Bible Diary for February 18th – February 24th

February 18th

1er domingo de Cuaresma

1st Reading: Gn 9:8-15:
God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “See, I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you: all the birds, and the various tame and wild animals that were with you and came out of the ark. I will establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood; there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth.” God added: “This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come, of the covenant between me and you and every living creature with you: I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears in the clouds, I will recall the covenant I have made between me and you and all living beings, so that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all mortal beings.”

2nd Reading: 1 Pt 3:18-22:
Beloved: Christ suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the Spirit. In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. This prefigured baptism, which saves you now. It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.

Gospel: Mk 1:12-15:
The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

In life there are situations when we are tested, not necessarily enticed to do evil. There are situations that everyone, even the upright person, has to face where we are invited to take a stand and thus strengthen our faith. How do you see and address temptations or the lure of the devil in your everyday life? Do you welcome them for growth and purification or just run and avoid them and stay in fear or trembling? Lord Jesus, my Savior, grant me the serenity of heart to face the trials that may come along my way. Lead me to uphold what is right and give me the wisdom to understand the good and the bad happening in my journey personally and as a community and lead me to compose myself as a person with honor and dignity as a child of God. Amen. Identify three things that you would like to change in your ways of doing things or in your attitude as you begin the Season of Lent and plan or visualize how you will do it.

February 19th

1st Reading: Lv 19:1-2, 11-18:
The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the whole assembly of the children of Israel and tell them: Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy. “You shall not steal. You shall not lie or speak falsely to one another. You shall not swear falsely by my name, thus profaning the name of your God. I am the Lord. “You shall not defraud or rob your neighbor. You shall not withhold overnight the wages of your day laborer. You shall not curse the deaf, or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but you shall fear your God.

I am the Lord. “You shall not act dishonestly in rendering judgment. Show neither partiality to the weak nor deference to the mighty, but judge your fellow men justly. You shall not go about spreading slander among your kin; nor shall you stand by idly when your neighbor’s life is at stake. I am the Lord. “You shall not bear hatred for your brother in your heart. Though you may have to reprove him, do not incur sin because of him. Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your fellow countrymen. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”

Gospel: Mt 25:31-46:
Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’

Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’

Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Many charlatans throughout the ages have proclaimed the end of the world. Even in our lifetime alone, too many claims of the end time have been made. Yet the world still revolves around its orbit. Perhaps toying with other people’s fears is the easiest way to access their allegiance. Besides, so many people don’t want to make the necessary preparation to welcome the end time with confidence. This make them easy targets to those who preach fire and brimstone to increase their following. The gospel speaks of charity as a sure protection to what will come in the end. Yet how many heed this counsel? Have I been mindful of the poor lately? Do they figure in my plans this season?

February 20th

Sts. Jacinta and Francisco Marto

1st Reading: Is 55:10-11:
Thus says the Lord: Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down And do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, Giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.

Evangelio: Mt 6, 7-15:
Jesus said to his disciples: “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “This is how you are to pray: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. “If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

The Lord’s Prayer is one of the best known prayers ever. As Christians, we learn to recite it early in life. However, the words have become so familiar that we tend to pray it so mechanically and mindlessly to the point that it no longer comes from the heart. When Jesus taught his disciples this prayer, he meant it to be a personal and intimate communication from a beloved child to a loving father. Jesus teaches us that prayer is first of all a relationship between God and us, a relationship built on love and trust, more than fear.

Unless we believe in the goodness of God, we cannot pray this prayer from our hearts. In faith, we ask God to provide for our daily needs as we learn to live our life one day at a time. This serves as an antidote against our tendency to hoard supplies as insurance for future shortages, indicating a lack of trust in God’s care and protection. Prayer is incomplete if it does not end in action and change. True prayer teaches our hearts to forgive those who have hurt us, an act which requires courage and faith in God’s healing love.

February 21st

San Pedro Damián

Primera lectura: Jon 3: 1-10:
The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and announce to it the message that I will tell you.” So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh, according to the Lord’s bidding. Now Nineveh was an enormously large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began his journey through the city, and had gone but a single day’s walk announcing, “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed,” when the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth. When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in the ashes.

Then he had this proclaimed throughout Nineveh, by decree of the king and his nobles: “Neither man nor beast, neither cattle nor sheep, shall taste anything; they shall not eat, nor shall they drink water. Man and beast shall be covered with sackcloth and call loudly to God; every man shall turn from his evil way and from the violence he has in hand. Who knows, God may relent and forgive, and withhold his blazing wrath, so that we shall not perish.” When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.

Gospel: Lk 11:29-32:
While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. At the judgment the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation and she will condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here. At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.”

People normally pay attention to signs in practically every aspect of their lives, like a young woman who had been waiting for a sign whether or not to enter the convent. It seemed easier for her to wait for an external sign than to look deeply into herself with great honesty about what she really wanted to do with her life. She never got the sign she was expecting and she never made a decision until it was too late. Signs can carry different meanings and indications depending on people’s culture, personalities and backgrounds. Signs can be an object, a particular trait, or an event whose occurrence can indicate a probable happening, such as a portent of things to come.

Jesus does not dismiss the importance of signs; he simply reproaches us of having tunnel visions, looking for signs that are based only on our own expectations, thus blinding us from seeing God’s presence and from hearing God’s call to conversion. Jesus draws our attention to himself as the sign we have been waiting for, challenging us to acknowledge our own frailties and sinfulness. The real sign of conversion is a contrite heart seeking to return to God.

February 22nd

Silla de san pedro

1st Reading: 1 Pt 5:1-4:
Beloved: I exhort the presbyters among you, as a fellow presbyter and witness to the sufferings of Christ and one who has a share in the glory to be revealed. Tend the flock of God in your midst, overseeing not by constraint but willingly, as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly. Do not lord it over those assigned to you, but be examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Evangelio: Mt 16: 13-19:
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

There is a time in our life when we have to lay down our all, when we have to risk everything because we are truly convinced and we do believe. This is what had happened to Peter when he was finally asked by Jesus who he thought Jesus was. Peter had been a follower for some time. He had been part of the most beautiful memories of Jesus. And now he had to give account of his own impression of his Teacher. Peter never hesitated. He proclaimed the faith that would be taken over by the church literally founded over his place of burial. Peter risked his all. He gained big time for that risk by being the rock on which the church of Jesus would be built. Am I proud of my faith or do I take it casually to the point that I don’t make a stand when my faith is attacked. Today I will proudly wear my being a Christian and will help promote a better understanding of what I believe in my social network, in my workplace, in my community and in any place I can advance a correct appreciation of my belief.

February 23rd

San Policarpo

1st Reading: Ez 18:21-28:
Thus says the Lord God: If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed, if he keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just, he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of the crimes he committed shall be remembered against him; he shall live because of the virtue he has practiced. Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked? says the Lord God. Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way that he may live? And if the virtuous man turns from the path of virtue to do evil, the same kind of abominable things that the wicked man does, can he do this and still live?

None of his virtuous deeds shall be remembered, because he has broken faith and committed sin; because of this, he shall die. You say, “The Lord’s way is not fair!” Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair? When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die. But if the wicked, turning from the wickedness he has committed, does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life; since he has turned away from all the sins that he committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.

Evangelio: Mt 5: 20-26:
Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven. “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, Raqa, will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.

Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”

Today’s gospel focuses on reconciliation, one of the basic themes presented to us during Lent. To reconcile with someone who has hurt us or someone whom we have wronged is an overwhelming challenge for our spiritual growth. Experience tells us that even taking the first step towards reconciliation can be difficult because the deeper the ties of love are, the more painful the wounds caused by offenses are. Anger, as the gospel tells us, can cause deep hurt and can lead to sinful actions such as insults. Unchecked anger can even lead to physical and verbal abuse.

We know that the longer we nurture anger, the deeper it settles in our heart, feeding our spirit with resentment and depriving us of peace. To forgive the other is the first step towards reconciliation. Yet forgiveness is difficult because it makes us look at our selfishness, our judgments and expectations of the other, our negative reactions and to lay them aside while accepting the person as he or she is. It calls us to muster courage to approach the other in humility. Forgiveness may be hard but it is greatly fulfilling when we are able to reconcile with someone we deeply love.

February 24th

1st Reading: Dt 26:16-19:
Moses spoke to the people, saying: “This day the Lord, your God, commands you to observe these statutes and decrees. Be careful, then, to observe them with all your heart and with all your soul. Today you are making this agreement with the Lord: he is to be your God and you are to walk in his ways and observe his statutes, commandments and decrees, and to hearken to his voice. And today the Lord is making this agreement with you: you are to be a people peculiarly his own, as he promised you; and provided you keep all his commandments, he will then raise you high in praise and renown and glory above all other nations he has made, and you will be a people sacred to the Lord, your God, as he promised.”

Evangelio: Mt 5: 43-48:
Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers and sisters only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Let’s be honest. Jesus’ call in today’s gospel to love our enemies is one of the most difficult to practice. We don’t like everyone. There are people who don’t like us either. Therefore, not everyone can be our friend. This is human reality. However, liking and loving are not the same. If we are serious about living our Christian faith, then Jesus’ commandment of love is part of the equation. It is the “code of conduct” that marks our belonging to him. This is also the area where we are challenged the most and where we can easily fail as sinners. How we regard others speaks a lot about our character, our level of maturity and our faith.

Often the ones we consider our “enemies” are the people who have hurt our loved ones or us. Our tendency is to react negatively in their presence or absence; or simply avoid them so as not to be reminded of our hurts. We might not be able to love and accept them, but to love them as “enemies” from a distance is to keep the door of reconciliation open and to hope for a time of forgiveness and healing. To love them is to pray for them; or if I am not ready to pray for them, to beg God for the grace that I might desire praying for them. Jesus invites us to grow in freedom to refuse treating our “enemies” as enemies by calling us to bring our “enemies” before God in prayer with the hope that we will not remain enemies for long.