Bible Diary for July 23rd – July 29th
23 de julio
16º domingo del tiempo ordinario
Santa Brígida de Suecia
1st Reading: Wis 12:13, 16-19:
There is no god besides you who have the care of all, that you need show you have not unjustly condemned. For your might is the source of justice; your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all. For you show your might when the perfection of your power is disbelieved; and in those who know you, you rebuke temerity. But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us; for power, whenever you will, attends you. And you taught your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind; and you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins.
2nd Reading: Rom 8:26-27:
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.
Gospel: Mt 13:24-43:
Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘”
He proposed another parable to them. “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.'” He spoke to them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.” All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. He spoke to them only in parables, to fulfill what had been said through the prophet: I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world. Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house.
His disciples approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
The good and the bad, the sacred and the profane tend to live side by side. It is as if they could not exist without the other. The more renowned the place as a center of holiness, the more commercialism and consumerism is attracted around it giving rise to many commercial pursuits in support of the holy activities going on. It is thus with a certain dose of realism that Jesus told the parable of the good sower whose work is sabotaged by the enemy who sowed weeds among the wheat. It happens in the real world that we live in. It is present in the hearts of each and every one of us.
In this regard Jesus counsels patience and allows the process of the wheat and the weeds to finish. It is only during harvest time that the two could be safely separated. We too should have the patience to live in a world of contrasts. Meanwhile let us strive to make our wheat outgrow our weeds within. How do I behave amidst the differences that I have with others? Do I fit in or do I insist on doing things my own way by removing their uniqueness and individuality and insisting that they be a clone of me? Today, I will try to integrate myself amidst the diversity that I find in my environment. I will allow them to grow with me and let time teach us to pull the weeds of differences that hinder our friendship instead.
24 de julio
St. Sharbel Makhlúf
Primera lectura: Ex 14: 5-18:
When it was reported to the king of Egypt that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his servants changed their minds about them. They exclaimed, “What have we done! Why, we have released Israel from our service!” So Pharaoh made his chariots ready and mustered his soldiers— six hundred first-class chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt, with warriors on them all. So obstinate had the Lord made Pharaoh that he pursued the children of Israel even while they were marching away in triumph. The Egyptians, then, pursued them; Pharaoh’s whole army, his horses, chariots and charioteers, caught up with them as they lay encamped by the sea, at Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.
Pharaoh was already near when the children of Israel looked up and saw that the Egyptians were on the march in pursuit of them. In great fright they cried out to the Lord. And they complained to Moses, “Were there no burial places in Egypt that you had to bring us out here to die in the desert? Why did you do this to us? Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Did we not tell you this in Egypt, when we said, ‘Leave us alone. Let us serve the Egyptians’? Far better for us to be the slaves of the Egyptians than to die in the desert.” But Moses answered the people, “Fear not! Stand your ground, and you will see the victory the Lord will win for you today. These Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again. The Lord himself will fight for you; you have only to keep still.”
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. And you, lift up your staff and, with hand outstretched over the sea, split the sea in two, that the children of Israel may pass through it on dry land. But I will make the Egyptians so obstinate that they will go in after them. Then I will receive glory through Pharaoh and all his army, his chariots and charioteers. The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I receive glory through Pharaoh and his chariots and charioteers.”
Gospel: Mt 12:38-42:
Some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” He said to them in reply, “An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and there is something greater than Jonah here. At the judgment the queen of the south will arise with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here.”
Signs are confirmatory by nature. We ask them from time to time to assure ourselves that we are on the right track. Some teachers of the Law and Pharisees asked the Lord for a sign. Perhaps they want to rest their doubts and be sure of their decisions before committing themselves to the Lord. Perhaps they just want to trap Him and disregard any signs He may make since their minds were set on a negative course of action. Whatever their frame of mind, Jesus was vexed with them. He had been performing countless signs of miracles and wonders in front of them for a period of time already. If it did not convince them, one more would not make a dent on their unbelief.
25 de julio
Primera lectura: 2 Cor 4, 7-15:
Brothers and sisters: We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke, we too believe and therefore speak, knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence. Everything indeed is for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.
Evangelio: Mt 20: 20-28:
The mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. He said to her, “What do you wish?” She answered him, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your Kingdom.” Jesus said in reply, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” They said to him, “We can.”
He replied, “My chalice you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” When the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus summoned them and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Great powers entail great responsibilities. That’s why one has to be ready to wield power responsibly. James and John desire power with Jesus. It is a legitimate desire. Jesus Himself did not rebuke them. However there are conditions in obtaining such power. Although the brothers believed that they could fulfill the requirements, still Jesus told them that it was not He but the Father who appointed. They just had to be ready. The ten got angry at such audacity but it is more because the brothers acted faster than them. They too had the same desire. Jesus is not yet finished with them. He will have a long way to go in purifying the intentions of His disciples.
26 de julio
Primera lectura: Ex 16: 1-5, 9-15:
The children of Israel set out from Elim, and came into the desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from the land of Egypt. Here in the desert the whole assembly of the children of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The children of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died at the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread! But you had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine!” Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will now rain down bread from heaven for you. Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion; thus will I test them, to see whether they follow my instructions or not. On the sixth day, however, when they prepare what they bring in, let it be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”
Then Moses said to Aaron, “Tell the whole congregation of the children of Israel: Present yourselves before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.” When Aaron announced this to the whole assembly of the children of Israel, they turned toward the desert, and lo, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud! The Lord spoke to Moses and said, “I have heard the grumbling of the children of Israel. Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread, so that you may know that I, the Lord, am your God.” In the evening quail came up and covered the camp. In the morning a dew lay all about the camp, and when the dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert were fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground. On seeing it, the children of Israel asked one another, “What is this?” for they did not know what it was. But Moses told them, “This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.”
Evangelio: Mt 13: 1-9:
On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
God’s Word will bear fruit, in season and out of season. We, along with the entire creation, must trust in God’s promises of redemption and new life, which will be given in the fullness of time. Jesus gives the parable of the sower who reaps thirty, sixty, and hundredfold. If God’s word never returns without realizing its purpose and produces in unimaginable quantities of thirties, sixties, and hundreds, why does it seemingly fail on the path and the rock and amidst the thistle? Perhaps what is needed is our cooperation with the Grace that is poured into us. Perhaps the seeds are still there waiting to sprout, but for our generous consent and cooperation. What might be preventing us from a total surrender to the word? Let us pray for the grace of complete surrender to God’s will.
27 de julio
1st Reading: Ex 19:1-2, 9-11, 16-20b:
In the third month after their departure from the land of Egypt, on its first day, the children of Israel came to the desert of Sinai. After the journey from Rephidim to the desert of Sinai, they pitched camp. While Israel was encamped here in front of the mountain, the Lord told Moses, “I am coming to you in a dense cloud, so that when the people hear me speaking with you, they may always have faith in you also.” When Moses, then, had reported to the Lord the response of the people, the Lord added, “Go to the people and have them sanctify themselves today and tomorrow. Make them wash their garments and be ready for the third day; for on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai before the eyes of all the people.”
On the morning of the third day there were peals of thunder and lightning, and a heavy cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. But Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stationed themselves at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was all wrapped in smoke, for the Lord came down upon it in fire. The smoke rose from it as though from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. The trumpet blast grew louder and louder, while Moses was speaking and God answering him with thunder. When the Lord came down to the top of Mount Sinai, he summoned Moses to the top of the mountain.
Gospel: Mt 13:10-17:
The disciples approached Jesus and said, “Why do you speak to the crowd in parables?” He said to them in reply, “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.
“Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and be converted and I heal them. “But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”
The Kingdom of God is revealed in parables. It is not accessible to eyes and ears that cannot leave behind the usual and literal. It is a language that is finer than our coarse, obvious and ordinary human discourse. That is why faith is a condition to savor its wealth of meanings. Faith opens our eyes to the wonders of God’s love revealed to us in symbolic discourse. What was once arcane and incomprehensible becomes accessible to our human understanding. Perhaps it cannot be helped. The Kingdom is a divine reality that human words heave and groan to contain its meaning.
28 de julio
Primera lectura: Ex 20: 1-17:
In those days: God delivered all these commandments: “I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them. For I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their fathers’ wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.
“You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain. For the Lord will not leave unpunished him who takes his name in vain. Remember to keep holy the sabbath day. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord, your God. No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter, or your male or female slave, or your beast, or by the alien who lives with you. In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
“Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you. You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass, nor anything else that belongs to him.”
Evangelio: Mt 13: 18-23:
Jesus said to his disciples: “Hear the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the Kingdom without understanding it, and the Evil One comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away. The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”
No amount of physical suffering can ruin life unless we allow it to do so. But loss of faith in dark times, the refusal to trust that God is with us in it, can sour the soul and crush our spirit.
29 de julio
Primera lectura: Ex 24: 3-8:
When Moses came to the people and related all the words and ordinances of the Lord, they all answered with one voice, “We will do everything that the Lord has told us.” Moses then wrote down all the words of the Lord and, rising early the next day, he erected at the foot of the mountain an altar and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. Then, having sent certain young men of the children of Israel to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice young bulls as peace offerings to the Lord, Moses took half of the blood and put it in large bowls; the other half he splashed on the altar. Taking the book of the covenant, he read it aloud to the people, who answered, “All that the Lord has said, we will heed and do.” Then he took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words of his.”
Evangelio: Jn 11: 19-27:
Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother [Lazarus, who had died]. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”
Today’s Gospel text is one which we can easily relate with. It resonates well with our experiences especially when we are in great pain or in deep sorrow. When something bad happens or when a tragedy befalls us, like Martha we are often led to say, “Lord, if you had been here… this would not have happened.” When she said that, Martha was not being resentful and was putting the blame on the Lord for Lazarus’ death. Nor was she trying to make Jesus feel guilty for his apparent insensitivity or lack of concern. It actually expresses her faith and trust in Jesus and his power over death.
That is why later on she was able to proclaim, “Yes, Lord, I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God…“ Do we have a faith as strong as Martha’s so that even amidst tragedy or in suffering we can still hold on to God, putting our trust in Him? Martha’s friendship with Jesus has brought about growth in her faith. Hospitably welcoming him and his disciples into her home and providing some of their needs as they went about ministering to people helped her come to know the Lord better. Welcoming others into our homes and lives will enable us to see Jesus better, and grow in our faith and relationship with Him.