Bible Diary for September 29th – October 5th

September 29th

Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels

1st Reading: Am 6:1a, 4-7:
Woe to those proud people, who live overconfident, on the hill of Samaria! Woe to you, men of renown, from the first among the nations, to whom the people of Israel come! You lie on beds inlaid with ivory and sprawl on your couches; you eat lamb from the flock and veal from calves fattened in the stall. You strum on your harps, and like David, try out new musical instruments. You drink wine by the bowlful and anoint yourselves with the finest oils; but you do not grieve over the ruins of Joseph. Therefore, you will be the first to go into exile; and the feast of sprawlers will be over.

2nd Reading: 1 Tim 6:11-16:
But you, man of God, shun all this. Strive to be holy and godly. Live in faith and love, with endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith and win everlasting life, to which you were called, when you made the good profession of faith, in the presence of so many witnesses. Now, in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Jesus Christ, who expressed before Pontius Pilate the authentic profession of faith: preserve the revealed message to all.

Keep yourself pure and blameless, until the glorious coming of Christ Jesus, our Lord, who God will bring about at the proper time; he, the magnificent sovereign, King of kings and Lord of lords. To him, alone, immortal, who lives in unapproachable light, and whom no one has ever seen or can see, to him, be honor and power, for ever and ever. Amen!

Gospel: Lk 16:19-31:
Once there was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and feasted every day. At his gate lay Lazarus, a poor man covered with sores, who longed to eat just the scraps falling from the rich man’s table. Even dogs used to come and lick his sores. It happened that the poor man died, and angels carried him to take his place with Abraham. The rich man also died, and was buried. From the netherworld where he was in torment, the rich man looked up and saw Abraham afar off, and with him Lazarus at rest. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me, and send Lazarus, with the tip of his finger dipped in water, to cool my tongue, for I suffer so much in this fire!’ Abraham replied, ‘My son, remember that in your lifetime you were well-off, while the lot of Lazarus was misfortune.

Now he is in comfort, and you are in agony. But that is not all. Between your place and ours a great chasm has been fixed, so that no one can cross over from here to you, or from your side to us.’ The rich man implored once more, ‘Then I beg you, Father Abraham, send Lazarus to my father’s house, where my five brothers live. Let him warn them, so that they may not end up in this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’ But the rich man said, ‘No, Father Abraham; but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced, even if someone rises from the dead.’”

The parable of the rich man and Lazarus showcases the outcome of the failure to undergo conversion to faith in Jesus and the Good News. Without conversion, the rich man continues to live in his comfortable life while ignoring and taking no action to relieve Lazarus from his situation. The consequence: he found himself in eternal fire. Conversion would include loving and caring for those that God loves. It involves taking concrete actions to care for and protect others, especially the poor. God, who takes notice of the suffering and pain of the poor, the needy, and the neglected, acts to liberate them from their situation.

That is why conversion to the Good News would also include participating in or becoming an instrument of God’s liberating action. To a converted person, to live a life of comfort and affluence and to remain silent while a great number of peoples suffers injustices and abuse, and another numerous number of people languishes in misery and poverty, is unacceptable. Loving God, may we, in our simple or great ways, contribute in alleviating the suffering of your “little ones.”

September 30th

St. Jerome

1st Reading: Zec 8:1-8:
This word of the Lord of hosts came:
Thus says the Lord of hosts:
I am intensely jealous for Zion, stirred to jealous wrath for her. Thus says the Lord: I will return to Zion, and I will dwell within Jerusalem; Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the holy mountain.

Thus says the Lord of hosts:  Old men and old women, each with staff in hand because of old age, shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem. The city shall be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets. Thus says the Lord of hosts: Even if this should seem impossible in the eyes of the remnant of this people, shall it in those days be impossible in my eyes also, says the Lord of hosts? Thus says the Lord of hosts: Lo, I will rescue my people from the land of the rising sun, and from the land of the setting sun. I will bring them back to dwell within Jerusalem. They shall be my people, and I will be their God, with faithfulness and justice.

Gospel: Lk 9:46-50:
One day, the disciples were arguing about which of them was the most important. But Jesus knew their thoughts, so he took a little child and stood him by his side. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name, welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me, welcomes the one who sent me. And listen: the one who is found to be the least among you all, is the one who is the greatest.” Then John spoke up, “Master, we saw someone who drives out demons by calling upon your name, and we tried to forbid him, because he doesn’t follow you with us.” But Jesus said, “Don’t forbid him. He who is not against you is for you.”

Jesus sets for us the criterion for greatness, that is the welcoming of God into our lives, through the welcoming of Jesus, and ultimately the welcoming of the little ones of our day, namely: those who are put to the margin and those who are neglected. And they may include those ordinary people who walk into our lives. The welcoming of God may be construed as the acceptance and embracing of the good news of God’s saving love of all creation that is effected in Jesus and translated into works of justice, peace and integrity of creation.

This welcoming entails acts of service to all that God loves. We are the greatest when we promote the interest of justice, peace, and mercy. Given the above considerations, our simple, random acts of kindness and service to others, and our actions of caring for God’s creation and protecting it may be the measure of greatness in the reign of God. They do not really need recognition as being great because they are simply great before God.

October 1st

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

1st Reading: Zec 8:20-23:
Thus says the Lord of hosts: There shall yet come peoples, the inhabitants of many cities; and the inhabitants of one city shall approach those of another, and say, “Come! let us go to implore the favor of the Lord”; and, “I too will go to seek the Lord.” Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to implore the favor of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts: In those days ten men of every nationality, speaking different tongues, shall take hold, yes, take hold of every Jew by the edge of his garment and say, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”

Gospel: Lk 9:51-56:
As the time drew near when Jesus would be taken up to heaven, he made up his mind to go to Jerusalem. He sent ahead of him some messengers, who entered a Samaritan village to prepare a lodging for him. But the people would not receive him, because he was on his way to Jerusalem. Seeing this, James and John, his disciples, said, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to reduce them to ashes?” Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went on to another village.

The Lord could very well be considered among the pioneer advocates of non-violence. In the world where discord and disconnect among people are common, the Lord does not see retaliation and revenge as solution; avoidance of conflicts is still the best option. St. Therese of Lisieux learned this at a young age. In her Autobiography, she recounted her story with a fellow nun “who has the faculty of displeasing me in everything, in her ways, in her words, her character, everything seems very disagreeable to me”.

She could have given in to what she called natural antipathy but she taught herself, with much struggle, to become nice to her by charity, service, and smile that the other nun became completely convinced that she was a pleasing character. For this young saint this is her way of showing her authentic desire to love God: by possessing a truly loving soul. If we possess even just a bit of this saint’s paradigm of love, as our way of avoiding conflicts and violence, we have better chances of creating a world at peace.

October 2nd

The Guardian Angels

1st Reading: Neh 2:1-8:
In the month Nisan of the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when the wine was in my charge, I took some and offered it to the king. As I had never before been sad in his presence, the king asked me, “Why do you look sad? If you are not sick, you must be sad at heart.” Though I was seized with great fear, I answered the king: “May the king live forever! How could I not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been eaten out by fire?”

The king asked me, “What is it, then, that you wish?” I prayed to the God of heaven and then answered the king: “If it please the king, and if your servant is deserving of your favor, send me to Judah, to the city of my ancestors’ graves, to rebuild it.” Then the king, and the queen seated beside him, asked me how long my journey would take and when I would return. I set a date that was acceptable to him, and the king agreed that I might go.

I asked the king further: “If it please the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of West-of-Euphrates, that they may afford me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah; also a letter for Asaph, the keeper of the royal park, that he may give me wood for timbering the gates of the temple-citadel and for the city wall and the house that I shall occupy.” The king granted my requests, for the favoring hand of my God was upon me.

Gospel: Mt 18:1-5, 10:
At that time, the disciples came to Jesus and asked him, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then Jesus called a little child, set the child in the midst of the disciples, and said, “I assure you, that, unless you change, and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble, like this child, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and whoever receives such a child, in my name, receives me. See that you do not despise any of these little ones; for I tell you, their angels in heaven continually see the face of my heavenly Father.

I have experienced many times being rescued from imminent dangers by no one. And when I tell people about them, their easy remark is that it was my guardian angel at work. Each of us has a guardian angel. Psalm 91:11 states “For he will command his angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways.” Although in today’s gospel Jesus speaks only of children who have them, it doesn’t mean that once a child becomes an adult his or her angel leaves with task accomplished. Our guardian angel is our lifetime companion.

CCC 336 admits that “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.” Having a guardian angel speaks of God’s caring presence in our life; he does not will that we are totally left on our own. Be it to rescue us from figuring in accidents, or to assist us in difficult times, or to simply protect us in any way. Each of us has a special place in God’s heart. And for this we must be truly grateful.

October 3rd

1st Reading: Neh 8:1-4a, 5-6, 7b-12:
The whole people gathered as one in the open space before the Water Gate, and they called upon Ezra the scribe to bring forth the book of the law of Moses which the Lord prescribed for Israel. On the first day of the seventh month, therefore, Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly, which consisted of men, women, and those children old enough to understand. Standing at one end of the open place that was before the Water Gate, he read out of the book from daybreak until midday, in the presence of the men, the women, and those children old enough to understand; and all the people listened attentively to the book of the law.

Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that had been made for the occasion. He opened the scroll so that all the people might see it (for he was standing higher up than any of the people); and, as he opened it, all the people rose. Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people, their hands raised high, answered, “Amen, amen!” Then they bowed down and prostrated themselves before the Lord, their faces to the ground. As the people remained in their places, Ezra read plainly from the book of the law of God, interpreting it so that all could understand what was read. Then Nehemiah, that is, His Excellency, and Ezra the priest-scribe and the Levites who were instructing the people said to all the people: “Today is holy to the Lord your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep”–for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law.

He said further:  “Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks, and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared; for today is holy to our Lord. Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength!” And the Levites quieted all the people, saying, “Hush, for today is holy, and you must not be saddened.” Then all the people went to eat and drink, to distribute portions, and to celebrate with great joy, for they understood the words that had been expounded to them.

Gospel: Lk 10:1-12:
The Lord appointed seventy- two other disciples and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place, where he himself was to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is rich, but the workers are few. So you must ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to his harvest. Courage! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Set off without purse or bag or sandals; and do not stop at the homes of those you know. Whatever house you enter, first bless them saying: ‘Peace to this house.’ If a friend of peace lives there, the peace shall rest upon that person. But if not, the blessing will return to you.

Stay in that house eating and drinking at their table, for the worker deserves to be paid. Do not move from house to house. When they welcome you in any town, eat what they offer you. Heal the sick who are there and say to them: ‘The kingdom of God has drawn near to you.’ But in any town where you are not welcome, go to the marketplace and proclaim: Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off and leave with you. But know and be sure that the kingdom of God had come to you.’ I tell you that on the Judgment Day it will be better for Sodom than for this town.”

The Church, God’s family, was founded not only to take care of God’s flock by dispensing the sacraments to nourish it, to forgive, to heal, but also to attract more to be part of the flock. It is not only a community that provides attention to its members, but concerns herself as well of the well-being of non-members. Hence, she reaches out and opens her doors ready with a warm welcome to everyone who desires to be part of her.

We call this mission. And since WE are the CHURCH, to do mission is our shared call. Each one of us is entrusted with the task to bring the world to Christ and then guide the world to be part of Christ’s family. The gospel today outlines for us how we can undertake the work of mission: pray for the mission and for missionaries, become ambassadors of peace, be instruments of healing, and preach the Kingdom.

October 4th

St. Francis of Assisi

1st Reading: Bar 1:15-22:
During the Babylonian captivity, the exiles prayed: “Justice is with the Lord, our God; and we today are flushed with shame, we men of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem, that we, with our kings and rulers and priests and prophets, and with our ancestors, have sinned in the Lord’s sight and disobeyed him. We have neither heeded the voice of the Lord, our God, nor followed the precepts which the Lord set before us. From the time the Lord led our ancestors out of the land of Egypt until the present day, we have been disobedient to the Lord, our God, and only too ready to disregard his voice.

And the evils and the curse that the Lord enjoined upon Moses, his servant, at the time he led our ancestors forth from the land of Egypt to give us the land flowing with milk and honey, cling to us even today. For we did not heed the voice of the Lord, our God, in all the words of the prophets whom he sent us, but each one of us went off after the devices of his own wicked heart, served other gods, and did evil in the sight of the Lord, our God.”

Gospel: Lk 10:13-16:
Alas for you, Chorazin! Alas for you, Bethsaida! So many miracles have been worked in you! If the same miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would already be sitting in ashes and wearing the sackcloth of repentance. Surely for Tyre and Sidon it will be better on the Day of Judgment than for you. And what of you, city of Capernaum? Will you be lifted up to heaven? You will be thrown down to the place of the dead. Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me; and he who rejects me, rejects the one who sent me.”

There are harsh consequences when one closes one’s heart and life to God. And closing one’s heart and life to God means rejection of and resisting CHANGE. It is an imperative for the life of one who knows Jesus and who professes faith in Jesus to transform. This is why knowing Jesus only also is not enough and accepting Jesus also only is not enough. It must result to a revolution that leads to authentic, if not dramatic, conversion.

One good example can be seen in the life of the saint we celebrate today, St. Francis of Assisi whose life of conversion is much to be admired as a result of knowing Jesus. We too have encountered Jesus and are in fact, encountering Jesus still in many ways. But if that encounter does not move us into becoming the best that we can be as his followers, we are no better than Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. But if that encounter inspires us to live better lives, with unwavering commitment to Christ like St. Francis, ours will be a great reward on the Day of Judgment.

October 5th

Bl. Francis Xavier Seelos

1st Reading: Bar 4:5-12, 27-29:
Fear not, my people! Remember, Israel, You were sold to the nations not for your destruction; It was because you angered God that you were handed over to your foes. For you provoked your Maker with sacrifices to demons, to no-gods; you forsook the Eternal God who nourished you, and you grieved Jerusalem who fostered you. She indeed saw coming upon you the anger of God; and she said:

“Hear, you neighbors of Zion! God has brought great mourning upon me, for I have seen the captivity that the Eternal God has brought upon my sons and daughters. With joy I fostered them; but with mourning and lament I let them go. Let no one gloat over me, a widow, bereft of many: For the sins of my children I am left desolate, because they turned from the law of God.

Fear not, my children; call out to God! He who brought this upon you will remember you. As your hearts have been disposed to stray from God, turn now ten times the more to seek him; For he who has brought disaster upon you will, in saving you, bring you back enduring joy.”

Gospel: Lk 10:17-24:
The seventy-two disciples returned full of joy. They said, “Lord, even the demons obeyed us when we called on your name.” Then Jesus replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. You see, I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the Enemy, so that nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, don’t rejoice because the evil spirits submit to you; rejoice, rather, that your names are written in heaven.” At that time, Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and made them known to little ones.

Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. I have been given all things by my Father, so that no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and he to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said to them privately, “Fortunate are you to see what you see, for I tell you, that many prophets and kings would have liked to see what you see, but did not see it; and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

Many have asked if I possess the gift of healing, just like my good friend Roselle whose sick father-in-law I anointed in the hospital. According to her, he had been confined to his bed in the past months. But a few hours after the anointing, he stood up from bed and asked for milk! I sensed her excitement, but I am not sure if she sensed my bewilderment. Our gospel today forms part of the conclusion of the mission-sending of the 72 disciples. By this time, they returned to the company of Jesus bringing along thrilling success stories from their missionary undertakings. But Jesus was quick to remind them: “I have given you authority….”

What they have accomplished did not flow from their inherent capabilities, but from a power whose source is Jesus. My friend’s father-in-law survived for a few weeks before he finally went home to the Father, but it was not I who gave him those few more weeks to live! At the outset, Jesus’ words may appear more appropriate for us who are in the ministry and service of the Church. But a closer reflection reveals that the lesson is important for all Christians as well: we cannot be successful on our own; it is only with and through Jesus that we can accomplish great things. Remember, Jesus says in John 15:5 that “… apart from me you can do nothing.