Bible Diary for August 20th – August 26th

20 de agosto

20º domingo de tiempo ordinario
San Bernardo de Clairvaux

1st Reading: Is 56:1, 6-7:
Thus says the Lord: Observe what is right, do what is just; for my salvation is about to come, my justice, about to be revealed. The foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, ministering to him, loving the name of the Lord, and becoming his servants— all who keep the sabbath free from profanation and hold to my covenant, them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

2nd Reading: Rom 11:13-15, 29-32:
Brothers and sisters: I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I glory in my ministry in order to make my race jealous and thus save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. Just as you once disobeyed God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now disobeyed in order that, by virtue of the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.

Evangelio: Mt 15: 21-28:
At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her. Jesus’ disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.

A person of lesser stuff would have just walked away when Jesus began to speak of His exclusive ministry for the lost sheep of Israel. The Canaanite woman and her daughter did not belong to the race of Abraham. She neither had the right to ask nor impose healing for her daughter on Him. But she had something that made her hold her ground. It was desperation over a loved one’s hopeless condition. This enabled her to forget about herself and allowed all her strength to work for the cure of her beloved daughter. Her selflessness made her a strong woman.

She was able to do what she did because she loved her daughter that much. And so Jesus was won over. He granted the request of the mother who had suffered for love. The Canaanite woman facilitated the healing of her daughter by her persistence. Have I helped others towards the point of persistence? Or do I help only at my own convenience? Today I will try to identify those whom I would like to help even at the expense of my own comfort and pride.

21 de agosto

San pio x

1st Reading: Jgs 2:11-19:
The children of Israel offended the Lord by serving the Baals. Abandoning the Lord, the God of their fathers, who led them out of the land of Egypt, they followed the other gods of the various nations around them, and by their worship of these gods provoked the Lord. Because they had thus abandoned him and served Baal and the Ashtaroth, the anger of the Lord flared up against Israel, and he delivered them over to plunderers who despoiled them. He allowed them to fall into the power of their enemies round about whom they were no longer able to withstand. Whatever they undertook, the Lord turned into disaster for them, as in his warning he had sworn he would do, till they were in great distress.

Even when the Lord raised up judges to deliver them from the power of their despoilers, they did not listen to their judges, but abandoned themselves to the worship of other gods. They were quick to stray from the way their fathers had taken, and did not follow their example of obedience to the commandments of the Lord. Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, he would be with the judge and save them from the power of their enemies as long as the judge lived; it was thus the Lord took pity on their distressful cries of affliction under their oppressors. But when the judge died, they would relapse and do worse than their ancestors, following other gods in service and worship, relinquishing none of their evil practices or stubborn conduct.

Evangelio: Mt 19: 16-22:
A young man approached Jesus and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He asked him, “Which ones?” And Jesus replied, “You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Keeping the commandments is easy for some. They go through life, conscious of the dos and don’ts of their faith, and follow it conscientiously. With this they will be okay. It is only when they ask what more they can do to demonstrate their faith that problems may arise. For the bar of holiness is set high. Jesus, who left everything behind in obedience to God’s will, is the standard. We are therefore forewarned never to ask God a question if we are not yet ready for the possible answer. Discipleship grows in strength in time. We must not force it to blossom prematurely.

22 de agosto

Reinado de María

1st Reading: Jgs 6:11-24a:
El ángel del Señor vino y se sentó debajo del terebinth en Ofra que pertenecía a Joás el Abiezrita. Mientras su hijo Gedeón estaba golpeando el trigo en la prensa de vino para salvarlo de los madianitas, el ángel del Señor se le apareció y le dijo: "¡El Señor está contigo, oh campeón!" Gedeón le dijo: "Mi Señor, Si el Señor está con nosotros, ¿por qué nos ha sucedido todo esto? ¿Dónde están sus maravillas que nuestros padres nos dijeron cuando dijeron: "¿No nos sacó el Señor de Egipto?" Por ahora, el Señor nos ha abandonado y nos ha entregado al poder de Madián ". El Señor se volvió hacia él y le dijo:" Ve con la fuerza que tienes y salva a Israel del poder de Madián. Soy yo quien te envía.

But Gideon answered him, “Please, my lord, how can I save Israel? My family is the lowliest in Manasseh, and I am the most insignificant in my father’s house.” “I shall be with you,” the Lord said to him, “and you will cut down Midian to the last man.” Gideon answered him, “If I find favor with you, give me a sign that you are speaking with me. Do not depart from here, I pray you, until I come back to you and bring out my offering and set it before you.” He answered, “I will await your return.” So Gideon went off and prepared a kid and a measure of flour in the form of unleavened cakes. Putting the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot, he brought them out to him under the terebinth and presented them.

The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and unleavened cakes and lay them on this rock; then pour out the broth.” When he had done so, the angel of the Lord stretched out the tip of the staff he held, and touched the meat and unleavened cakes. Thereupon a fire came up from the rock that consumed the meat and unleavened cakes, and the angel of the Lord disappeared from sight. Gideon, now aware that it had been the angel of the Lord, said, “Alas, Lord God, that I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!” The Lord answered him, “Be calm, do not fear. You shall not die.” So Gideon built there an altar to the Lord and called it Yahweh-shalom.

Evangelio: Mt 19: 23-30:
Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For men this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Then Peter said to him in reply, “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?”

Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

Why is it so dangerous to be rich? Because you are against spiritual wisdom that says it is difficult for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God. The Gospel today tells as much. The consolation is that it does not express out rightly that the rich are excluded de facto from God’s kingdom. It only talks about the hardship riches entail in entering God’s kingdom. It is because of this that the rich of this world have to work overtime to be assured of salvation. And for those who feel exempted because of the lack of material wealth, they have to seriously see whether they have other forms of “riches” that might be a hindrance to the kingdom. In the end, it calls all of us to make a serious inventory of the “riches” we hold dear that might seal our fate in the final days to come.

23 de agosto

Santa Rosa de Lima

1st Reading: Jgs 9:6-15:
All the citizens of Shechem and all Beth-millo came together and proceeded to make Abimelech king by the terebinth at the memorial pillar in Shechem. When this was reported to him, Jotham went to the top of Mount Gerizim and, standing there, cried out to them in a loud voice: “Hear me, citizens of Shechem, that God may then hear you! Once the trees went to anoint a king over themselves. So they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’ But the olive tree answered them, ‘Must I give up my rich oil, whereby men and gods are honored, and go to wave over the trees?’

Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come; you reign over us!’ But the fig tree answered them, ‘Must I give up my sweetness and my good fruit, and go to wave over the trees?’ Then the trees said to the vine, ‘Come you, and reign over us.’ But the vine answered them, ‘Must I give up my wine that cheers gods and men, and go to wave over the trees?’ Then all the trees said to the buckthorn, ‘Come; you reign over us!’ But the buckthorn replied to the trees, ‘If you wish to anoint me king over you in good faith, come and take refuge in my shadow. Otherwise, let fire come from the buckthorn and devour the cedars of Lebanon.'”

Evangelio: Mt 20: 1-16:
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, he 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, he 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 parable seems to tell us that it is not our effort that will bring us to heaven but the generosity of Him who dwells in the heavenly kingdom. For no matter how much we try, we will only be worth “a day’s wage.” But even though we try later like the workers who were hired late, still we will get a day’s worth wage if the owner wills it. And no one can question His action. He is the manager of His possessions and He will dispose of them according to His will. And so rather than fret whether we have received more than those who were late, let us just do what we can do for God. Let us rejoice that He is generous because all of us in the end do not deserve what we will receive.

24 de agosto

San Bartolomé

1st Reading: Rv 21:9b-14:
The angel spoke to me, saying, “Come here. I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” He took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It gleamed with the splendor of God. Its radiance was like that of a precious stone, like jasper, clear as crystal. It had a massive, high wall, with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed and on which names were inscribed, the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. There were three gates facing east, three north, three south, and three west. The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.

Evangelio: Jn 1, 45-51:
Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 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.”

Today’s feast honors St. Bartholomew, one of the Twelve, otherwise known as Nathanael. He might be considered rather skeptical about the possibility of the Messiah coming from a lowly place called Nazareth. Jesus saw in him sincerity and genuineness. Hence the compliment: “This man is a real Israelite. There is no guile in him.” That the Lord knew him even before they encountered each other came as a surprise to Nathanael. Truly the Lord sees us and knows us more than we know ourselves. The saints such as Augustine affirm this insight. The beautiful thing is that in spite of his awareness of our weaknesses and sins the Lord takes the risk in calling us to participate in his mission.

He is more interested in our potential for holiness. An important quality or trait that the Lord looks for in his disciples is genuineness or honesty. Duplicity or hypocrisy contradicts the identity of the disciple and undermines his ministry. What is expected of a Christian disciple is integrity. The fruitfulness of his or her ministry rises and falls with this. Vibrant faith, as the one displayed by Nathanael, is an indispensable element of discipleship. It is this faith that will allow us to see “much greater things.” Faith gives us a special and powerful vision that enables us to see beyond the physical and material. It will enable us to see “the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

25 de agosto

San Luis IX
San José Calasanz

Primera lectura: Ru 1: 1, 3-6, 14b-16, 22:
Una vez en el tiempo de los jueces hubo una hambruna en la tierra; Entonces un hombre de Belén de Judá partió con su esposa y sus dos hijos para residir en la meseta de Moab. Elimelec, el esposo de Noemí, murió y ella se quedó con sus dos hijos, quienes se casaron con mujeres moabitas, una llamada Orfa, la otra Rut. Cuando vivieron allí unos diez años, Mahlon y Chilion también murieron, y la mujer no quedó ni con sus dos hijos ni con su esposo. Luego se preparó para regresar de la meseta de Moab porque allí le llegó la noticia de que el Señor había visitado a su pueblo y les había dado comida.

Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye, but Ruth stayed with her. Naomi said, “See now! Your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her god. Go back after your sister-in-law!” But Ruth said, “Do not ask me to abandon or forsake you! For wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” Thus it was that Naomi returned with the Moabite daughter-in-law, Ruth, who accompanied her back from the plateau of Moab. They arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.

Evangelio: Mt 22: 34-40:
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law, tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

The prophet Ezekiel was one of the Jews deported to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar in 597 B.C. He had warned his nation about this possible disaster before the fall of Jerusalem (Ez 1—24), but to no avail. He lived the rest of his life in exile. However, a good part of his book (chs. 33 to 39) describes the return of the people to Palestine and the restoration of the temple of Jerusalem, and of the nation Israel. Today’s first reading is taken from this section of his book.

In the previous chapter of the book, God has announced through Ezekiel the gift of the Spirit to enable individual Israelites henceforth to obey the law faithfully. In today’s reading it is announced that the Spirit will also be given collectively to the people and will thus restore and renew the nation, following its exile to the graveyard of Babylon. This national resurrection is predicted here symbolically in a vision of dry bones coming back to life under the action of the Holy Spirit (mentioned 7 times here). The Holy Spirit is our life-giving energy, enabling us to serve God freely and joyfully.

26 de agosto

1st Reading: Ru 2:1-3, 8-11; 4:13-17:
Naomi had a prominent kinsman named Boaz, of the clan of her husband Elimelech. Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go and glean ears of grain in the field of anyone who will allow me that favor.” Naomi said to her, “Go, my daughter,” and she went. The field she entered to glean after the harvesters happened to be the section belonging to Boaz of the clan of Elimelech. Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter! Do not go to glean in anyone else’s field; you are not to leave here. Stay here with my women servants.

Watch to see which field is to be harvested, and follow them; I have commanded the young men to do you no harm. When you are thirsty, you may go and drink from the vessels the young men have filled.” Casting herself prostrate upon the ground, Ruth said to him, “Why should I, a foreigner, be favored with your notice?” Boaz answered her: “I have had a complete account of what you have done for your mother-in-law after your husband’s death; you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know previously.”

Boaz took Ruth. When they came together as man and wife, the Lord enabled her to conceive and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed is the Lord who has not failed to provide you today with an heir! May he become famous in Israel! He will be your comfort and the support of your old age, for his mother is the daughter-in-law who loves you. She is worth more to you than seven sons!” Naomi took the child, placed him on her lap, and became his nurse. And the neighbor women gave him his name, at the news that a grandson had been born to Naomi. They called him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Gospel: Mt 23:1-12:
Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’ As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Jesus’ concept of greatness is a direct contradiction to the contemporary worldview which measures greatness in terms of riches, power, prestige and position. For the Lord, greatness is to be measured in terms of service, i.e., not how many serve you but how many do you serve. It is always possible to work for the Church and for God without being a servant. In fact, there are times when Church workers do their jobs grudgingly or go about their ministries for the wrong motives, such as self-promotion.
In the gospel, Jesus exhorts the disciples and the crowds not to follow the bad example of the Scribes and Pharisees who desire prominence. The invitation is to follow the example of Jesus the Servant.

To follow his example is to have the heart and mind of a servant. Without the heart and mind of a servant, it is easy for a Christian to succumb to the temptation to misuse or abuse his or her position, talents, skills, education for personal gain. A servant like Jesus exhibits humility, availability, flexibility, spontaneity and punctuality. He performs his tasks with dedication and devotion, be it great or small. A servant with the heart and mind like Jesus is faithful to his commitment. He can be relied upon to bring to completion whatever mission entrusted to him. A real servant like Jesus maintains a low profile. He does not promote or call attention to himself or to his achievements. He is not a celebrity and does not seek approval or applause of others. He is content with quietly serving in the shadows.