are forgiven, because of her great love. But the one who is forgiven little, has little love.”

Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” The others reclining with him at the table began to wonder, “Now this man claims to forgive sins!” But Jesus again spoke to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace!”

In today’s Gospel we heard two contrasting receptions of the Lord: that of Simon the Pharisee and that of the sinful woman. It is true that Simon invited the Lord for supper but He did not extend the usual niceties and courtesies that accompany such invitation. He only provided food but nothing beyond that. After all, he belonged to a powerful group of religious authorities, the Pharisees. Jesus should be grateful that he extended the honor of invitation to Him.

On the other hand is a sinful woman who had no pretense to earthly greatness. She was only conscious of her littleness before the Lord. Thus she gave the best that she had, the costly bottle of perfume and her tears to welcome and honor the Lord. Between the two, where do we find ourselves? Are we made haughty by our achievements in this world that we are at the point of disrespect when we deal with Jesus? Or are we like the sinful woman who begs the Lord for mercy and offers Him the best that we have, meager as it is, in front of Him.

September 18th

1st Reading: 1 Cor 15:12–20:
Well, then, if Christ is preached as risen from the dead, how can some of you say, that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is empty, and our belief comes to nothing. And we become false witnesses of God, attesting that he raised Christ, whereas he could not raise him, if indeed, the dead are not raised.

If the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith gives you nothing, and you are still in sin. Also, those who fall asleep, in Christ, are lost. If it is only for this life, that we hope in Christ, we are the most unfortunate of all people. But no, Christ has been raised from the dead, and he comes before all those who have fallen asleep.

Gospel: Lk 8:1–3:
Jesus walked through towns and countryside, preaching and giving the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve followed him, and also some women, who had been healed of evil spirits and diseases: Mary called Magdalene, who had been freed of seven demons; Joanna, wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward; Suzanna; and others, who provided for them out of their own funds.

Jesus as a holy man is unique in many ways among the other holy men of His time. For one, He does not shun the company and help of women. They are a welcome group in His band. Our Gospel today tells us that such a group of women followed the Lord. They also contributed in the movement of Jesus by way of monetary support. These were active women followers.

Their secondary status against the males in the Jewish society of that time did not hinder them from their active roles. And this happened because they followed an enlightened and evolved Master. Jesus valued the women in His group and respected their contribution. We too should have a positive appreciation of women by virtue of our following the Lord.

September 19th

St. Januarius

1st Reading: 1 Cor 15:35–37, 42–49:
Some of you will ask: How will the dead be raised? With what kind of body will they come? You fools! What you sow cannot sprout unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body of the future plant, but a bare grain of wheat or any other seed, It is the same with the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in decomposition; it will be raised never more to die. It is sown in humiliation, and it will be raised for glory. It is buried in weakness, but the resurrection shall be with power.

When buried, it is a natural body, but it will be raised as a spiritual body. For there shall be a spiritual body, as there is, at present, a living body. Scripture says that Adam, the first man, became a living being; but the last Adam has become a life-giving spirit. The spirit does not appear first, but the natural life, and afterward comes the spirit. The first man comes from the earth and is earthly, while the second one comes from heaven. As it was with the earthly one, so is it with the earthly people. As it is with Christ, so with the heavenly. This is why, after bearing the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one.

Gospel: Lk 8:4–15:
As a great crowd gathered, and people came to him from every town, Jesus began teaching them with a story: “The sower went out to sow the seed. And as he sowed, some of the seed fell along the way, was trodden on, and the birds of the sky ate it up. Some seed fell on rocky ground; and no sooner had it come up than it withered, because it had no water. Some seed fell among thorns; the thorns grew up with the seed and choked it. But some seed fell on good soil and grew, producing fruit, a hundred times as much!” And Jesus cried out, “Listen then, if you have ears to hear!” The disciples asked him, “What does this story mean?”

And Jesus answered, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God. But to others it is given in the form of stories, or parables, so that, seeing, they may not perceive; and hearing, they may not understand. Now, this is the point of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the wayside are people who hear it; but immediately, the devil comes and takes the word from their minds, for he doesn’t want them to believe and be saved.

Those on the rocky ground are people who receive the word with joy; but they have no root; they believe for a while, and give way in time of trial. Among the thorns are people who hear the word, but, as they go their way, they are choked by worries, riches, and the pleasures of life; they bring no fruit to maturity. The good soil, instead, are people who receive the word, and keep it, in a gentle and generous mind, and, persevering patiently, they bear fruit.

Jesus never turned down requests that explained further His teachings. As a matter of fact He delighted in being questioned especially if those who did so genuinely sought enlightenment. And so He explained His parable of the seeds that fell on different grounds which seemed to be ordinary and mundane to the casual observer. Yet the deeper significance of the parable has a realism that could help His hearers respond accordingly to His teachings. Jesus is a very good Teacher. All we have to do is ask Him and allow Him to teach us the way. But is He the Teacher that we will follow or do we allow the “false teachers” of this world to dictate to us what to do?