Bible Diary for September 6th – 12th
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Ezk 33:7–9:
For your part, son of man, I have set you as a watchman for Israel; and when you hear my word, you must give them my warning. When I say to the wicked: ‘Wicked man, you shall die for sure,’ if you do not warn the wicked man to turn from his ways, he will die because of his sin; but I will also call you to account for his blood. If you warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin; but you, yourself, will be saved.
2nd Reading: Rom 13:8–10:
Do not be in debt to anyone. Let this be the only debt of one to another: Love. The one who loves his or her neighbor fulﬁlls the law. For the commandments: Do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not covet, and whatever else, are summarized in this one: You will love your neighbor as yourself. Love cannot do the neighbor any harm; so love fulﬁlls the whole law.
Gospel: Mt 18:15–20:
“If your brother has sinned against you, go and point out the fault to him, when the two of you are alone; and if he listens to you, you have won back your brother. If he doesn’t listen to you, take with you one or two others, so that the case may be decided by the evidence of two or three witnesses. And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the assembled Church. But if he does not listen to the Church, then regard him as a pagan, or a tax collector. I say to you: whatever you bind on earth, heaven will keep bound; and whatever you unbind on earth, heaven will keep unbound. In like manner, I say to you, if, on earth, two of you agree in asking for anything, it will be granted to you by my heavenly Father; for where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there, among them.”
The wellbeing and harmony of the community is threatened when two or more members are not at peace with one another. It is because of its repercussion to the community that every conflict is a communitarian responsibility. First, on effort to reconcile is done on the level of the conflicting parties; then, with their close friends and acquaintances up to the assembly, when the first two efforts on mediation fail. It is thus not a simple matter when we do something wrong even on the personal level. There will always be a social dimension to our every act.
With this in mind, it is imperative to develop a clear social conscience that takes the common good as a factor in every act we do. The world would be a better place if we care enough for the good of others as we care for our own good. I usually have occasions of misunderstanding with others. Sometimes I become passionate with the differences that we have. But today is a day of healing and reconciliation. I will forgive those who hurt me and I will ask forgiveness from those whom I have hurt today.
1st Reading: 1 Cor 5:1-8:
Brothers and sisters: It is widely reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of a kind not found even among pagans. A man living with his father’s wife. And you are inflated with pride. Should you not rather have been sorrowful? The one who did this deed should be expelled from your midst. I, for my part, although absent in body but present in spirit, have already, as if present, pronounced judgment on the one who has committed this deed, in the name of our Lord Jesus: when you have gathered together and I am with you in spirit with the power of the Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.
Your boasting is not appropriate. Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough? Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough, inasmuch as you are unleavened. For our Paschal Lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Gospel Lk 6:6-11:
On a certain sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the Sabbath so that they might discover a reason to accuse him. But he realized their intentions and said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up and stand before us.”
And he rose and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” Looking around at them all, he then said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so and his hand was restored. But they became enraged and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.
There was an objection from the Pharisees because Jesus was breaking their rules by healing on the Sabbath; their position (their power) was being threatened. There are many like them, whose position and power depend on others remaining powerless. This kind of power always has an agenda, it is power over or against others. It is a jockeying for position and privilege; fundamentally it is aggression. This kind of power exists wherever there are people who have not been converted by the gospel; it exists in the Church, where there are many unconverted. A question for a quiet hour: when was the last time I empowered anyone but myself?
Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
1st Reading: Mic 5:1–4:
But you, Bethlehem Ephrata, so small that you are hardly named among the clans of Judah; from you shall I raise the one who is to rule over Israel. For he comes forth from of old, from the ancient times. Yahweh, therefore, will abandon Israel until such time as she, who is to give birth, has given birth. Then the rest of his deported brothers will return to the people of Israel. He will stand, and shepherd his ﬂock with the strength of Yahweh, in the glorious Name of Yahweh, his God. They will live safely, while he wins renown to the ends of the earth. He shall be peace. When the Assyrian invades our land and sets foot on our territory, we will raise against him not one, but seven shepherds; eight warlords.
Gospel: Mt 1:1–16, 18–23:
This is the account of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (their mother was Tamar), Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron of Aram. Aram was the father of Aminadab, Aminadab of Nahshon, Nahshon of Salmon. Salmon was the father of Boaz. His mother was Rahab. Boaz was the father of Obed. His mother was Ruth. Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David, the king. David was the father of Solomon.
His mother had been Uriah’s wife. Solomon was the father of Rehoboam. Then came the kings: Abijah, Asaph, Jehoshaphat, Joram, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah. Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the deportation to Babylon. After the deportation to Babylon, Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel and Salathiel of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud, Abiud of Eliakim, and Eliakim of Azor. Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, and Akim the father of Eliud. Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar of Matthan, and Matthan of Jacob.
Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and from her came Jesus who is called the Christ —the Messiah. This is how Jesus Christ was born: Mary his mother had been given to Joseph in marriage, but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to disgrace her.
While he was pondering over this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a son. You shall call him ‘Jesus’ for he will save his people from their sins.” All this happened in order to fulﬁll what the Lord had said through the prophet: The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and he will be called Emmanuel, which means: God-with-us.
Today, we celebrate the nativity of Mary. But the Gospel reading instead recalls the genealogy and the birth of our Lord. This is not accidental but intentional. The liturgy reminds us that the Blessed Virgin is intimately linked to her Son. All the privileges and graces she received are because she is the mother of our Lord. So we celebrate the birth of Mary by recalling her Son. She is blessed among women not by her own merit but because of the merits her Son gained for her. This also tells us that from birth, she had been marked by the divine for this singular honor. She was born to be the vessel of the Son of God who will also be called the Son of Mary, her very own Son.
St. Peter Claver
1st Reading: 1 Cor 7:25–31:
With regard to those who remain virgins, I have no special commandment from the Lord, but I give some advice, hoping that I am worthy of trust by the mercy of the Lord. I think this is good in these hard times in which we live. It is good for someone to remain as he is. If you are married, do not try to divorce your wife; if you are not married, do not marry. He who marries does not sin, nor does the young girl sin who marries. Yet they will face disturbing experiences, and I would like to spare you.
I say this, brothers and sisters: time is running out, and those who are married must live as if not married; those who weep as if not weeping; those who are happy as if they were not happy; those buying something as if they had not bought it, and those enjoying the present life as if they were not enjoying it. For the order of this world is vanishing.
Gospel: Lk 6:20–26:
Then, looking at his disciples, Jesus said, “Fortunate are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours. Fortunate are you, who are hungry now, for you will be ﬁlled. Fortunate are you, who weep now, for you will laugh. Fortunate are you, when people hate you, when they reject you and insult you and number you among criminals, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven. Remember, that is how the ancestors of the people treated the prophets. But alas for you, who have wealth, for you have been comforted now. Alas for you, who are full, for you will go hungry. Alas for you, who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Alas for you, when people speak well of you, for that is how the ancestors of the people treated the false prophets.”
How can people who are at the losing end like the poor, the hungry, the weeping and the likes be ever fortunate in this world? Isn’t it that they represent a sorry lot? That would probably be true if we set our sight only in the here and now, and in this world. But if we expand our horizon and include eternity, the words of Jesus make sense. They are true especially if we suffer all these because we follow Him faithfully.
It is faith that makes us believe that a glorious future awaits those who suffer on behalf of the Lord. How to explain it might be a problem, limited as we are; but countless men and women have risked and found the word of the Lord to be true. And so we are not treading on new ground; a cloud of witnesses have been ahead of us. May their examples and their ultimate triumph inspire us to go on despite hardships and tribulations.
1st Reading: 1 Cor 8:1b–7, 11–13:
Regarding meat from the offerings to idols, we know that all of us have knowledge, but knowledge puffs up, while love builds. If anyone thinks that he has knowledge, he does not yet know as he should know, but if someone loves (God), he has been known (by God). Can we, then, eat meat from offerings to the idols? We know that an idol is without existence and that there is no God but one. People speak indeed of other gods in heaven and on earth and, in this sense, there are many gods and lords. Yet for us, there is but one God, the Father, from whom everything comes, and to whom we go.
And there is one Lord, Christ Jesus, through whom everything exists, and through him, we exist. Not everyone, however, has that knowledge. For some persons, who, until recently, took the idols seriously, that food remains linked to the idol, and eating of it stains their conscience, which is unformed. Then, with your knowledge, you would have caused your weak brother or sister to perish, the one for whom Christ died. When you disturb the weak conscience of your brother or sister, and sin against them, you sin against Christ himself. Therefore, if any food will bring my brother to sin, I shall never eat this food, lest my brother or sister fall.
Gospel: Lk 6:27–38:
But I say to you who hear me: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who treat you badly. To the one who strikes you on the cheek, turn the other cheek; from the one who takes your coat, do not keep back your shirt. Give to the one who asks, and if anyone has taken something from you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have others do to you. If you love only those who love you, what kind of grace is yours? Even sinners love those who love them. If you do favors to those who are good to you, what kind of grace is yours? Even sinners do the same. If you lend only when you expect to receive, what kind of grace is yours? For sinners also lend to sinners, expecting to receive something in return. But love your enemies and do good to them, and lend when there is nothing to expect in return. Then will your reward be great, and you will be sons and daughters of the Most High. For he is kind toward the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Don’t be a judge of others and you will not be judged; do not condemn and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven; give and it will be given to you, and you will receive in your sack good measure, pressed down, full and running over. For the measure you give will be the measure you receive back.”
Love is okay as long as it is with those who love you in return. There is reciprocity and you only respond to what you have received. But to love enemies? Not to return hate with hate? This is something that will tax human capacities. And this is the invitation of Jesus in our Gospel today. To subject ourselves to the stress of love so that we will tax our resources and be moved to beg from someone whose strength to love beyond human measure is inexhaustible… God Himself. This invitation to selfless love is an invitation as well to intimacy with someone whose very self definition is love.
1st Reading: 1 Cor 9:16–19, 22b–27:
Because I cannot boast of announcing the gospel: I am bound to do it. Woe to me, if I do not preach the gospel! If I preached voluntarily, I could expect my reward, but I have been trusted with this ofﬁce, against my will. How can I, then, deserve a reward? In announcing the gospel, I will do it freely, without making use of the rights given to me by the gospel. So, feeling free with everybody, I have become everybody’s slave, in order to gain a greater number. To the weak, I made myself weak, to win the weak. So, I made myself all things to all people, in order to save, by all possible means, some of them.
This, I do, for the gospel, so that I, too, have a share of it. Have you not learned anything from the stadium? Many run, but only one gets the prize. Run, therefore, intending to win it, as athletes, who impose upon themselves a rigorous discipline. Yet, for them the wreath is of laurels which wither, while for us, it does not wither. So, then, I run, knowing where I go. I box, but not aimlessly in the air. I punish my body and control it, lest, after preaching to others, I myself should be rejected.
Gospel: Lk 6:39–42:
And Jesus offered this example, “Can a blind person lead another blind person? Surely both will fall into a ditch. A disciple is not above the master; but when fully trained, he will be like the master. So why do you pay attention to the speck in your brother’s eye, while you have a log in your eye, and are not conscious of it? How can you say to your neighbor, ‘Friend, let me take this speck out of your eye,’ when you can’t remove the log in your own? You hypocrite! First remove the log from your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your neighbor’s eye.”
To lead others demands that we ourselves have acquired a level of self-mastery above those whom we guide. This means that we have undergone certain formation or life experiences that have led to wisdom. Without these, we will be merely blind guides groping with those we lead in darkness. Perhaps in this Gospel, Jesus tells us the great necessity of being formed by Him our Teacher and Guide, that we learn His ways and transmit it to others by word and example. Otherwise we will depend on our own resources which are limited. This will hinder our effectivity. Today, let us genuinely submit to the school of Jesus so that we will learn from the best.
Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary
1st Reading: 1 Cor 10:14–22:
Therefore, dear friends, shun the cult of idols. I address you as intelligent per-sons; judge what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a communion with the blood of Christ? And the bread that we break, is it not a communion with the body of Christ? The bread is one, and so we, though many, form one body, sharing the one bread. Consider the Israelites. For them, to eat of the victim is to come into communion with its altar. What does all that mean?
That the meat is really consecrated to the idol, or that the idol is a being. However, when the pagans offer a sacriﬁce, the sacriﬁce goes to the demons, not to God. I do not want you to come into fellowship with demons. You cannot drink, at the same time, from the cup of the Lord and from the cup of demons. You cannot share in the table of the Lord and in the table of the demons. Do we want, perhaps, to provoke the jealousy of the Lord? Could we be stronger than he?
Gospel: Lk 6:43–49:
“No healthy tree bears bad fruit, no poor tree bears good fruit. And each tree is known by the fruit it bears: you don’t gather ﬁgs from thorns, or grapes from brambles. Similarly, the good person draws good things from the good stored in his heart, and an evil person draws evil things from the evil stored in his heart. For the mouth speaks from the fullness of the heart. Why do you call me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ and do not do what I say? I will show you what the one is like, who comes to me, and listens to my words, and acts accordingly. That person is like the builder who dug deep, and laid the foundations of his house on rock. The river overﬂowed, and the stream dashed against the house, but could not carry it off because the house had been well built. But the one who listens and does not act, is like a man who built his house on the ground without a foundation. The ﬂood burst against it, and the house fell at once: and what a terrible disaster that was!”
There is a saying that thought generates speech, and speech generates action. If this is true, then He who informs your thoughts will also influence your words and actions. Jesus points out that what is inside is manifested by how we speak and act externally. That is one motivation enough to select only what is good to store in our heart and mind. This is a strong invitation to us listeners to hear His words and to let it be the motivation of our speech and action. In doing so, we are building a strong foundation for our future like a house built on solid ground. We will have the mind and heart of Jesus. He will recognize us when He comes again in His glory.