Bible Diary for January 17th – 23rd

January 17th

2do domingo en tiempo ordinario
St. Anthony the Great

1st Reading: 1 Sm 3:3b-10, 19:
Samuel lay in the house of Yahweh near the ark of God. Then Yahweh called, “Samuel! Samuel!” Samuel answered, “I am here!” and ran to Eli saying, “I am here, did you not call me?” But Eli said, “I did not call, go back to sleep.” So he went and lay down. Then Yahweh called again, “Samuel!” and Samuel stood up and went to Eli saying, “You called me; I am here.” But Eli answered, “I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep.” Samuel did not yet know Yahweh and the word of Yahweh had not yet been revealed to him.

But Yahweh called Samuel for the third time and, as he went again to Eli saying, “I am here for you have called me,” Eli realized that it was Yahweh calling the boy. So he said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you again, answer: “Speak, Yahweh, your servant listens.” Then Yahweh came and stood there calling as he did before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant listens.” Samuel grew; Yahweh was with him and made all his words become true.

2nd Reading: 1 Cor 6:13c–15, 17–20:
The body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord is for the body. And God, who raised the Lord, will also raise us with his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? And you would make that part of his body become a part of a prostitute? Never! On the contrary, anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Avoid unlawful sex entirely. Any other sin a person commits is outside the body but those who commit sexual immorality sin against their own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, given by God? You belong no longer to yourselves. Remember at what price you have been bought and make your body serve the glory of God.

Gospel: Jn 1:35–42:
On the following day John was standing there again with two of his disciples. As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and said, “There is the Lamb of God.” On hearing this, the two disciples followed Jesus. He turned and saw them following, and he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They answered, “Rabbi (which means Master), where are you staying?” Jesus said, “Come and see.” So they went and saw where he stayed and spent the rest of that day with him.

It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard what John had said and followed Jesus. Early the next morning he found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means the Christ), and he brought Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon, son of John, but you shall be called Cephas” (which means Rock).

How do we follow Jesus? If we have to be true followers of Jesus we have to know him, spend time with him and share about him with as the disciples did. Do I really know Jesus? Do I spend time with Jesus? Do I share Jesus with others? Loving Father, you give us your only begotten Son to show to us the way towards your eternal kingdom. Inspire us to know him better as we read the Bible and as we spend time in nurturing our relationship with one another, sharing the talents and abilities you have given to us for your greater glory and our salvation. Amen. Find time to regularly read the Bible and spend time praying and learning with Jesus in your daily experiences and in your study of the Sacred Scriptures.

January 18th

1st Reading: Heb 5:1–10:
Every High Priest is taken from among mortals and appointed to be their representative before God to offer gifts and sacrifices for sin. He is able to understand the ignorant and erring for he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he is bound to offer sacrifices for his sins as well as for the sins of the people. Besides, one does not presume to take this dignity, but takes it only when called by God, as Aaron was. Nor did Christ become High Priest in taking upon himself this dignity, but it was given to him by the One who says: You are my son, I have begotten you today.

And in another place: You are a priest forever in the priestly order of Melchizedek. Christ, in the days of his mortal life, offered his sacrifice with tears and cries. He prayed to him who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his humble submission. Although he was Son, he learned through suffering what obedience was, and once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for those who obey him. This is how God proclaimed him Priest in the order of Melchizedek.

Gospel: Mk 2:18–22:
One day, when the Pharisees and the disciples of John the Baptist were fasting, some people asked Jesus, “Why is it that both the Pharisees and the disciples of John fast, but yours do not?” Jesus answered, “How can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.

But the day will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast. No one sews a piece of new cloth on an old coat, because the new patch will shrink and tear away from the old cloth, making a worse tear. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins, for the wine would burst the skins, and then both the wine and the skins would be lost. But new wine, new skins!”

The Gospel invites us to reflect on three images that illustrate the good news that Jesus offers. These are (1) bridegroom and wedding guests, (2) old garment and new patch, and (3) old wineskins and new wine. The common thread that connects these images is that of newness and joy. At a wedding the cause of joy is not the food or the guests. It is the happy couple embarking on a new life together. Everyone present share in the joy of the new couple. The Gospel uses the image of a wedding to symbolize the good news that Jesus brings, a promise of life in abundance.

Joy is the natural response to such good news. The new dispensation of God’s reign that Jesus inaugurates challenges our old ways of thinking and living, which at times can tend to be legalistic, close-minded, and rigid. These tendencies do not fit the new way of life and relating that Jesus presents to us, like a new patch on an old garment or new wine on old wineskins. Rigidity and close-mindedness can kill the joy that the Gospel brings and stunt the growth of our spiritual life.

January 19th

1st Reading: Heb 6:10–20:
God is not unjust and will not forget everything you have done for love of his name; you have helped and still help the believers. We desire each of you to have, until the end, the same zeal for reaching what you have hoped for. Do not grow careless but imitate those who, by their faith and determination, inherit the promise. Remember God’s promise to Abraham. God wanted to confirm it with an oath and, as no one is higher than God, he swore by himself: I shall bless you and give you many descendants. By just patiently waiting, Abraham obtained the promise.

People are used to swearing by someone higher than themselves and their oath affirms everything that could be denied. So God committed himself with an oath in order to convince those who were to wait for his promise that he would never change his mind. Thus we have two certainties in which it is impossible that God be proved false: promise and oath. That is enough to encourage us strongly when we leave everything to hold to the hope set before us. This hope is like a steadfast anchor of the soul, secure and firm, thrust beyond the curtain of the Temple into the Sanctuary itself, where Jesus has entered ahead of us—Jesus, High Priest for ever in the order of Melchizedek.

Gospel: Mk 2:23–28:
One Sabbath he was walking through grainfields. As his disciples walked along with him, they began to pick the heads of grain and crush them in their hands. Then the Pharisees said to Jesus, “Look! They are doing what is forbidden on the Sabbath!” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did in his time of need, when he and his men were very hungry? He went into the House of God, when Abiathar was High Priest, and ate the bread of offering, which only the priests are allowed to eat, and he also gave some to the men who were with him.” Then Jesus said to them, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is master even of the Sabbath.”

Two issues are being highlighted by the Gospel: hunger and rest. Throughout Scripture, God offers abundance and an end to hunger. Jesus addresses this issue of hunger in connection with the Pharisees’ pervading attitude towards the Sabbath. They only saw one dimension in the incident at the grain fields—the strict observance of the Sabbath law, which was turning the day of rest, as originally intended by God, into a day of spiritual bondage. They did not see that hunger is a reality that needs addressing. Rest and freedom from bondage are synonymous to shalom—a state of wholeness and flourishing in every dimension of life.

Today we see the interconnection of hunger and rest in many situations of impoverishment where people are held in servitude, being denied adequate food and rest. Many poor people deny themselves rest so that they can scour for food to feed their hunger. When God rested on the seventh day of creation, his rest was not one of inactivity or of indifference. God continues to be engaged in the work of providence. We are thus invited to participate in this work so that the hungers of the world may be alleviated.

January 20th

San Fabián
San Sebastián

1st Reading: Heb 7:1–3, 15–17:
Scripture says that Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, came out to meet Abraham who returned from defeating the kings. He blessed Abraham and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. Let us note that the name Melchizedek means King of Justice, and that king of Salem means king of Peace. There is no mention of father, mother or genealogy; nothing is said about the beginning or the end of his life. In this he is the figure of the Son of God, the priest who remains forever. All this, however, becomes clear if this priest after the likeness of Melchizedek has in fact received his mission, not on the basis of any human law, but by the power of an immortal life. Because Scripture says: You are a priest forever in the priestly order of Melchizedek.

Gospel: Mk 3:1–6:
Again, Jesus entered the synagogue. A man, who had a paralyzed hand, was there and some people watched Jesus: would he heal the man on the sabbath? If he did, they could accuse him. Jesus said to the man with the paralyzed hand, “Stand here in the center.” Then he asked them, “What does the Law allow us to do on the Sabbath? To do good or to do harm? To save life or to kill?” But they were silent. Then Jesus looked around at them with anger and deep sadness, because they had closed their minds. And he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was healed. As soon as the Pharisees left, they met with Herod’s supporters, looking for a way to destroy Jesus.

Jesus uses the occasion of his healing the man with a withered hand on a Sabbath to demonstrate his uncompromising commitment to love, compassion and truth against the legalism and close-mindedness of the Pharisees. Being hard hearted and close-minded are not new to humanity. These tendencies attack us when we hold on to something external, such as the Law, as our source of security. These tendencies can lead us to obsess over little things or ideas that do not fit our usual way of thinking and doing.

Jesus’ healing on a Sabbath was to the Pharisees something out of place and against their understanding of the Law. The controversy evokes intense feelings and dark motives. Jesus was filled with “anger and deep sadness,” while the Pharisees were plotting “to destroy Jesus.” Hard hearts produce hard thoughts. We see this in the political arena today: the inability to listen and respect the opposing side and the tendency to malign the reputation of the rival. The same is true in the religious sphere. We can be intolerant of those who think and believe differently from us. Jesus invites us to be open-minded and see the good even in tense filled and unexpected situations.

January 21st

Santa Inés

1st Reading: Heb 7:25—8:6:
Consequently he is able to save for all time those who approach God through him. He always lives to intercede on their behalf. It was fitting that our High Priest be holy, undefiled, set apart from sinners and exalted above the heavens; a priest who does not first need to offer sacrifice for himself before offering for the sins of the people, as high priests do. He offered himself in sacrifice once and for all. And whereas the Law elected weak men as high priests, now, after the Law, the word of God with an oath appointed the Son, made perfect forever.

The main point of what we are saying is that we have a high priest. He is seated at the right hand of the divine majesty in heaven, where he serves as minister of the true temple and Sanctuary, set up not by any mortal but by the Lord. A high priest is appointed to offer to God gifts and sacrifices, and Jesus also has to offer some sacrifice. Had he remained on earth, he would not be a priest, since others offer the gifts according to the Law.

In fact, the ritual celebrated by those priests is only an imitation and shadow of the heavenly Sanctuary. We know the word of God to Moses with regard to the construction of the holy tent. He said: You are to make everything according to the pattern shown to you on the mountain. Now, however, Jesus enjoys a much higher ministry in being the mediator of a better Covenant, founded on better promises.

Gospel: Mk 3:7–12:
Jesus and his disciples withdrew to the lakeside, and a large crowd from Galilee followed him. A great number of people also came from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, Transjordan, and from the region of Tyre and Sidon, for they had heard of all that he was doing. Because of the crowd, Jesus told his disciples to have a boat ready for him, to prevent the people from crushing him. He healed so many, that all who had diseases kept pressing towards him to touch him. Even the people who had evil spirits, whenever they saw him, they would fall down before him and cry out, “You are the Son of God.” But he warned them sternly not to tell anyone who he was.

Social sciences have been studying crowd behavior to understand the dynamics when individuals become part of a crowd. They can be swept in the emotion of the moment and lose their individual voice and identity. For instance, we read of fanatic crowds stampeding and trampling people at sports events, or angry crowds destroying property and killing people. Crowds can be exhilarated one moment and ferocious the next. Crowds can be unpredictable and easily manipulated by a few powerful voices. During Jesus’ public ministry, he was dogged by different kinds of crowd; most of them were needy, hungry, and sick.

Others followed him because they were attracted to him and his teachings. Yet, there were others who were perhaps mere thrill-seekers, curious to see another miracle. As his popularity skyrocketed and spread throughout the neighboring provinces, there was no end in sight to crowds milling around him. Jesus knew what happens to individuals when absorbed in a crowd. He took precautions not only for his own wellbeing but perhaps also to give people some space to be aware of why they were following him. If we were to put ourselves in one of these crowds today, why would we be following him?

January 22nd

1st Reading: Heb 8:6–13:
Now, however, Jesus enjoys a much higher ministry in being the mediator of a better Covenant, founded on better promises. If all had been perfect in the first Covenant, there would have been no need for another one. Yet God sees defects when he says: The days are coming—it is the word of the Lord—when I will draw up a new Covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the Covenant that I made with their ancestors on the day I took them by the hand and led them out of Egypt. They did not keep my Covenant, and so I myself have forsaken them, says the Lord.

But this is the Covenant that I will make with the people of Israel in the days to come: I will put my laws into their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people. None of them will have to teach one another or say to each other: Know the Lord, for they will know me from the least to the greatest. I will forgive their sins and no longer remember their wrongs. Here we are being told of a new Covenant; which means that the first one had become obsolete, and what is obsolete and aging is soon to disappear.

Gospel: Mk 3:13–19:
Then Jesus went up into the hill country, and called those he wanted, and they came to him. He  appointed Twelve to be with him, and he called them ‘apostles’. He wanted to send them out to preach, and he gave them authority to drive out demons. These are the Twelve: Simon, to whom he gave the name Peter; James, son of Zebedee, and John his brother, to whom he gave the name Boanerges, which means ‘men of thunder’; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alpheus, Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

Discipleship is at the heart of being a Christian. It means being someone who learns from Jesus, learning to be like him in every way in the context of one’s specific vocation in life. The disciple is one who hears the call of Jesus to follow him. The idea of a call or vocation is central to the Christian belief that God has created each person with gifts oriented toward specific purposes and lifestyle. It has been associated with a divine call to serve the Church and humanity through particular vocational life commitments such as marriage, consecration as a religious, ordination to priestly ministry, and dedication to the mission as a layperson.

 Every Christian is called to give witness to Christ in one’s professional and family life, as well as in one’s church and civic commitments, using one’s gifts for the sake of the greater common good. In today’s Gospel, Jesus appointed a small group of disciples whom he designated as apostles for a specific purpose: to be sent as his messengers and to share in his mission and way of life. Each moment of every day, Jesus never tires of calling us, but are we listening?

January 23rd

San Vicente
San Ildefones
St. Marianne Cope
Santa Emerentiana

1st Reading: Heb 9:2–3, 11–14:
A first tent was prepared with the lampstand, the table and the bread of the presence, this is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain, there is a second Sanctuary called the Most Holy Place. But, now, Christ has appeared as the high priest with regard to the good things of these new times. He passed through a Sanctuary more noble and perfect, not made by hands, that is, not created.

He did not take with himself the blood of goats and bulls but his own blood, when he entered once and for all into this Sanctuary after obtaining definitive redemption. If the sprinkling of people defiled by sin with the blood of goats and bulls or with the ashes of a heifer provides them with exterior cleanness and holiness, how much more will it be with the blood of Christ? He, moved by the eternal Spirit, offered himself as an unblemished victim to God and his blood cleanses us from dead works, so that we may serve the living God.

Gospel: Mk 3:20-21:
They went home. The crowd began to gather again and they couldn’t even have a meal. Knowing what was happening, his relatives came to take charge of him. “He is out of his mind,” they said.

A distraught mother sought help for her adult daughter who, she perceived, was going “out of her mind.” She described her daughter as someone who used to be good and “obedient.” But when the daughter returned from her studies abroad, she was a totally different person. She had become noncompliant with the unwritten family rules, and passionate about her beliefs, some of which were shocking. This got everyone in the family worried. Perhaps the relatives of Jesus reacted in a similar manner. What made them think that Jesus was “out of his mind?”

They had heard about him breaking the Sabbath law and about demons recognizing him, calling him God’s Son. They were also disturbed that his ministry was depriving him of food and rest. Such deprivations are known to have ill effects on someone’s behavior. They did not seem to understand what made him change so drastically and wanted to protect him from further damage. When radical changes happen to a person, family members can sometimes be the last ones to understand. Following Jesus calls us to change profoundly in our attitudes and behavior. Are we willing to undergo this radical change in following God’s call?