Bible Diary for November 22nd – 28th

November 21st

34th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cristo rey
Santa cecilia

1st Reading: Ezk 34:11–12, 15–17:
Indeed Yahweh says this: I, myself, will care for my sheep and watch over them. As the shepherd looks after his flock when he finds them scattered, so will I watch over my sheep; and gather them from all the places where they were scattered in a time of cloud and fog. I, myself, will tend my sheep and let them rest, word of Yahweh. I will search for the lost and lead back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak; but the fat and strong will be eliminated. I will shepherd my flock with justice. As for you, my flock—says Yahweh—I will distinguish between one sheep and another, and set apart rams and goats.

2nd Reading: 1 Cor 15:20–26, 28:
But no, Christ has been raised from the dead, and he comes before all those who have fallen asleep. A human being brought death; a human being also brings resurrection of the dead. For, as in Adam all die, so, in Christ, all will be made alive. However, each one in his own time: first Christ, then Christ’s people, when he comes. Then, the end will come, when Christ delivers the kingdom to God the Father, after having destroyed every rule, authority and power. For he must reign and put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed will be death. When the Father has subjected everything to him, the Son will place himself under the One who subjected everything to him. From then on, God will be all in all.

Gospel: Mt 25:31–46:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory with all his angels, he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be brought before him; and, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, so will he do with them, placing the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left. The king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, blessed of my Father! Take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you welcomed me into your home. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to see me.’

“Then the righteous will ask him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, and give you food; thirsty, and give you something to drink; or a stranger, and welcome you; or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and go to see you?’ The king will answer, ‘Truly I say to you: just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Go, cursed people, out of my sight, into the eternal fire, which has been prepared for the devil and his angels! For I was hungry, and you did not give me anything to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not welcome me into your house; I was naked, and you did not clothe me; I was sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me.’  

“They, too, will ask, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, thirsty, naked or a stranger, sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ The king will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you: just as you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for me.’ And these will go into eternal punishment; but the just, 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 coming Christmas? Perhaps it is good to include them in my gift list and really think of something that will be meaningful and useful for them during the holiday season.

November 23rd

San Clemente I
San Columbano
Licenciado en Derecho. Miguel agustín pro

1st Reading: Rev 14:1–3, 4b–5:
I was given another vision: The Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, surrounded by one hundred and forty-four thousand people, who had his name, and his Father’s name, written on their foreheads. A sound reverberated in heaven, like the sound of the roaring of waves, or deafening thunder; it was like a chorus of singers, accompanied by their harps.

They sing a new song before the throne, in the presence of the four living creatures and the elders, a song, which no one can learn, except the hundred and forty-four thousand, who have been taken from the earth. They are those who were not defiled with women, but were chaste; these are given, to follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They are the first taken from humankind, who are already of God and the Lamb. No deceit has been found in them; they are faultless.

Gospel: Lk 21:1–4:
Jesus looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury of the temple. He also saw a poor widow, who dropped in two small coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow put in more than all of them. For all of them gave an offering from their plenty; but she, out of her poverty, gave all she had to live on.”

Gifts are not measured in terms of quantity but in the quality of the giving. That is why the widow’s offering bested the offerings of the rich not because it was bigger but because it came from a heart big enough to give all that it had without reserve. Seeing the quantity of the gift does not require much from us. But sensing the quality of the gift requires special sensitivity. Jesus is attentive to small details and we too would profit much if we are aware of these little things that make ordinary offerings such as two small coins special. Our life will be very much enriched.

November 24th

Sts. Andrew Dung-Lac y sus compañeros

1st Reading: Rev 14:14–19:
Then, I had this vision. I saw a white cloud, and the one sitting on it, like a son of man, wearing a golden crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. An angel came out of the Sanctuary, calling loudly, to the one sitting on the cloud, “Put in your sickle and reap, for harvest time has come, and the harvest of the earth is ripe.” He, who was sitting on the cloud, swung his sickle at the earth and reaped the harvest.

Then, another angel, who also had a sharp sickle, came out of the heavenly Sanctuary. Still, another angel, the one who has charge of the altar fire, emerged, and shouted to the first, who held the sharp sickle, “Swing your sharp sickle, and reap the bunches of the vine of the earth, for they are fully ripe.” So, the angel swung his sickle and gathered in the vintage, throwing all the grapes into the great wine press of the anger of God.

Gospel: Lk 21:5–11:
While some people were talking about the temple, remarking that it was adorned with fine stonework and rich gifts, Jesus said to them, “The days will come when there shall not be left one stone upon another of all that you now admire; all will be torn down.” And they asked him, “Master, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?”

Jesus said, “Take care not to be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he; the time is near at hand!’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and troubled times, don’t be frightened; for all these things must happen first, even though the end is not so soon.” And Jesus said, “Nations will fight each other and kingdom will oppose kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and plagues; in many places strange and terrifying signs from heaven will be seen.

Human achievements today are things to behold. They are even mind-boggling sometimes. It seems that there is no limit to what the human mind can do. Even the creativity of the past left behind monuments that still excites our wonder to this very day. But the truth is, no human made monuments will ever endure. The day will come when nothing will be left of what we have once admired. And so our gospel today reminds us not to put our complete trust in the things of the world. They come and go. Only one endures, that is, the Word of God. So as we labor to refine our human capacities, so much more should we labor to refine our spiritual achievements. These are the things that will endure forever.

November 25th

Santa Catalina de Alejandría

1st Reading: Rev 15:1–4:
Then, I saw another great and marvelous sign in the heavens: seven angels brought seven plagues, which are the last, for with these, the wrath of God will end. There was a sea of crystal, mingled with fire, and the conquerors of the beast, of its name and the mark of its name stood by it. They had been given the celestial harps, and they sang the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb: Great and marvelous are your works, O Lord, God and Master of the universe. Justice and truth guide your steps, O King of the nations. Lord, who will not give honor and glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All the nations will come and bow before you, for they have now seen your judgments.

Gospel: Lk 21:12–19:
Before all these things happen, people will lay their hands on you and persecute you; you will be delivered to the synagogues and put in prison, and for my sake you will be brought before kings and governors. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. So keep this in mind: do not worry in advance about what to say, for I will give you words and wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends, and some of you will be put to death. But even though, because of my name, you will be hated by everyone, not a hair of your head will perish. By your patient endurance you will save your souls.

Discipleship has its cost. It is not merely a romantic feeling that we follow the one true Son of God but we will have damages to pay in this world. This at least was disclosed by Jesus to His disciples. He did not give them a false picture as to what they were entering into. He was honest to tell them that trials would be part and parcel of their lives. The only thing He promised was His never-failing help. Amidst all of these trials, He would be there. And so a potential disciple can weigh things out before deciding to follow. Jesus recruits without duplicity. Thus one can never blame the Lord for the cost of following Him has been laid down beforehand. We follow an honest and truthful Master. We ought to be one also.

November 26th

Acción de gracias

1st Reading: Rev 18:1–2, 21–23; 19:1–3, 9a:
After this, I saw another angel, coming down from heaven. So great was his authority, that the whole earth was lit up with his glory. In a strong voice he cried out: A powerful angel picked up a boulder, the size of a large millstone, and threw it into the sea, saying: “With such violence will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down, never again to be seen. Never again, will tunes of harpists, minstrels, trumpeters and flutists be heard in you. Never again, will an artisan of any trade, be found in you. Never again, will the noise of the mill be heard. Never again, will the light of a lamp shine in you. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never, again, be heard in you. Because your traders were the world’s great, and you led the nations astray by your magic spell.”

After this, I heard what sounded like the loud singing of a great assembly in heaven: “Alleluia! Salvation, glory and might belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just. He has condemned the great harlot who corrupted the world with her adultery. He has avenged his servants’ blood, shed by her hand, in harlotry.” Once more, they sang: “Alleluia! The smoke from her goes up, for ever and ever!” Then, the angel told me, “Write: Happy are those invited to the wedding of the Lamb.” And he went on, “These are true words of God.”

Gospel: Lk 21:20–28:
“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that the time has come when it will be reduced to a wasteland. If you are in Judea, flee to the mountains! If you are in Jerusalem, leave! If you are outside the city, don’t enter it! For these will be the days of its punishment, and all that was announced in the Scriptures will be fulfilled. How hard will it be for pregnant women, and for mothers with babies at the breast! For a great calamity will come upon the land, and wrath upon this people. They will be put to death by the sword, or taken as slaves to other nations; and the pagans will trample upon Jerusalem, until the time of the pagans is fulfilled.

“Then there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of nations, perplexed when they hear the roaring of the sea and its waves. People will faint with fear at the mere thought of what is to come upon the world, for the forces of the universe will be shaken. Then, at that time, they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. So, when you see things begin to happen, stand erect and lift up your heads, for your deliverance is drawing near.”

We tend to look at the end time literature with fear. After all, it speaks of violence and cataclysm too terrifying to contemplate. And so we have two tendencies towards these writings. We fear them so much that we create a spirituality based on fear that God is not a loving God but a harsh and cold judge. On the other hand, we might dismiss them as mere literary style of writing and the language employed is symbolic and therefore not literal.

And so we go our merry way. Whatever one’s stance before the apocalyptic readings, we still have to look at our own preparedness to meet the Lord on the last day. It is not what will happen, for the end of time is a given, but how ready we are when the time comes that matters. We should not therefore preoccupy ourselves with the date and the exact occurrence of the apocalypse; rather, we should get ourselves ready when the time comes.

November 27th

1st Reading: Rev 20:1–4, 11 – 21:2:
Then, an angel came down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the Abyss, and a huge chain. He seized the monster, the ancient serpent, namely Satan or the devil, and chained him for a thousand years. He threw him into the abyss, and closed its gate with the key, then secured it with locks, that he might not deceive the nations in the future, until the thousand years have passed. Then, he will be released for a little while. There were thrones, and seated on them were those with the power to judge. I, then, saw the spirits of those who had been beheaded, for having held the teachings of Jesus, and on account of the word of God.

I saw all those, who had refused to worship the beast, or its image, or receive its mark on the forehead, or on the hand. They returned to life, and reigned with the Messiah for a thousand years. This is the first resurrection.  After that, I saw a great and splendid throne, and the one seated upon it. At once, heaven and earth disappeared, leaving no trace. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before the throne, while books were opened. Another book, the book of life, was also opened. Then, the dead were judged, according to the records of these books, that is, each one according to his works. The sea gave up the dead it had kept, as did death and the netherworld, so that all might be judged, according to their works.

Then, death and the netherworld were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. All who were not recorded in the book of life were thrown into the lake of fire. Then, I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and no longer was there any sea. I saw the new Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down from God, out of heaven, adorned as a bride prepared for her husband.

Gospel: Lk 21:29–33:
Jesus told his disciples this comparison, “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. As soon as their buds sprout, you know that summer is already near. In the same way, as soon as you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I tell you, this generation will not pass away, until all this has happened: heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

For those who have the sensitivity of spirit, nothing in the spiritual realm will ever catch them unawares. Even Jesus Himself tells us that signs will be there before the end will come. It is only a matter of reading and interpreting the signs correctly for one to prepare and not be surprised. It is the element of discernment that brings into the equation the importance of community. Alone, one could probably perceive the signs and thus respond accordingly.

But if one discerns with the community, there is a greater chance that the result will be better, more attuned and refined by the collective discernment of the community. Many prophets of doom have predicted the end time but they have failed miserably. They did not submit their discernment to the greater community of believers. Jesus did not disclose the secret of reading signs to an individual apostle or to a select few. He told them all so that the discernment of the time would now rest in the hands of the community and not for a privileged few.

November 28th

1st Reading: Rev 22:1–7:
Then, he showed me the river of life, clear as crystal, gushing from the throne of God, and of the Lamb. In the middle of the city, on both sides of the river, are the trees of life, producing fruit twelve times, once each month, the leaves of which are for healing the nations. No longer will there be a curse; the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and God’s servants will live in his presence. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.

There will be no more night. They will not need the light of lamp, or sun, for God, himself, will be their light, and they will reign forever. Then, the angel said to me, “These words are sure and true; the Lord God, who inspires the prophets, has sent his angel, to show his servants what must happen soon. I am coming soon! Happy are those who keep the prophetic words of this book.”

Gospel: Lk 21:34–36:
Be on your guard: don’t immerse yourselves in a life of pleasure, drunkenness and worldly cares, lest that day catch you unaware, like a trap! For, like a snare, will that day come upon all the inhabitants of the earth. But watch at all times and pray, that you may be able to escape all that is going to happen, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Being on guard seems to evoke in some an image of tense vigilance that is tiresome. A more relaxed understanding of being on guard is being present to the moment, being mindful of what is happening in the now. It is not a tense expectation that something bad might happen during the watch. It is rather the openness to be surprised at any moment.

It is like the wife who expects a husband’s return after a long separation. She fusses over her welcome preparations, but all her being is attuned to the coming of her beloved. She does her work but every moment is a possible moment for the joy of reunion. If we reframe our understanding of how to be on guard while waiting for the end time, we will have a relaxed and enjoyable time of waiting.