Bible Diary for November 15th – 21st

November 15th

33º domingo de tiempo ordinario
San Alberto el Grande

1st Reading: Pro 31:10–13, 19–20, 30–31:
The woman of character, where is she to be found? She is more precious than any jewel. Her husband has complete confidence in her; she will be of great benefit to him. She brings him only good and not evil, all the days of her life. She has obtained wool and flax, and works them with skillful hands. She puts her hand to the distaff and her fingers hold the spindle. She reaches out her hand to the helpless and gives to the poor. Charm is deceptive and beauty useless; the woman who is wise is the one to praise. May she enjoy the fruits of her labor and may all praise her for her works.

2nd Reading: 1 Thes 5:1–6:
You do not need anyone to write to you about the delay, and the appointed time for these events. You know, that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When people feel secure, and at peace, the disaster will suddenly come upon them, as the birth pangs of a woman in labor, and they will not escape. But you, beloved, are not in darkness; so that day will not surprise you like a thief. All of you are citizens of the light and the day; we do not belong to night and darkness. Let us not, therefore, sleep as others do, but remain alert and sober.

Gospel: Mt 25:14–30:
“Imagine someone who, before going abroad, summoned his servants to entrust his property to them. He gave five talents of silver to one servant, two talents to another servant, and one talent to a third, to each, according to his ability; and he went away. He who received five talents went at once to do business with the talents, and gained another five. The one who received two talents did the same, and gained another two. But the one who received one talent dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master’s money. After a long time, the master of those servants returned and asked for a reckoning.”

“The one who had received five talents came with another five talents, saying, ‘Lord, you entrusted me with five talents, but see, I have gained five more.’ The master answered, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, since you have been faithful in a few things, I will entrust you in charge of many things. Come and share the joy of your master.’ Then the one who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you entrusted me with two talents; with them I have gained two more.’ The master said, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, since you have been faithful in little things, I will entrust you in charge of many things. Come and share the joy of your master.’”

“Finally, the one who had received one talent came and said, ‘Master, I know that you are a hard man. You reap what you have not sown, and gather what you have not scattered. I was afraid, so I hid your money in the ground. Here, take what is yours!’ But his master replied, ‘Wicked and worthless servant, you know that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered. You should have deposited my money in the bank, and given it back to me with interest on my return. Therefore, take the talent from him, and give it to the one who has ten. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who are unproductive, even what they have will be taken from them. As for that useless servant, throw him out into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”

Fear is the number one enemy of fruitfulness. This is shown in the parable of the gospel today. The one who received one talent from the Master focused so much on his fear that he overlooked the fact that the Master trusted him with just the right amount fitted for his talents and capacities. He was not able to gain momentum from this implied trust. He was blinded by his fear.

Because of this, he condemned himself forever to an ordinary and uneventful life. He wanted to play safe. Nobody who doesn’t risk will ever amount to something in this lifetime. What talents do I possess that still stand idle? Today is a good day to make an inventory of my strengths and make a plan how to harness and develop them effectively for the benefit of the greater community.

November 16th

Santa Margarita de Escocia
Santa Gertrudis

1st Reading: Rev 1:1–4; 2:1–5:
The Revelation of Jesus Christ. God gave it to him, to let his servants know what is soon to take place. He sent his angel to make it known to his servant, John, who reports everything he saw, for this is the word of God, and the declaration of Jesus Christ. Happy is the one who reads aloud these prophetic words, and happy those who hear them, and treasure everything written here, for the time is near.

From John, to the seven churches of Asia: receive grace and peace from him who is, who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits of God, which are before his throne, write this, to the angel of the church in Ephesus, “Thus says the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, and who walks among the seven golden lamp stands: I know your works, your difficulties and your patient suffering.

I know, you cannot tolerate evildoers, but have tested those who call themselves apostles, and have proved them to be liars. You have persevered, and have suffered for my name without losing heart. Nevertheless, I have this complaint against you: you have lost your first love. Remember from where you have fallen, and repent, and do what you used to do before. If not, I will come to you, and remove your lamp stand from its place; this, I will do, unless you repent.

Gospel: Lk 18:35–43:
When Jesus drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road, begging. As he heard the crowd passing by, he inquired what was happening, and they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was going by. Then he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” The people in front of him scolded him. “Be quiet!” they said, but he cried out all the more, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped, and ordered the blind man to be brought to him; and when he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the man said, “Lord, that I may see!” Jesus said, “Receive your sight, your faith has saved you.” At once the blind man was able to see, and he followed Jesus, giving praise to God. And all the people who were there also praised God.

There are subtle barriers towards wholeness and healing. This is demonstrated in today’s gospel wherein the blind man desiring to see, called on Jesus but was silenced by the people around him. It is rude and disrespectful to call on the Teacher in such a loud voice. Besides, what does He have to do with a blind man?

So this sense of decorum which at first glance seemed appropriate is actually now a structure that hinders a blind man towards wholeness. But Jesus is famous for breaking conventions. He is not jealous with His dignity as to allow a loud pleading to deter Him from doing good. And so, the seemingly crass and rude blind man got his sight back simply because he did not allow human conventions to get in the way of his healing.

November 17th

Santa Isabel de Hungría

1st Reading: Rev 3:1–6, 14–22:
Write this, to the angel of the church in Sardis, “Thus says he, who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars: I know your worth: you think you live, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen that which is not already dead. For I have found your works to be imperfect in the sight of my God. Remember what you were taught; keep it, and change your ways. If you do not repent, I will come upon you, like a thief, at an hour you least expect.”

“Yet, there are some left in Sardis who have not soiled their robes; these will come with me, dressed in white, since they deserve it. The victor will be dressed in white, and I will never erase his name from the book of life; instead, I will acknowledge it before my Father and his angels. Let anyone who has ears, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Write this, to the angel of the church in Laodicea, “Thus says the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation: I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would, that, you were cold or hot! You are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold; so I will spit you out of my mouth. You think you are rich, and have piled up so much, that you need nothing, but you do not realize, that you are wretched, and to be pitied; poor, blind and naked.”

“I advise you, to buy from me gold, that has been tested by fire, so that you may be rich, and white clothes to wear, so that your nakedness may not shame you; and ointment for your eyes, that you may see. I reprimand and correct all those I love. Be earnest, and change your ways. Look, I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my call, and open the door, I will come in to you, and have supper with you, and you, with me. I will let the victor sit with me, on my throne, just as I was victorious, and took my place with my Father, on his throne. Let anyone who has ears, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Gospel: Lk 19:1–10:
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man named Zaccheus lived there. He was a tax collector and a wealthy man. He wanted to see what Jesus was like, but he was a short man and could not see him because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree. From there he would be able to see Jesus, who was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, come down quickly, for I must stay at your house today.”

So Zaccheus climbed down and received him joyfully. All the people who saw it began to grumble, and said, “He has gone as a guest to the house of a sinner.” But Zaccheus spoke to Jesus, “Half of what I own, Lord, I will give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay him back four times as much.” Looking at him Jesus said, “Salvation has come to this house today, for he is also a true son of Abraham. The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”

We also feel like Zaccheus from time to time. We so badly want to see the Lord but the crowd of life’s pressures and challenges prevents us from seeing Him. Our work, problem and other concerns form a barrier that hides Jesus from us. What shall we do with this obstacle? Let us imitate Zaccheus who climbed the sycamore tree. We too must climb our own tree of prayer and good works. And there from the vantage point of our spirituality, we will see that Jesus is in the midst of all our troubles and problems. He has never left our side. We can go on with our life secure that we are never alone even if we don’t see Him from time to time.

November 18th

Santa Rosa filipina Duchesne
Dedicación de las basílicas de los apóstoles Pedro y Pablo

1st Reading: Rev 4:1–11:
After this, I looked up, to the wall of the sky, and saw an open door. The voice which I had first heard speaking to me, like a trumpet, said, “Come up here and I will show you what will come in the future.” Immediately, I was seized by the spirit. There, in heaven, was a throne, and one sitting on it. He who sat there, looked like jasper and carnelian, and round the throne, was a rainbow, resembling an emerald.”

“In a circle, around the throne, are twenty-four thrones, and seated on these, are twenty-four elders, dressed in white clothes, with golden crowns on their heads. Flashes of lightning come forth from the throne, with voices and thunderclaps. Seven flaming torches burn before the throne; these are the seven spirits of God. Before the throne, there is a platform, transparent, like crystal.”

“Around and beside the throne, stand four living creatures, full of eyes, both in front and behind. The first living creature is like a lion, the second, like a bull; the third has the face of a man, and the fourth looks like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures has six wings, full of eyes, all around as well as within; day and night, they sing without ceasing, holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, master of the universe, who was, and is, and is to come.”

“Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to the one on the throne, he who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him, and worship the one who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns in front of the throne and say, our Lord and God, worthy are you to receive glory, honor and power! For you have created all things; by your will they came to be and were made.

Gospel: Lk 19:11–28:
Jesus was now near Jerusalem, and the people with him thought that God’s reign was about to appear. So as they were listening to him, Jesus went on to tell them a parable. He said, “A man of noble birth went to a distant country in order to be crowned king, after which he planned to return home. Before he left, he summoned ten of his servants and gave them ten pounds of silver. He said, ‘Put this money to work until I get back.’ But his compatriots, who disliked him, sent a delegation after him with this message, ‘We do not want this man to be our king.’ He returned, however, appointed as king. At once he sent for the servants, to whom he had given the money, to find out what profit each had made.

“The first came in, and reported, ‘Sir, your pound of silver has earned ten more pounds of silver.’ The master replied, ‘Well done, my good servant! Since you have proved yourself faithful in a small matter, I can trust you to take charge of ten cities.’ The second reported, ‘Sir, your pound of silver earned five more pounds of silver.’ The master replied, ‘And you, take charge of five cities!’ The third came in, and said, ‘Sir, here is your money, which I hid for safekeeping. I was afraid of you, for you are an exacting person: you take up what you did not lay down, and you reap what you did not sow.’ The master replied, ‘You worthless servant, I will judge you by your own words! So you knew I was an exacting person, taking up what I did not lay down, and reaping what I did not sow? Why, then, did you not put my money on loan, so that, when I got back, I could have collected it with interest?’

“Then the master said to those standing by, ‘Take from him that pound, and give it to the one with ten pounds.’ But they objected, ‘Sir, he already has ten pounds!’ The master replied, ‘I tell you, everyone who has will be given more; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for my enemies who did not want me to be their king, bring them in, and execute them right here in front me!’” So Jesus spoke, and then he passed on ahead of them, on his way to Jerusalem.

Each of us has our own gifts and capacities. These endowments are part of our patrimony given by God. Although these gifts come in varying degrees still it is not whether we have more or less that matters but whether we have used these talents and abilities to the best it could be. There is no point in comparison. Others may look at it in terms of the monetary and status value such talents could bring.

This is a very elementary assessment of God’s gifts the self-fulfillment and the knowledge that we have attained the best that we could ever be is the true measurement of having utilized God’s gift wisely. Getting envious of another’s achievement is a disservice to our loving and giving God. Not using it and keeping it for oneself likewise is another one.

November 19th

1st Reading: Rev 5:1–10:
Then, I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne, a scroll, written on both sides, sealed with seven seals. A mighty angel exclaimed, in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open this and break the seals?” But no one in heaven or on earth, or in the netherworld, was found able to open the book and read it. I wept much, when I saw that no one was found worthy to open the book and read it. Then, one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Look, the lion of the tribe of Judah, the shoot of David, has conquered; he will open the book of the seven seals.”

And I saw next to the throne, with its four living creatures, and the twenty-four elders, a Lamb, standing, although it had been slain. I saw him with seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God, sent out to all the earth. The Lamb moved forward, and took the book from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. When he took it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders bowed before the Lamb.

They all held in their hands, harps, and golden cups full of incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones. This is the new song they sang: You are worthy to take the book and open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood, you purchased, for God, people, of every race, language and nation; 10 and you made them a kingdom, and priests for our God, and they shall reign over the land.

Gospel: Lk 19:41–44:
When Jesus had come in sight of the city, he wept over it, and said, “If only today you knew the ways of peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Yet days will come upon you, when your enemies will surround you with barricades, and shut you in, and press on you from every side. And they will dash you to the ground and your children with you, and not leave stone upon stone within you, for you did not recognize the time and the visitation of your God.”

When things go well with us and we are on a roll, we sometimes develop insensitivity to the promptings of God. We so believe in our wealth, health and the likes, especially when we are at the peak of our powers that we do not recognize the time and the visitation of our God. This is what happened to Jerusalem, the city of God. She was prosperous, thriving and secure even though she was under Roman rule. She also reveled in her special status as God’s beloved, the seat of religious authority in all of Israel. And so her joy would turn into sorrow. This is the lot of those who have forgotten to tune themselves into their protector and guide – for those who are disconnected from their past will never have a glorious future.

November 20th

1st Reading: Rev 10:8–11:
And the voice I had heard from heaven, spoke again, saying to me, “Go near the angel who stands on the sea and on the land, and take the small book open in his hand.” So, I approached the angel and asked him for the small book; he said to me, “Take it and eat; although it be sweet as honey in your mouth, it will be bitter to your stomach.” I took the small book from the hand of the angel, and ate it. It was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, it turned bitter in my stomach. Then, I was told, “You must, again, proclaim God’s words, about many peoples, nations, tongues and kings.”

Gospel: Lk 19:45–48:
Then Jesus entered the temple area and began to drive out the merchants. And he said to them, “God says in the Scriptures, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have turned it into a den of robbers!” Jesus was teaching every day in the temple. The chief priests and teachers of the law wanted to kill him, and the elders of the Jews as well, but they were unable to do anything, for all the people were listening to him and hanging on his words.

The house of God ought to be a house of encounter with Him; yet, sad to say, we have the uncanny ability to transform it into something else for the sake of practicality or expediency. Because it’s the only place big enough to accommodate our social gatherings, so it becomes a social hall from time to time. Or because it needs to be maintained we lease out some of its space for additional income.

What was once a rare practice becomes permanent through time. The business built around it in time becomes immovable even though they are not really needed now since the parish has improved its sourcing of funds. The zeal of Jesus to preserve the house of God as a house of prayer and holiness ought to mobilize us to be ever vigilant that this be maintained as such. Sacred spaces should be free from mundane concerns.

November 21st

Presentación de la beata María la Virgen

1st Reading: Rev 11:4–12:
These are the two olive trees, and the two lamps, which are before the Lord of the earth. If anyone intends to harm them, fire will come out of their mouths, to devour their enemies: this is how whoever intends to harm them will perish. They have the power to close the sky, and hold back the rain, during the time of their prophetic mission; they also have the power to change water into blood, and punish the earth, with a thousand plagues, any time they wish. But when my witnesses have fulfilled their mission, the beast that comes up from the abyss, will make war upon them, and will conquer and kill them.

Their dead bodies will lie in the square of the great city, which the believers figuratively call Sodom, or Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. And their dead bodies will be exposed, for three days and a half, to people of all tribes, races, languages and nations, who will be ordered not to have them buried. Then, the inhabitants of the earth will rejoice, congratulate one another, and exchange gifts among themselves, because these two prophets were a torment to them. But after those three and a half days, a spirit of life, coming from God, entered them. They, then, stood up, and those who looked at them were seized with great fear. A loud voice from heaven called them, “Come up here.” So they went up to heaven, in the midst of the clouds, in the sight of their enemies.

Gospel: Lk 20:27–40:
Then some Sadducees arrived. These people claim that there is no resurrection, and they asked Jesus this question, “Master, in the law Moses told us, ‘If anyone dies leaving a wife but no children, his brother must take the wife, and any child born to them will be regarded as the child of the deceased.’ Now, there were seven brothers: the first married, but died without children. The second married the woman, but also died childless. And then the third married her, and in this same way all seven died, leaving no children. Last of all the woman died. On the day of the resurrection, to which of them will the woman be a wife? For all seven had her as a wife.”

And Jesus replied, “Taking a husband or a wife is proper to people of this world, but for those who are considered worthy of the world to come, and of resurrection from the dead, there is no more marriage. Besides, they cannot die, for they are like the angels. They are sons and daughters of God, because they are born of the resurrection. Yes, the dead will be raised, as Moses revealed at the burning bush, when he called the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. For God is God of the living, and not of the dead, for to him everyone is alive.” Some teachers of the law then agreed with Jesus, “Master, you have spoken well.” They didn’t dare ask him anything else.

Our capacity to think is something wonderful. It enables us to solve questions even in the abstract realm. However, thinking like all other human faculties is not immune to contamination. It can be distorted by pride, self-interest, envy and the likes. The Sadducees are a religious people who believe that there is no resurrection. They have this hypothetical question that they tested on Jesus that showed the absurdity of such belief. The problem is, they saw it from a wrong angle. They thought that our human realities remain after the resurrection. So Jesus had to teach them the proper perspective. They acknowledged His superior wisdom but did they change their belief? What do you think?