Bible Diary for September 24th – September 30th
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Is 55:6-9:
Seek the Lord while he may be found, call him while he is near. Let the scoundrel forsake his way, and the wicked his thoughts; let him turn to the Lord for mercy; to our God, who is generous in forgiving. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.
2nd Reading: Phil 1:20c-24, 27a:
Brothers and sisters: Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me life is Christ, and death is gain. If I go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. And I do not know which I shall choose. I am caught between the two. I long to depart this life and be with Christ, for that is far better. Yet that I remain in the flesh is more necessary for your benefit. Only, conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ.
Gospel: Mt 20:1-16a:
Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. Going out about nine o’clock, the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.’ So they went off. And he went out again around noon, and around three o’clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o’clock, the landowner found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’
When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’ When those who had started about five o’clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’ He said to one of them in reply, ‘My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?’ Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
The values of the Kingdom are way beyond our understanding and ken. Whereas we always put monetary or its equivalent value to the things that we do, heaven is happy to multiply the greatest good and joy without considering the cost and amount. This is the reason why the landowner, who is the image of God, paid all workers, regardless of the time spent in working, the same amount. He was happy to share his resources equally to all without regard to their outputs. This does not sit well with those who worked ahead.
They felt cheated because they expended more energy, spent more time and experienced more discomfort than the others. They demand a just compensation to their efforts. But come to think of it, when we are in God’s house everything will be shared equally. No one will have more than the others because there will be no basis for comparison. This will simply fade away. What will remain is the abundant love of God that can never be exhausted. There will always be something more left behind for others once we get our share. Have I begrudged another’s generosity especially if I am not the recipient? Rather than griping about it, I should commend and reinforce it so that generosity will grow in strength especially in the community that I live.
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.
Gospel: Lk 8:16-18:
Jesus said to the crowd: “No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care, then, how you hear. To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away.”
Jesus‘s listeners would have laughed at the imagery Jesus used: It is utterly dark in the house, but someone lights a lamp only to cover it with a bowl or place it under the bed! Of course, no one in the right frame of mind would do it. However, Jesus warns us that in our spiritual life, we do such silly things—we do not listen carefully to the Word of God which is a “lamp to our feet“ (Psalm 119:105), but cover it up, effectively blocking its life-giving energy from affecting us. Just as Mary listened to God‘s word and conceived it in her womb and brought forth, we must listen to the word and expose our whole being to it so that it produces fruit abundantly. St. James teaches us about how to listen correctly: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.“ (James 1:22-24)
Sts. Cosmas and Damian
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:
The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd. He was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you.” He said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”
Jesus’ fame had already spread and many were following His every word. Not even His family could get close to Him now. They had to wait and send an emissary to tell Him that they were around. And something wonderful happened that day. That simple family who waited to see their Jesus was complemented by Him in a way that also disclosed their greatness. They had already heard the word of God and had done it in their lives. This is the reason why they stayed behind when Jesus made the rounds of Israel. They did not have to follow Him in His itinerant preaching. They were already doing what Jesus continues to exhort His hearers to do.
St. Vincent de Paul
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:
Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.” Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere.
Jesus’ style of leadership is handing over power to those who follow Him and giving them an opportunity to produce something for themselves. He provides an avenue where His disciples can do something concrete and something that they can be proud of. He does not feel diminished simply because His followers exercise control and leadership over that which they do. Strange but very few have the capacity to let go of the remote control and allow others to select the show. The majority have this growing need for control just to show who is the leader or the boss. Jesus empowers. He shows genuine delight at the achievements of those He sent. If we could be a little bit more like Him, many people would be happy to do something for the benefit of others.
St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions
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:
Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying, “John has been raised from the dead”; others were saying, “Elijah has appeared”; still others, “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.” But Herod said, “John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see him.
There are things we have done that do not simply die. They continue to haunt us. The more unjust it has been, the scarier is its ghost that visits us. This is what King Herod felt. He knew that he had John beheaded because of an impulsive promise. Now, another man, who does what John did before, comes to town. He makes Herod remember the man he put to death. That is why Herod has to see him. He will always feel uneasy unless he puts the ghost of John to rest. But even if he sees Jesus, he will never find peace. Like Herod, we will never find peace from our ghosts if we do not repent.
Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels
1st Reading: Dn 7:9-10, 13-14:
As I watched: Thrones were set up and the Ancient One took his throne. His clothing was bright as snow, and the hair on his head as white as wool; His throne was flames of fire, with wheels of burning fire. A surging stream of fire flowed out from where he sat; Thousands upon thousands were ministering to him, and myriads upon myriads attended him. The court was convened, and the books were opened. As the visions during the night continued, I saw One like a son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven; When he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, He received dominion, glory, and kingship; nations and peoples of every language serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed.
Gospel: Jn 1:47-51:
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Nathanael’s true self and his hidden thoughts were laid bare by Jesus. Because of these, he promptly proclaimed the divinity of the Lord. Isn’t it that in our lives, we also feel the Lord unmasking us for who we are; He lays bare our soul. There is nothing that we can hide from Him. Sometimes, like Nathanael, we acknowledge His majesty. Some other times, because of shame or because of false pride, we turn away and leave Him. Jesus has no intention of embarrassing us when He looks into our inmost self. He loves us for who we are. Our pretensions will not add or subtract from that love. May we aspire to be like Nathanael where nothing is false within him. That is why it was easy for him to proclaim the Lordship of Jesus.
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:
While they were all amazed at his every deed, Jesus said to his disciples, “Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.” But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them so that they should not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
Jesus had hinted at His fate to His disciples more often. But they didn’t want to face the fact. They were afraid of its implications. They would rather enjoy the moment of triumph that Jesus had with His following added every day. Yet Jesus would not allow them to sidestep the issue. They had to follow Him with eyes wide open not deluding themselves of a false glorious future. This also goes for each and every one of us. Following Jesus does not guarantee an easy and smooth life. On the contrary we will find it hard to be disciples of the Lord in this present age. And He wants to tell us at once so that we will know what we are signing up for when we make Him the Lord and Master of our life. Knowing that, do we have the courage to go on?