Bible Diary for September 15th – 21st

September 15th

Our Lady of Sorrows

1st Reading: Ex 32:7-11, 13-14:
The Lord said to Moses, “Go down at once to your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt, for they have become depraved. They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them, making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it, sacrificing to it and crying out, ‘This is your God, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt!’ “I see how stiff-necked this people is,” continued the Lord to Moses. Let me alone, then, that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them. Then I will make of you a great nation.”

But Moses implored the Lord, his God, saying, “Why, O Lord, should your wrath blaze up against your own people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with such great power and with so strong a hand? Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and how you swore to them by your own self, saying, ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky; and all this land that I promised, I will give your descendants as their perpetual heritage.'” So the Lord relented in the punishment he had threatened to inflict on his people.

2nd Reading: 1 Tim 1:12-17:
I give thanks to Christ Jesus, our Lord, who is my strength, who has considered me trustworthy, and appointed me to his service, although I had been a blasphemer, a persecutor and a fanatical enemy. However, he took mercy on me, because I did not know what I was doing when I opposed the faith; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, together with faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

This saying is true and worthy of belief: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. Because of that, I was forgiven; Christ Jesus wanted to display his utmost patience, so that I might be an example for all who are to believe, and obtain eternal life. To the King of ages, the only God, who lives beyond every perishable and visible creation—to him, be honor and glory forever. Amen!

Gospel: Lk 15:1-32:
Meanwhile tax collectors and sinners were seeking the company of Jesus, all of them eager to hear what he had to say. (…) So Jesus told them this parable: “Who among you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, will not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and seek the lost one till he finds it? And finding it, will he not joyfully carry it home on his shoulders? Then he will call his friends and neighbors together, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner, than over ninety-nine decent people, who do not need to repent.

What woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one, will not light a lamp, and sweep the house in a thorough search, till she finds the lost coin? And finding it, she will call her friends and neighbors, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found the silver coin I lost!’ I tell you, in the same way, there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.” Jesus continued, “There was a man with two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Give me my share of the estate.’ So the father divided his property between them. Some days later, the younger son gathered all his belongings and started off for a distant land, where he squandered his wealth in loose living. Having spent everything, he was hard pressed when a severe famine broke out in that land.

So he hired himself out to a well-to-do citizen of that place, and was sent to work on a pig farm. So famished was he, that he longed to fill his stomach even with the food given to the pigs, but no one offered him anything. Finally coming to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will get up and go back to my father, and say to him, Father, I have sinned against God, and before you. I no longer deserve to be called your son. Treat me then as one of your hired servants.’ With that thought in mind, he set off for his father’s house. He was still a long way off, when his father caught sight of him.

His father was so deeply moved with compassion that he ran out to meet him, threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. The son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ But the father turned to his servants: ‘Quick!’ he said. ‘Bring out the finest robe and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! Take the fattened calf and kill it! We shall celebrate and have a feast, for this son of mine was dead, and has come back to life; he was lost, and is found!’ And the celebration began. (…)

Such is the love and mercy of God to forgive even our most grievous sins. It is totally beyond measure and beyond compare. He could only forgive us our sins because he cannot disown us who came from him. He will do everything to bring us back to his loving embrace, to the point of sharing the materiality of the created order and becoming human like us.

It greatly pleases God when we approach him with humility and seek his pardon. God’s forgiveness is life-giving because it reconnects us to him, the source of life. Forgiveness heals and restores what has been broken and lost. Merciful and loving God, give us the grace to learn to forgive and to ask for forgiveness.

September 16th

St. Cornelius and Cyprian

1st Reading: 1 Tim 2:1-8:
First of all, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.

For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as ransom for all. This was the testimony at the proper time. For this I was appointed preacher and Apostle (I am speaking the truth, I am not lying), teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument.

Gospel: Lk 7:1-10:
When Jesus had finished teaching the people, he went to Capernaum. A Roman military officer lived there, whose servant was very sick and near to death, a man very dear to him. So when he heard about Jesus, he sent some elders of the Jews to persuade him to come and save his servant’s life. The elders came to Jesus and begged him earnestly, saying, “He deserves this of you, for he loves our people and even built a synagogue for us.”

Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house, when the Roman officer sent friends to give this message, “Sirach, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to welcome you under my roof. You see, I didn’t approach you myself. Just give the order, and my servant will be healed. For I myself, a junior officer, give orders to my soldiers, and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes; and to the other, ‘Come!’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” On hearing these words, Jesus was filled with admiration. He turned and said to the people with him, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.” The people, sent by the captain, went back to his house; there they found that the servant was well.

The visit of Saint Pope John Paul II in the Philippines in 1995 culminated in the celebration of the Eucharist at Luneta Grand Stand in Manila. Until now I could not forget when my fellow seminarians and I went by bus to attend the mass. On the bus, I was seated beside a man who will also take part in the mass. Talking to him, he narrated how his father, who was suffering from a heart condition, got better. Using his own words, he said: “He got healed.” And he attributed the healing to the visit of the good pope.

I am now inclined to think that this is one of the incidents unknown to the Church, unknown to Rome, regarding Saint John Paul II. There are two important elements that are at work deep inside the Roman officer, namely: love and faith. Our love for others leads us to approach God in faith, asking him to bestow his mercy upon a beloved. And our faith, which recognizes the power of God and sees God as the only hope, as all, as everything, gives us the confidence to approach him. Faith gives us access to the power of God and allows, in turn, God’s love to work powerfully in our lives and the lives of those we love.

September 17th

St. Robert Bellarmine

1st Reading: 1 Tim 3:1-13:
Beloved, this saying is trustworthy:
whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task. Therefore, a bishop must be irreproachable, married only once, temperate, self-controlled, decent, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not aggressive, but gentle, not contentious, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children under control with perfect dignity; for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of the Church of God? He should not be a recent convert, so that he may not become conceited and thus incur the Devil’s punishment.

He must also have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, the Devil’s trap. Similarly, deacons must be dignified, not deceitful, not addicted to drink, not greedy for sordid gain, holding fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. Moreover, they should be tested first; then, if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. Women, similarly, should be dignified, not slanderers, but temperate and faithful in everything. Deacons may be married only once and must manage their children and their households well. Thus those who serve well as deacons gain good standing and much confidence in their faith in Christ Jesus.

Gospel: Lk 7:11-17:
A little later, Jesus went to a town called Naim. He was accompanied by his disciples and a great number of people. As he reached the gate of the town, a dead man was being carried out. He was the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; there followed a large crowd of townspeople. On seeing her, the Lord had pity on her and said, “Don’t cry.” Then he came up and touched the stretcher, and the men who carried it stopped.

Jesus then said, “Young man, I say to you, wake up!” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. A holy fear came over them all, and they praised God saying, “A great prophet has appeared among us. God has visited his people.” This news spread throughout Judea and the surrounding places.

God is so close to us more than we know that our pain, our suffering, our anguish are his. Such is the case because God is in every fabric of creation, in all forms of life, human beings and other-than-human beings alike. God’s creative love embraces and is within all creation; and, it has knowledge of everything that was created “very good.” This knowledge is not the same as human knowledge. God’s knowledge of his creation touches the core of its being.

Given the above assertions, God (in human limited terms) has profound knowledge and “feeling” of all creatures’ pain and suffering. That is why the inaudible cry of the unborn human life being terminated during pregnancy, God knows and feels; that is why he hears the cry of the poor; that is why he hears the voiceless cry of tiny creatures when a rainforest is being burnt; that is why he feels the blasting and destruction of a mountain and the poisoning of the river.

September 18th

1st Reading: 1 Tim 3:14-16:
I am writing you, although I hope to visit you soon. But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth. Undeniably great is the mystery of devotion, who was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed to the Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory.

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.”

Commenting on this gospel reading, Brendan Byrne SJ noted that the words “Wisdom” and “children” represent God’s saving plan and Jesus and John the Baptist, respectively. Both are considered the first children of the plan of God in the sense that John prepared the way for Jesus and preached a baptism of repentance; and, that Jesus enacted the divine plan of salvation in his ministry of teaching, healing, forgiving and reconciling. They are the first product of God’s saving act.

Picking up on this understanding of being “children of Wisdom”, we share in the status of John and Jesus its children, or as the children of the reign of justice, love and mercy, in so far as we do not remain silent in the midst of abuse and exploitation of our fellow humans and indiscriminate destruction of the natural world. We become its children when we lend a voice to the “voiceless” poor of our society and to the “voiceless” creatures of the natural world. Furthermore, we become its children when we actively promote justice, love and peace, whether individually or collectively, in our own family or in the wider community of life.

September 19th

St. Januarius

1st Reading: 1 Tim 4:12-16:
Let no one have contempt for your youth, but set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. Until I arrive, attend to the reading, exhortation, and teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was conferred on you through the prophetic word with the imposition of hands by the presbyterate. Be diligent in these matters, be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to everyone. Attend to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in both tasks, for by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.

Gospel: Lk 7:36-50:
One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to share his meal, so he went to the Pharisee’s house 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 Jesus was in the Pharisee’s house. She brought a precious jar of perfume and stood behind him at his feet, weeping. She wet his feet with tears, she dried them with her hair and kissed his feet and poured the perfume on them. (…) Then Jesus spoke to the Pharisee and 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. Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Sin ruins human lives; it destroys the natural world. Everything that was made “very good”, anything that relates to the good—it wants to be destroyed. Sin is the absence of the good; it cannot co-exist with goodness. Sin breaks the relationship with God, and the relation between humans and their fellow human beings and between humans and the natural world. Sin corrupts the human heart. It brings misery, loneliness and fear. With all these descriptions, we can easily identify its effects and manifestations, its many faces. Forgiveness is sin’s reversal; it undoes what sin has done.

Although in many cases the undoing takes longer time, still forgiveness restores back what has been lost and destroyed. Forgiveness brings about transformation inside the human person and promotes her/his well-being; it effects the flourishing of the natural world through humans. Forgiveness brings peace; it heals the wounded heart and restores the broken relationship. That is why the sinful woman, having been forgiven her many sins, has poured out her love in gratitude. She was reconnected back to her God and restored to a new “life”.

September 20th

Sts. Andrew Kim & Paul Chong and Companions

1st Reading: 1 Tim 6:2c-12:
Teach and urge these things. Whoever teaches something different and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the religious teaching is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid disposition for arguments and verbal disputes. From these come envy, rivalry, insults, evil suspicions, and mutual friction among people with corrupted minds, who are deprived of the truth, supposing religion to be a means of gain. Indeed, religion with contentment is a great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it. If we have food and clothing, we shall be content with that.

Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and into a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains. But you, man of God, avoid all this. Instead, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Compete well for the faith. Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses.

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.

The gospel passage today might seem to project a diminution of Jesus’ women followers, being possessed by evil spirits and being freed from demons. But the gospel writer does not intend it that way; he is simply saying that among those who were healed, responded generously, and followed Jesus were women (Brendan Byrne). The passage need not be construed as portraying women with secondary or inferior roles to men. Since the early Christian Church women have played an important role and have significantly impacted the proclamation of the good news. Some even assumed leadership roles. Their role was not limited to domestic services, such as cooking, washing, mending, etc. (Byrne).

Nowadays, we are witness to the ever-growing involvement and invaluable contribution of lay women in different areas of Church ministry. And in some areas, they are leading the way. The giftedness of women is a vital element in bringing forward the work of the Church in our modern world. The need for their active participation may not be felt in some quarters, but it is a fact that women’s giftedness has already substantially impacted the evangelizing work of the Church and proven itself worthy of the task. Women’s active participation calls for recognition and more encouragement.

September 21st

St. Matthew

1st Reading: Eph 4:1-7, 11-13:
Brothers and sisters:
I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace: one Body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. And he gave some as Apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the Body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ.

Gospel: Mt 9:9-13:
As Jesus moved on from there, he saw a man named Matthew, at his seat in the custom-house; and he said to him, “Follow me!” And Matthew got up and followed him. Now it happened, while Jesus was at table in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners joined Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why is it, that your master eats with sinners and tax collectors?” When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do. Go, and find out what this means: What I want is mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Why does Jesus want mercy? He wants mercy because mercy, together with forgiveness, is restorative. It heals the broken human heart; it restores back fragmented spirit to wholeness. Mercy connects us back to God, our fellow human creatures, and other nonhuman creatures Because Jesus has shown us his mercy, he wants us to give it to others; he wants us to pass it on to others. This is the only way things will work in favor of humanity and all creation. What God has done to us, what we ourselves have experienced as a result of the love and mercy of God, we also pass on to others.

And so we become instrument or agent of God’s divine and wonderful action in our lives. God’s action simply flows through us towards others, so that they, too, might experience God’s love and mercy. In 2017 Pope Francis added the “care of creation” as a modern work of mercy. The mercy of God is now extended to include the rest of God’s “very good” creation. This is grounded in the pure love of God that knows no limit; his love embraces all of life, all that he has created. That is why we are all enjoined to be merciful to all creatures, both humans and non-humans alike.