Bible Diary for September 22nd – 28th
1st Reading: Am 8:4-7:
Hear this, you, who trample on the needy, to do away with the weak of the land. You who say, “When will the new moon or the Sabbath feast be over that we may open the store and sell our grain? Let us lower the measure and raise the price; let us cheat and tamper with the scales, and even sell the refuse with the whole grain. We will buy up the poor for money and the needy for a pair of sandals.” Yahweh, the pride of Jacob, has sworn by himself, “I shall never forget their deeds.”
2nd Reading: 1 Tim 2:1-8:
First of all, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for everyone, for rulers of states, and all in authority, that we may enjoy a quiet and peaceful life, in godliness and respect. This is good and pleases God. For he wants all to be saved, and come to the knowledge of truth. As there is one God, there is one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave his life for the redemption of all.
This is the testimony, given in its proper time, and of this, God has made me apostle and herald. I am not lying, I am telling the truth: He made me teacher of the nations regarding faith and truth. I want the men, in every place, to lift pure hands, in prayer, to heaven, without anger and dissension.
Gospel: Lk 16:1-13:
At another time Jesus told his disciples, “There was a rich man, whose steward was reported to him because of fraudulent service. He summoned the steward and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? I want you to render an account of your service, for it is about to be terminated.’ The steward thought to himself, ‘What am I to do now? My master will surely dismiss me. I am not strong enough to do hard work, and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I will do: I must make sure that when I am dismissed, there will be people who will welcome me into their homes.’ So he called his master’s debtors, one by one. He asked the first debtor, ‘How much do you owe my master?’
The reply was, ‘A hundred jars of oil.’ The steward said, ‘Here is your bill. Sit down quickly and write fifty.’ To the second debtor he put the same question, ‘How much do you owe?’ The answer was, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ Then the steward said, ‘Take your bill and write eighty.’ The master commended the dishonest steward for his astuteness: for the people of this world are more astute, in dealing with their own kind, than are the people of light. And so I tell you: use filthy money to make friends for yourselves, so that, when it fails, these people may welcome you into the eternal homes.
Whoever can be trusted in little things can also be trusted in great ones; whoever is dishonest in slight matters will also be dishonest in greater ones. So if you have been dishonest in handling filthy money, who would entrust you with true wealth? And if you have been dishonest with things that are not really yours, who will give you that wealth which is truly your own? No servant can serve two masters. Either he does not like the one and is fond of the other, or he regards one highly and the other with contempt. You cannot give yourself both to God and to Money.”
In response to the decision of the rich man to terminate him, the steward acted astutely: he cancelled out the extra markup he had added (for himself) to the rich man’s profit in order to win the favor of each debtor. What is remarkable about his action is that he gave away, after coming to his senses (with emphasis), the money intended for him. He realized the impending consequences of his dismissal: he will have to work hard in spite of physical inability; and, he will have to beg. He could not imagine himself doing these.
The realization and actions of the astute steward are worth relating to our day-to-day living. That which corrupts the human heart, we may give up; and, that which could be very helpful to others, we may also give away. It wise when we act based on authentic values and not on mere satisfaction. Lord, grant us the wisdom to determine what is truly good and valuable. And give us the courage to give up those things that do not promote your reign of love, justice and mercy.
St. Pio of Pietrelcina
1st Reading: Ezr 1:1-6:
In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord inspired King Cyrus of Persia to issue this proclamation throughout his kingdom, both by word of mouth and in writing: “Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: ‘All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord, the God of heaven, has given to me, and he has also charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Therefore, whoever among you belongs to any part of his people, let him go up, and may his God be with him! Let everyone who has survived, in whatever place he may have dwelt, be assisted by the people of that place with silver, gold, goods, and cattle, together with free-will offerings for the house of God in Jerusalem.'”
Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and Levites–everyone, that is, whom God had inspired to do so–prepared to go up to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. All their neighbors gave them help in every way, with silver, gold, goods, and cattle, and with many precious gifts besides all their free-will offerings.
No one, after lighting a lamp, covers it with a bowl or puts it under the bed; rather, he puts it on a lamp stand, so that people coming in may see the light. In the same way, there is nothing hidden that shall not be uncovered; nothing kept secret, that shall not be known clearly. Now, pay attention and listen well, for whoever produces, will be given more; but from those who do not produce, even what they seem to have will be taken away from them.”
God’s good news of love that has been welcomed in the human heart through conversion and faith needs to be nurtured by perseverance in prayer and good works so that it continues to grow and bear fruit for one’s self and others. When a lamp, or a candle, is covered, it will cease to give out light and no sooner it will be extinguished because it lacks air, particularly oxygen, needed to keep it burning. Once the good news takes its root, it would require “patient endurance” so that we can proceed with the demands of daily human affairs strong, withstanding and warding off the threats coming from various concerns, possessions and pleasures in life (Brendan Byrne).
Prayer, good works, endurance and patience are the elements of the air, so to speak, that keep the light of love in us shining. Without them, our conversion to a new life of faith in Christ will not last. In seeing this light, what others actually recognize is God’s love and mercy at work in our lives. The light of our transformation and its accompanying fruits of good work touch people’s lives because they reflect divine goodness. Having this light, then, shining in our life is to be a witness to the power and love of God.
1st Reading: Ezr 6:7-8, 12b, 14-20:
King Darius issued an order to the officials of West-of-Euphrates: “Let the governor and the elders of the Jews continue the work on that house of God; they are to rebuild it on its former site. I also issue this decree concerning your dealing with these elders of the Jews in the rebuilding of that house of God: From the royal revenue, the taxes of West-of-Euphrates, let these men be repaid for their expenses, in full and without delay. I, Darius, have issued this decree; let it be carefully executed.”
The elders of the Jews continued to make progress in the building, supported by the message of the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, son of Iddo. They finished the building according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus and Darius and of Artaxerxes, king of Persia. They completed this house on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius. The children of Israel–priests, Levites, and the other returned exiles– celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy. For the dedication of this house of God, they offered one hundred bulls, two hundred rams, and four hundred lambs, together with twelve he-goats as a sin-offering for all Israel, in keeping with the number of the tribes of Israel.
Finally, they set up the priests in their classes and the Levites in their divisions for the service of God in Jerusalem, as is prescribed in the book of Moses. The exiles kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month. The Levites, every one of whom had purified himself for the occasion, sacrificed the Passover for the rest of the exiles, for their brethren the priests, and for themselves.
Gospel: Lk 8:19-21:
Then his mother and his relatives came to him; but they could not get to him because of the crowd. Someone told him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and wish to meet you.” Then Jesus answered, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”
Our biological make-up determines the closeness of our relationship with our mother, father, sister(s) and brother(s). Other than a relationship with a friend, these are the closest possible relationships that one can have to another person. But in today’s short gospel reading, Jesus established a determinant that goes beyond biological relationship, that is, the hearing and the keeping of the word of God. This is the one thing that connects and brings us into close relationship with Christ.
Hearing and keeping God’s word means taking Jesus in our life, making him an integral part of us, without whom life fails. When this happens, Christ takes possession of us and assumes a central place. That is why we can now say: “I am sister/ brother to Christ, a sister and a brother to others because of Christ’s love for them. It needs to be noted that this relationship with Christ constitutes hearing and doing. Both are needed in building a relationship with him. Hearing the good news is not enough. It requires the addition of action.
1st Reading: Ezr 9:5-9:
At the time of the evening sacrifice, I, Ezra, rose in my wretchedness, and with cloak and mantle torn I fell on my knees, stretching out my hands to the Lord, my God. I said: “My God, I am too ashamed and confounded to raise my face to you, O my God, for our wicked deeds are heaped up above our heads and our guilt reaches up to heaven. From the time of our fathers even to this day great has been our guilt, and for our wicked deeds we have been delivered up, we and our kings and our priests, to the will of the kings of foreign lands, to the sword, to captivity, to pillage, and to disgrace, as is the case today.
“And now, but a short time ago, mercy came to us from the Lord, our God, who left us a remnant and gave us a stake in his holy place; thus our God has brightened our eyes and given us relief in our servitude. For slaves we are, but in our servitude our God has not abandoned us; rather, he has turned the good will of the kings of Persia toward us. Thus he has given us new life to raise again the house of our God and restore its ruins, and has granted us a fence in Judah and Jerusalem.”
Gospel: Lk 9:1-6:
Then Jesus called his twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to drive out all evil spirits and to heal diseases. And he sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He instructed them, “Don’t take anything for the journey, neither staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and don’t even take a spare tunic. Whatever house you enter, remain there until you leave that place. And wherever they don’t welcome you, leave the town and shake the dust from your feet: it will be as a testimony against them.” So they set out, and went through the villages, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.
A suitcase company has for its trademark “Travel Lite”, found on its suitcases. The company simply wants to convey that using its suitcases we can travel (very) lightly, while having plenty of stuff inside and without having to pull hard. Indeed, the suitcases—with their four wheels and very light material, but durable—are reliable and can help travelling overseas more comfortable. Our journey through life can also be light with all its ups and downs, with all its burden and difficulties. We can still Travel Lite in our daily life, enjoying and living life to the full.
To Travel Lite could mean being critically aware of the things that are necessary and essential. It means discarding the things that do not contribute to our general well-being and good. It means being able to go through life in a relaxed, calm manner. It means being able to forgive others—and also ourselves. To Travel Lite means to let go of resentments, chronic frustrations, mistakes and failures, rising above them. It means travelling with Jesus who said: “My yoke is easy and my burden light.” With Jesus, we can Travel Lite.
Sts. Cosmas and Damian
1st Reading: Hg 1:1-8:
On the first day of the sixth month in the second year of King Darius, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai to the governor of Judah, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, and to the high priest Joshua, son of Jehozadak:
Thus says the Lord of hosts: This people says: “The time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.” (Then this word of the Lord came through Haggai, the prophet:) Is it time for you to dwell in your own paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?
Now thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways! You have sown much, but have brought in little; you have eaten, but have not been satisfied; you have drunk, but have not been exhilarated; have clothed yourselves, but not been warmed; and whoever earned wages earned them for a bag with holes in it.
Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways! Go up into the hill country; bring timber, and build the house that I may take pleasure in it and receive my glory, says the Lord.
Gospel: Lk 9:7-9:
King Herod heard of all this, and did not know what to think, for people said, “This is John, raised from the dead.” Others believed that Elijah, or one of the ancient prophets, had come back to life. As for Herod, he said, “I had John beheaded. Who is this man, about whom I hear such wonders?” And he was anxious to see him.
The answer to the question “Who is this man?” will tell us why, in the absence of Jesus, one is said to have harvested little even though she/he had sown much; and, why she/he was not satisfied although he had “eaten” and “drunk”. Having observed this in others and in ourselves, we are able to conclude that something is missing. An ingredient in the formula is left out, and that is Jesus. Without Jesus, life is incomplete. There is always a sense of something missing, a sense of emptiness.
We think that we have worked out many things and have given our best, but still, there is a feeling of “These are not the things I’m supposed to be doing.” When Christ fills our life, we are led to those things that serve our purpose in life and to those things that provide a deep sense of fulfillment and joy. When he takes over our lives, our burdens, our failures are light to bear; and, we find direction. We know Jesus to be all of these that is why we are at peace and feel secure.
St. Vincent de Paul
1st Reading: Hg 2:1-9:
In the second year of King Darius, on the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: Tell this to the governor of Judah, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, and to the high priest Joshua, son of Jehozadak, and to the remnant of the people:
Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? And how do you see it now? Does it not seem like nothing in your eyes? But now take courage, Zerubbabel, says the Lord, and take courage, Joshua, high priest, son of Jehozadak, and take courage, all you people of the land, says the Lord, and work! For I am with you, says the Lord of hosts. This is the pact that I made with you when you came out of Egypt, and my spirit continues in your midst; do not fear!
For thus says the Lord of hosts: One moment yet, a little while, and I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all the nations, and the treasures of all the nations will come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. Mine is the silver and mine the gold, says the Lord of hosts. Greater will be the future glory of this house than the former, says the Lord of hosts; and in this place I will give you peace, says the Lord of hosts!
Gospel: Lk 9:18-22:
One day, when Jesus was praying alone, not far from his disciples, he asked them, “What do people say about me?” And they answered, “Some say, that you are John the Baptist; others say, that you are Elijah; and still others, that you are one of the prophets of old, risen from the dead.” Again Jesus asked them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.” Then Jesus spoke to them, giving them strict orders not to tell this to anyone. And he added, “The Son of Man must suffer many things. He will be rejected by the elders and chief priests and teachers of the law, and be put to death. Then after three days he will be raised to life.”
Fortunate are the disciples to have interacted personally with Jesus, face to face, witnessed his healing activities, and heard his preaching. (How could the Pharisees and other religious leaders miss the God person before them!) As for us, “Who is Jesus?” The descriptions of Jesus handed down by our parents, by our religious education teachers, by the Church, etc. become real only when we experienced them ourselves. Jesus is who/what he is said to be only when we encounter him personally in our lives.
We may recall that in the Prologue of the gospel of John, it is said: “All things came into being through him” (1:3). If we are created through him, this must, indeed, say something about us and Jesus. It would say that he is in every fiber of our being and that he would be so close to us than we know. Would not this closeness reveal who he is? This closeness allows for his revelation so that we can truly say who he is to us.
St. Lorenzo Ruiz of Manila and Companions
1st Reading: Zec 2:5-9, 14-15a:
I, Zechariah, raised my eyes and looked: there was a man with a measuring line in his hand. I asked, “Where are you going?” He answered, “To measure Jerusalem, to see how great is its width and how great its length.” Then the angel who spoke with me advanced, and another angel came out to meet him and said to him, “Run, tell this to that young man: People will live in Jerusalem as though in open country, because of the multitude of men and beasts in her midst. But I will be for her an encircling wall of fire, says the Lord, and I will be the glory in her midst.” Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the Lord. Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord on that day, and they shall be his people and he will dwell among you.
Gospel: Lk 9:43b-45:
And all who saw it were astonished at God’s wonderful work. But while all were amazed at everything Jesus did, he said to his disciples, “Listen, and remember what I tell you now: The Son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of men.” But the disciples didn’t understand this saying; something prevented them from grasping what he meant, and they were afraid to ask him about it.
Humans are not without intellectual and effective faculties so that they would not know that this behavior or those practices pose danger to the life, good and well being of each member of the community of life on Earth. We certainly know when human activities are destructive of our fellow humans and of other creatures. We know when our actions violate the rights and dignity of others and compromise the flourishing of life on Earth. Human common sense and intelligence is so wired to the truth and the good that we receive signal(s) from within when our thoughts and actions become detrimental to life.
Are not people betrayed when the mountains are blasted and mined, when trees are cut down indiscriminately, and when the waters, the land and the air are being polluted. Look at what happened in countries, in areas struck by landslides, tsunamis, typhoons, etc.! Look at what happens when we continuously use coal and fossil fuel. Are we not supposed to be “keepers” of our “sisters” and “brothers”, and protectors of God’s creation? Betray people, and some will voice out their complaints. But others resign in hopelessness and silence. Betray nature, and it will hit back, unforgiving.