Bible Diary for June 9th – June 15th

9 de junio

10th Sunday in Ordinary Time
San Efrén

1st Reading: Gn 3:9-15:
After the man, Adam, had eaten of the tree, the Lord God called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself.” Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked? You have eaten, then, from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!” The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me— she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.” The Lord God then asked the woman, “Why did you do such a thing?” The woman answered, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.” Then the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you shall be banned from all the animals and from all the wild creatures; on your belly shall you crawl, and dirt shall you eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.”

2nd Reading: 2 Cor 4:13—5:1:
Brothers and sisters: Since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke, we too believe and therefore we 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. Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal. For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven.

Gospel: Mk 3:20-35:
Jesus came home with his disciples. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.” Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables, “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him. But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder the house.

“Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin.” For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.” His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him. A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers and your sisters are outside asking for you.” But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

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?

10 de junio

1st Reading: 1 Kgs 17:1-6:
Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab: “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, during these years there shall be no dew or rain except at my word.” The Lord then said to Elijah: “Leave here, go east and hide in the Wadi Cherith, east of the Jordan. You shall drink of the stream, and I have commanded ravens to feed you there.” So he left and did as the Lord had commanded. He went and remained by the Wadi Cherith, east of the Jordan. Ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the stream.

Evangelio: Mt 5: 1-12:
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

“There must be emptiness before there can be fullness, and so poverty of spirit precedes riches and grace in the kingdom of God.” ( Matthew’s poverty in spirit is considered in its spiritual sense as opposed to Luke’s poor in spirit in the physical sense. Jesus spoke from the mountain, a sign of authority in contrast with Luke’s account where he taught in the plain, with the people. When I put out my condo on foreclosure, I have to remove everything in it that I acquired through the years. There were things I kept for sentimental reasons, others that are less important had to be thrown away.

I was sad and hurt for leaving and emptying my condo, and throw out things. That is what emptiness is all about. It is synonymous with sadness and nothingness. Nothing is left behind when we empty ourselves of those incompatible with “poor in spirit.” The malicious thoughts, envy, violence and evil intentions must go away before one can truly be a peacemaker, blessed, satisfied, comforted and called as God’s child. The joy and fullness of God’s kingdom are for those who dare to empty themselves of anything that is contrary to the divine.

11 de junio

San Bernabé

1st Reading: Acts 11:21B-26; 13:1-3:
In those days a great number who believed turned to the Lord. The news about them reached the ears of the Church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to go to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart, for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith. And a large number of people was added to the Lord. Then he went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him he brought him to Antioch.

For a whole year they met with the Church and taught a large number of people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.Now there were in the Church at Antioch prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Symeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who was a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, completing their fasting and prayer, they laid hands on them and sent them off.

Evangelio: Mt 5: 13-16:
Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

In the ancient Near East, salt symbolized a variety of functions, shifting between opposites of blessing and a curse, destruction and restoration, protection and harm. While salt adds flavor and preserves food, it is at the same time an essential element for humans to remain healthy in a hot climate. As the food preservative par excellence, salt was used to symbolize permanence and religious purity. Salt is also an important ritual element in many religion, it is used at a child’s baptism. Ancient Palestinians homes had a single doorway and without windows, thus, lamps are very important.

Light symbolizes the realm where God dwells. Light, in opposition to darkness, connotes God’s presence (cf. evil men of darkness against Jesus, the Light, at Gethsemane). Jesus taught his hearers that to be the salt and light in his way is not of imperialistic domination and tyrannical use of power, but of meekness and humility. Light, like salt, was an important household necessity for Palestinian peasants. They couldn’t do without them. Light and salt are meant to enlighten and preserve, but there are some people who by their lives darken and corrupt others instead. Let your light shine in your little corner.

12 de junio

1st Reading: 1 Kgs 18:20-39:
Ahab sent to all the children of Israel and had the prophets assemble on Mount Carmel. Elijah appealed to all the people and said, “How long will you straddle the issue? If the Lord is God, follow him; if Baal, follow him.” The people, however, did not answer him. So Elijah said to the people, “I am the only surviving prophet of the Lord, and there are four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal. Give us two young bulls. Let them choose one, cut it into pieces, and place it on the wood, but start no fire. I shall prepare the other and place it on the wood, but shall start no fire. You shall call on your gods, and I will call on the Lord. The God who answers with fire is God.” All the people answered, “Agreed!” Elijah then said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one young bull and prepare it first, for there are more of you. Call upon your gods, but do not start the fire.”

Taking the young bull that was turned over to them, they prepared it and called on Baal from morning to noon, saying, “Answer us, Baal!” But there was no sound, and no one answering. And they hopped around the altar they had prepared. When it was noon, Elijah taunted them: “Call louder, for he is a god and may be meditating, or may have retired, or may be on a journey. Perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” They called out louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until blood gushed over them. Noon passed and they remained in a prophetic state until the time for offering sacrifice. But there was not a sound; no one answered, and no one was listening.

Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” When the people had done so, he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been destroyed. He took twelve stones, for the number of tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the Lord had said, “Your name shall be Israel.” He built an altar in honor of the Lord with the stones, and made a trench around the altar large enough for two measures of grain. When he had arranged the wood, he cut up the young bull and laid it on the wood. “Fill four jars with water,” he said, “and pour it over the burnt offering and over the wood.”

“Do it again,” he said, and they did it again. “Do it a third time,” he said, and they did it a third time. The water flowed around the altar, and the trench was filled with the water. At the time for offering sacrifice, the prophet Elijah came forward and said, “Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things by your command. Answer me, Lord! Answer me, that this people may know that you, Lord, are God and that you have brought them back to their senses.” The Lord’s fire came down and consumed the burnt offering, wood, stones, and dust, and it lapped up the water in the trench. Seeing this, all the people fell prostrate and said, “The Lord is God! The Lord is God!”

Evangelio: Mt 5: 17-19:
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”

Some Eastern countries in contrast with the West have loose and dictatorial government and the rich and powerful elite take advantage of the poor masses. People who don’t know any better in terms of the laws expect their leaders by examples and teachings to show faithful observance of rules and regulations. The rich are ostentatious in show of wealth and power. They are like resounding gongs or clanging cymbals, but useless. Instead, the lawmakers are the lawbreakers. The blind guide leading the blind followers. There are people today who disregard the law because they are beholden only to God’s law.

On the other hand, there are those who favor the government’s incursion into religious sphere. It’s a tricky tension between the “City of Man” and the “City of God.” Jesus showed how to balance this tension. Non-observance of the civil law is also a violation of God’s will. Analogously, both cities, similarly different and differently the same, serve the common good. The earthly sphere helps man to reach heaven through material things and the church aids the legitimate civil authorities in the pursuit of the common good through which heaven is served and gained.

13 de junio

San Antonio de Padua

1st Reading: 1 Kgs 18:41-46:
Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” So Ahab went up to eat and drink, while Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, crouched down to the earth, and put his head between his knees. “Climb up and look out to sea,” he directed his servant, who went up and looked, but reported, “There is nothing.” Seven times he said, “Go, look again!” And the seventh time the youth reported, “There is a cloud as small as a man’s hand rising from the sea.” Elijah said, “Go and say to Ahab, ‘Harness up and leave the mountain before the rain stops you.'” In a trice the sky grew dark with clouds and wind, and a heavy rain fell. Ahab mounted his chariot and made for Jezreel. But the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, who girded up his clothing and ran before Ahab as far as the approaches to Jezreel.

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 with him. 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.”

We tend to focus on the big stuff and conveniently forgot that it is the smaller stuff that we fail most of the time. As time goes by, these accumulated neglect becomes a fixture so as to become part of our being. Jesus warns us not to think that only those forbidden by the Law matters. Those that leads to such transgressions are what we have to safeguard ourselves the most. This is an invitation to be mindful of what we say and do. But this is what present society lacks.

The capacity to stay aware and focused on what we do. There are too many things that impact us at any given moment of our life. Thus we are not even aware of what is happening inside our heart. When such is the case, our dispersion little by little becomes a moral issue. It is not merely neglect anymore. It becomes part of our habit. Let us stop for a while and take stock of our heart. Perhaps there are many things we ought to reconcile within and without so that when we offer our gifts to the altar of the Lord, the gift comes from a peaceful heart.

14 de junio

1st Reading: 1 Kgs 19:9a, 11-16:
At the mountain of God, Horeb, Elijah came to a cave, where he took shelter. But the word of the Lord came to him, “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord will be passing by.” A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the Lord— but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake— but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire— but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, “Elijah, why are you here?”

He replied, “I have been most zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. But the children of Israel have forsaken your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to the sword. I alone am left, and they seek to take my life.” The Lord said to him, “Go, take the road back to the desert near Damascus. When you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king of Aram. Then you shall anoint Jehu, son of Nimshi, as king of Israel, and Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah, as prophet to succeed you.”

Evangelio: Mt 5: 27-32:
Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna. “It was also said, Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce. But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Sin does not start when the deed is done. It springs from a heart that entertains it and give it the space to take root and grow. That is why the gospel today points to our senses as avenues of sin. These are the entry points that knows what sensation the sin will bring and stimulates the heart to decide to commit sin and later expressed in the external forum. And so Jesus counsels us to discipline our senses, He tells us to use it properly. The plucking of eyes and the cutting of hands that offend are metaphors to drive the point. It is better to be physically diminished than to be spiritually unwhole. And so we have the responsibility to teach our senses to appreciate the world in a positive way. This needs a lot of effort. And so a strong spiritual life and mindfulness of things are a must in disciplining the senses. We need to spend time to hone our spirit, mind and heart to avoid the pitfalls of having senses that always go awry.

15 de junio

1st Reading: 1 Kgs 19:19-21:
Elijah set out, and came upon Elisha, son of Shaphat, as he was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen; he was following the twelfth. Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak over him. Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Please, let me kiss my father and mother goodbye, and I will follow you.” Elijah answered, “Go back! Have I done anything to you?” Elisha left him and, taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them; he used the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh, and gave it to his people to eat. Then he left and followed Elijah as his attendant.

Evangelio: Mt 5: 33-37:
Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow. But I say to you, do not swear at all; not by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is his footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Do not swear by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black. Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the Evil One.”

Our words should have weight because our faithfulness to our spoken words and our commitment to keep them shows others the kind of person we are. Either we can be trusted or not depending on how we keep our word. And so Jesus cautions us not make an elaborate display of oath and swearing in rituals to assure others of our trustworthiness. For on the contrary, only those whose words cannot be trusted need this kind of elaboration. And so, we need to practice to mean what we say and do what we say we should do. This needs a formation that has to go with time. You cannot have trustworthiness at once. It has to be a series of repeated acts where we affirm the trust of others to our words. In short, there are trusts that are earned through time. May we cultivate this wonderful virtue and be like Jesus Christ who is trustworthy in words and deeds.