Bible Diary for September 17th – September 23rd

September 17th

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. Robert Bellarmine

1st Reading: Sir 27:30-28:7:
Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. The vengeful will suffer the Lord’s vengeance, for he remembers their sins in detail. Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven. Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the Lord? Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself, can he seek pardon for his own sins? If one who is but flesh cherishes wrath, who will forgive his sins? Remember your last days, set enmity aside; remember death and decay, and cease from sin! Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor; remember the Most High’s covenant, and overlook faults.

2nd Reading: Rom 14:7-9:
Brothers and sisters: None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For this is why Christ died and came to life, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

Gospel: Mt 18:21-35:
Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt.

At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’ Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan. When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison until he paid back the debt.

Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”

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 18th

1st Reading: 1 Tm 2:1-8:
Beloved: 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 all his words to the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die, and he was valuable to him. When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and save the life of his slave. They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying, “He deserves to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us.”

And Jesus went with them, but when he was only a short distance from the house, the centurion sent friends to tell him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come here, and he comes; and to my slave, Do this, and he does it.” When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him and, turning, said to the crowd following him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When the messengers returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

This captain is a remarkable man, indeed! Being a gentile as well as Roman official, it would be hard to win the praise of the Jewish elders. But the elders come and speak to Jesus in favor of the captain. They attest to his goodness, his love for Jewish people, and respect for the Jewish faith. Moreover, a captain must have matters of far more serious concern than the illness of one of his servants. But for this man, the wellbeing of his ward is a value, and hence, worth his time and effort.

But Jesus commends him for something far superior: for his deep faith. The captain recognizes the holiness and authority of Jesus. In deference to Christ‘s holiness, the captain refrains from coming in front of him. In recognition of Christ‘s authority, the captain knows that if Christ utters one word, the powers in the heavens, on earth, and under the earth will obey. This gentile‘s faith is so meritorious that his words have entered the Eucharistic liturgy. Every time we prepare to receive the Body and Blood of Christ in Communion, we make his prayer our own.

September 19th

St. Januarius

1st Reading: 1 Tm 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:
Jesus journeyed to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him. As he drew near to the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, he was moved with pity for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” He stepped forward and touched the coffin; at this the bearers halted, and he said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming, “A great prophet has arisen in our midst,” and “God has visited his people.” This report about him spread through the whole of Judea and in all the surrounding region.

Did the sight of the woman and her dead son evoke the future scene of Pietá in the mind of Jesus? Perhaps it did, and he felt the pain his widowed mother would undergo when she would lose her only son. Perhaps it was this event of the future that prompted Jesus to reach out to this woman, even without being asked, and raise the son, and give him back to his mother. Was Mother Mary present with his disciples when this event happened? I hope she was, for this would have touched her heart, and when the sword would pierce her heart again at the death of her son, she would have recalled it and found peace and hope. God, give me a heart like that of your Son that feels the pain of people and respond to it with love.

September 20th

Sts. Andrew Kim & Paul Chong and Companions

1st Reading: 1 Tm 3:14-16:
Beloved: 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:
Jesus said to the crowds: “To what shall I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance. We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.’ For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine, and you said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”

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 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 passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

A pastor once ran into a “lost sheep” of his parish. This man had stopped going to church a long time ago. The pastor gently invited him to return to church. The man said with no little self-righteousness: “Father, I don‘t go because the church is full of crooks and hypocrites.” And the pastor responded: “If so, please do come. We can always make room for one more.” The Church belongs to saints and sinners alike. Perhaps more sinners than saints, for the Church exists for their sake: “Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do.” We go to Church not to proclaim our righteousness to the world, but to humbly declare our sinfulness and need for God, and to receive His mercy and healing. By calling Matthew to belong to his band of apostles, Jesus makes it clear that from the greatest to the least in the Church, everyone is sinful and all stand in need of God‘s mercy.

September 22nd

1st Reading: 1 Tm 6:2c-12:
Beloved: 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 journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.

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 23rd

St. Pio of Pietrelcina

1st Reading: 1 Tm 6:13-16:
Beloved: I charge you before God, who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus, who gave testimony under Pontius Pilate for the noble confession, to keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ that the blessed and only ruler will make manifest at the proper time, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, and whom no human being has seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal power. Amen.

Gospel: Lk 8:4-15:
When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another journeying to Jesus, he spoke in a parable. “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled, and the birds of the sky ate it up. Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew, it withered for lack of moisture. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold.” After saying this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.” Then his disciples asked him what the meaning of this parable might be. He answered, “Knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you; but to the rest, they are made known through parables so that they may look but not see, and hear but not understand.

“This is the meaning of the parable. The seed is the word of God. Those on the path are the ones who have heard, but the Devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts that they may not believe and be saved. Those on rocky ground are the ones who, when they hear, receive the word with joy, but they have no root; they believe only for a time and fall away in time of temptation. As for the seed that fell among thorns, they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along, they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, and they fail to produce mature fruit. But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.”

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?