Bible Diary for October 27th – November 2nd
1st Reading: Sir 35:12-14, 16-18:
The Lord is judge and shows no partiality. He will not disadvantage the poor, he who hears the prayer of the oppressed. He does not disdain the plea of the orphan, nor the complaint of the widow. The one who serves God wholeheartedly will be heard; his petition will reach the clouds. The prayer of the humble person pierces the clouds, and he is not consoled until he has been heard. His prayer will not cease until the Most High has looked down, until justice has been done in favor of the righteous.
2nd Reading: 2 Tim 4:6-8, 16-18:
As for me, I am already poured out as a libation, and the moment of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, with which the Lord, the just judge, will reward me, on that day, and not only me, but all those who have longed for his glorious coming.
At my first hearing in court, no one supported me; all deserted me. May the Lord not hold it against them. But the Lord was at my side, giving me strength, to proclaim the word fully, and let all the pagans hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will save me from all evil, bringing me to his heavenly kingdom. Glory to him for ever and ever. Amen!
Gospel: Lk 18:9-14:
Jesus told another parable to some persons fully convinced of their own righteousness, who looked down on others, “Two men went up to the Temple to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and said: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people, grasping, crooked, adulterous, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give the tenth of all my income to the Temple.’
“In the meantime the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast saying: ‘O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.’ “I tell you, when this man went down to his house, he had been set right with God, but not the other. For whoever makes himself out to be great will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be raised.”
The Pharisee’s prayer is a litany of all the good he has done and of his faithfulness to his religious obligations. But all these he did to compare himself with others and to show how much better he had become unlike the rest. This kind of prayer is overbearing and self-righteous. When we compare ourselves with others, we will always find ourselves better and proud. We will always see what we have and what others lack. But when we look at ourselves put side by side with God, the whole picture will change and we will be humbled. We will always find that we lack in many ways. “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”
1st Reading: Eph 2:19-22:
Brothers and sisters:
You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; in him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Gospel: Lk 6:12–16:
Jesus went out into the hills to pray, spending the whole night in prayer with God. When day came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them whom he called apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James son of Alpheus and Simon called the Zealot; Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who would be the traitor.
When I applied to the Society of the Divine Word (SVD), the interviewer from the Vocation Office asked me, ‘Why do you want to become an SVD?” I said that I wanted to become a missionary. He inquired further, “Why?” I reasoned that I wanted to give witness to the goodness of God, to help and be one with the great missionary work of the Church to bring Jesus to the world. After a few weeks I received a notice of acceptance. But I’m not sure if my answers did the work. The Church remembers today two apostles who were great missionaries, St. Simon the Zealot, and St. Jude son of James.
Their feast is jointly celebrated most probably because in the roster of apostles they are listed one after the other, and because both ended up in Persia in their missionary journey where they met martyrdom in the 1st century. We should not miss to admire their exemplary missionary character; they spent every ounce of their strength to preach Jesus. All of us Christ’s faithful are called to be missionaries. The world is a big mission field. But we do not need to go far to do this task. Right in our own backyards, in our own homes and communities, we can preach Jesus.
1st Reading: Rom 8:18-25:
Brothers and sisters:
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.
We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.
Gospel: Lk 13:18–21:
Jesus continued speaking, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? Imagine a person who has taken a mustard seed and planted it in the garden. The seed has grown and become like a small tree, so that the birds of the air shelter in its branches.” And Jesus said again, “What is the kingdom of God like? Imagine a woman who has taken yeast and hidden it in three measures of flour until it is all leavened.”
The words of Jesus today reminds me of his remark in Luke 17:21, “The kingdom of God is among (or within) you.” We do not need to look far in other words; we only need to see within ourselves and find that God reigns there. At first this reign of God within us can hardly be noticed, like a mustard seed whose size an unaided eye can barely see. Then it grows and gains more hold over our lives and we feel that like the birds we find benefit in its presence; it fires, guides, and inspires. Then we begin to see a turnabout.
In silence and in God’s grace, we become the kingdom of God incarnate. Then like yeast, in spite of our insignificance, we integrate ourselves into the dough, which is the world. From within we affect it, we penetrate it, and we transform it, leavened, to become his kingdom. God has a beautiful purpose for the world. He longs to see the world delight in his reign and presence. But God needs instruments to accomplish his plan. We are these instruments. But first we must see this kingdom at work within us and then make the witness of our lives become a force to change the world.
1st Reading: Rom 8:26-30:
Brothers and sisters:
The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will.
We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified.
Gospel: Lk 13:22-30:
Jesus went through towns and villages teaching and making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, is it true that few people will be saved?” And Jesus answered, “Do your best to enter by the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you will stand outside; then you will knock at the door calling: ‘Lord, open to us.’ But he will say to you: ‘I do not know where you come from.’
“Then you will say: We ate and drank with you and you taught in our streets! But he will reply: ‘I don’t know where you come from. Away from me all you workers of evil.’ “You will weep and grind your teeth when you see Abraham and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves left outside. Others will sit at table in the kingdom of God, people coming from east and west, from north and south. Some who are among the last will be the first, and others who were first will be last!”
I have encountered many Christian groups in the course of my life as a college student. They were very attractive groups because they showed care for students from the province like me who had no family or friends nearby. Their warmth makes one feel at home right away and their cordial personalities give that feeling that you have been friends for a long time. These, of course, I noticed soon, were just introductory moves. The real motive is conversion, especially when the newcomer happens to be a Roman Catholic. Indoctrination slowly becomes part of the gathering. And before long, they will lead you to pray for forgiveness and to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Then hugs come rushing, some accompanied with tears, to congratulate you for having been saved. There is a beautiful portion in this gospel text that provides a great caution for all Christians. Not everyone who accepts and recognizes Jesus as Lord is assured of salvation. It is only for those who pass the test of the narrow door. It is true that believing in Jesus is a fundamental requisite. But the process does not stop there. Throughout one’s life should be an avoidance of evil and of doing wicked things, and embracing the cost of discipleship, always persevering, always generous, and always loving.
1st Reading: Rom 8:31b-39:
Brothers and sisters:
If God is for us, who can be against us? He did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who acquits us. Who will condemn? It is Christ Jesus who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written:
For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.
No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Gospel: Lk 13:31-35:
Some Pharisees came to Jesus and gave him this warning, “Leave this place and go on your way, for Herod wants to kill you.” Jesus said to them, “Go and give that fox my answer: ‘I drive out demons and heal today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my course!’ Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and for a little longer, for it would not be fitting for a prophet to be killed outside Jerusalem.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you slay the prophets and stone your apostles! How often have I tried to bring together your children, as a bird gathers her young under her wings, but you refused! From now on you will be left with your temple and you will no longer see me until the time when you will say: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Two outstanding traits in the personality of Jesus evident in the gospel are courage and determination. He knew that there was a threat against his life and yet he was not deterred from doing his work. He could just have postponed things and allowed the heat of controversy to cool down as most of us are inclined to do. But most important was the accomplishment of his mission. And greater than the preservation of his life and assurance of security was doing God’s will. I don’t believe that he didn’t value his own life, but he was well aware that he needed to spend it for the glory of the Father.
We were not born into this world by accident. Our existence has a purpose. And according to the 1941 Baltimore Catechism whose contents are basically in consonance with the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church, the purpose of man’s existence is to know, to love, and to serve God. This is our duty. This is our mission. May we learn from the courage and determination of Jesus that we too may not be discouraged by hardships and difficulties and face the risk even when our life is on the line.
All Saints’ Day
1st Reading: Rev 7:2-4, 9-14:
I, John, saw another angel come up from the East, holding the seal of the living God. He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels who were given power to damage the land and the sea, “Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand marked from every tribe of the children of Israel. After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.”
All the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They prostrated themselves before the throne, worshiped God, and exclaimed: “Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me, “Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?” I said to him, “My lord, you are the one who knows.” He said to me, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.”
2nd Reading: 1 Jn 3:1-3:
See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure.
Gospel: Mt 5:1-12a:
Jesus sat down and his disciples gathered around him. Then he spoke and began to teach them: “Fortunate are those who have the spirit of the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Fortunate are those who mourn, they shall be comforted. “Fortunate are the gentle, they shall possess the land. “Fortunate are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied. “Fortunate are the merciful, for they shall find mercy.
“Fortunate are those with a pure heart, for they shall see God. “Fortunate are those who work for peace, they shall be called children of God. “Fortunate are those who are persecuted for the cause of justice, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Fortunate are you, when people insult you and persecute you and speak all kinds of evil against you because you are my followers. Be glad and joyful, for a great reward is kept for you in God.”
Saints are people like us, of flesh and blood. They came from all walks of life: John Paul II and John XXIII were popes; Ezekiel Moreno was a priest and bishop; Thomas More was a lawyer and statesman; Margaret of Scotland was queen, wife, and mother of 10; Therese of Lisieux was a nun; Tarcisius was an altar boy; Francis of Asissi was a deacon; Pedro Calungsod was a catechist; Lorenzo Ruiz was a layman; Isidore was a farmer; Louis and Zellie Martin were husband and wife, etc. They were very much like us. But what makes the difference? The difference lies in the fact that their Christian Faith dictated and gave direction to their way of life.
The difference is that they lived the Faith they embraced, and the Gospel they believed. They were totally devoted to Jesus. They had their own weakness, and like us they had to struggle with human inclinations and temptations, but they triumphed in their pursuit of holiness; they were Christians in and out. They took to heart not to stain their identity as children of God. “Be like saints” is our battle cry today. It will indeed be a great rejoicing when someday we will find each other counted and numbered among the saints, among those who will be marked and sealed as children of God (Rev. 7:3; 1 Jn 3:1,2).
All Souls’ Day
1st Reading: Wis 3:1-9:
The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace. For if before men, indeed, they be punished, yet is their hope full of immortality; chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself.
As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself. In the time of their visitation they shall shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble; they shall judge nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord shall be their King forever. Those who trust in him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with him in love: because grace and mercy are with his holy ones, and his care is with his elect.
2nd Reading: Rom 5:5-11:
Brothers and sisters:
Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. For Christ, while we were still helpless, died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.
How much more then, since we are now justified by his Blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath. Indeed, if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life. Not only that, but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Gospel: Jn 6:37-40:
(…) All the nations will be brought before him; and, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, so will he do with them, placing the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left. “The king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, blessed of my Father! Take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you welcomed me into your home. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me.
I was in prison, and you came to see me.’ (…) “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Go, cursed people, out of my sight, into the eternal fire, which has been prepared for the devil and his angels! For I was hungry, and you did not give me anything to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not welcome me into your house; I was naked, and you did not clothe me; I was sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me.’ “(…) ‘Truly I say to you: just as you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for me.’ (…)“
Many people are afraid of death. In most cases this is because many of us think that death is loss. But our Christian teachings provide us with courage by telling us that death is but a passage to life, to the real life where all of us are destined to reach. Of course I also understand that the source of fear may be the teaching that there are two possibilities of the life that awaits us after death: life in eternal bliss (heaven) or life in eternal punishment (hell). But then, this fear can be mitigated. While we are still living today, let us make sure that we will reach heaven tomorrow.
And instead of fearing death, we should always be ready for it. One beautiful line from the film “Dr. Strange” said: Death is a beautiful thing. It’s when we know that our days are numbered that we begin to live life better. Today we pray for all of those who have gone ahead of us in death, that through God’s mercy they will receive the reward of eternal life with him. We pray for ourselves too that when our time comes, we will share in the same reward.