Bible Diary for November 7th – 13th

November 7th

Domingo 32 en tiempo ordinario

1st Reading: 1K 17:10-16:
So Elijah went to Zarephath. On reaching the gate of the town, he saw a widow gathering sticks. He called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel that I may drink.” As she was going to bring it, he called after her and said, “Bring me also a piece of bread.” But she answered, “As Yahweh your God lives, I have no bread left but only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am just now gathering some sticks so that I may go in and prepare something for myself and my son to eat—and die.”

Elijah then said to her, “Do not be afraid. Go and do as you have said, but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me; then make some for yourself and your son. For this is the word of Yahweh, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of meal shall not be emptied nor shall the jug of oil fail, until the day when Yahweh sends rain to the earth.” So she went and did as Elijah told her; and she had food for herself, Elijah and her son from that day on. The jar of flour was not emptied nor did the jug of oil fail, in accordance with what Yahweh had said through Elijah.

2nd Reading: Heb 9:24-28:
Christ did not enter some sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself. He is now in the presence of God on our behalf. He had not to offer himself many times, as the High Priest does: he who may return every year, because the blood is not his own. Otherwise he would have suffered many times from the creation of the world. But no; he manifested himself only now at the end of the ages, to take away sin by sacrifice, and, as humans die only once and afterwards are judged, in the same way Christ sacrificed himself once to take away the sins of the multitude. There will be no further question of sin when he comes again to save those waiting for him.

Gospel: Mk 12:38-44:
As he was teaching, he also said to them, “Beware of those teachers of the Law who enjoy walking around in long robes and being greeted in the marketplace, and who like to occupy reserved seats in the synagogues and the first places at feasts. They even devour the widow’s and the orphan’s goods while making a show of long prayers. How severe a sentence they will receive!”

Jesus sat down opposite the Temple treasury and watched the people dropping money into the treasury box; and many rich people put in large offerings. But a poor widow also came and dropped in two small coins. Then Jesus called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all those who gave offerings. For all of them gave from their plenty, but she gave from her poverty and put in everything she had, her very living.”

Perhaps it is because we are embodied beings that we desperately want to concretize in the material plane even those that belong to the realm of the spirit. Holiness for example is a state that cannot be quantified. It is expressed in our speech and action in an unconscious manner. It attaches itself to our being. Thus seen or unseen, it never changes. It simply is. But some people knowing our need for the material and concrete capitalize on this by faking holiness. They invent elaborate actions and speeches that are too loud and glaring. They intrude into our awareness without being invited.

She was not ashamed to show her inadequate status. And thus her little, guileless acts exude odor of sanctity. These poured from a genuine center. I may have fallen prey to the occasional need to act out my good deeds for others to praise me. A close scrutiny of my heart is perhaps in order today to purge myself of the need to boast and perform acts of holiness for my own sake. Father Almighty, save me from my tendency to seek praise and recognition even in the sphere of spirituality. Make my acts of piety genuine and true and free from affectations and artifices. May all redound to Your greater glory. Amen.

November 8th

1st Reading: Wis 1:1-7:
Love justice, you who rule over the world! Think rightly of God, seek him with simplicity of heart, for he reveals himself to those who do not challenge him and is found by those who do not distrust him. Crooked thinking distances you from God; and his Omnipotence, put to the test, confounds the foolish. Wisdom does not enter the wicked nor remain in a body that is enslaved to sin.

The Holy Spirit who instructs us shuns deceit; it keeps aloof from foolishness and is ill at ease when injustice is done. Wisdom is a spirit, a friend to man, and will not leave the blasphemous un punished, because God knows his innermost feelings, truly sees his thoughts and hears what he says. For God‘s spirit has filled the whole world; and he who holds together all things, knows each word that is spoken.

Gospel: Lk 17:1-6:
Jesus said to his disciples, “Scandals will necessarily come and cause people to fall; but woe to the one who brings them about. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone around his neck. Truly, this would be better for that person, than to cause one of these little ones to fall. Listen carefully: if your brother offends you, tell him, and if he is sorry, forgive him. And if he offends you seven times in one day, but seven times he says to you, ‘I‘m sorry,‘ forgive him.“ The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” And the Lord said, “If you have faith, even the size of a mustard seed, you may say to this tree, ‘Be uprooted, and plant yourself in the sea!’ and it will obey you.

Priests, religious and lay people share in the prophetic function of Jesus through the baptism. The baptized are teachers. Teaching needs constant studies, researches and reflections. We have to enlighten, lead people to the truth. A doctor who prescribes a wrong medicine to a patient, will only affect one person. While a teacher who teaches wrongly, will bring many to falsehood, to wrong doings, to sin. It is “better for that person (to be thrown into the sea to die) than to cause one of these little ones to fall.” “Crooked thinking distances you from God.” “Lord, increase our faith” was the request of the apostles.

Jesus‘ reply was scientific, He explained how a small mustard seed grow naturally, it sprouts, grows, gets bigger branches then bears fruit. Faith has been planted in us. It will increase (grow) if cared for and given the nutrients. Fr. Romy Castro, SVD prescribed spiritual vitamins needed to grow: Vitamin A–Active attendance at church, Vitamin B–Basic Bible reading, Vitamin C–Caring service, Vitamin D-Daily prayer, Vitamin E–Eucharist. To these vitamins let me add, Vitamin S–Sacraments. With these nutrients, we will be spiritually healthy. Our faith will grow and will bear lasting fruits.

November 9th

Dedicación de la Basílica de San Juan de Letrán

1st Reading: Ezk 47:1-2, 8-9, 12:
The man brought me back to the entrance of the temple and I saw water coming out from the threshold of the temple and flowing eastwards. The temple faced the east and the water flowed from the south side of the temple, from the south side of the altar. He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing the east and there I saw the stream coming from the south side.

He said to me, “This water goes to the east, down to the Arabah, and when it flows into the sea of foulsmelling water, the water will become wholesome. Wherever the river flows, swarms of creatures will live in it; fish will be plentiful and the seawater will become fresh. Wherever it flows, life will abound. Near the river on both banks there will be all kinds of fruit trees with foliage that will not wither and fruit that will never fail; each month they will bear a fresh crop because the water comes from the temple. The fruit will be good to eat and the leaves will be used for healing.”

2nd Reading: 1 Cor 3:9c-11, 16-17:
Brothers and sisters: You are God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it, for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ. Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.

Gospel: Jn 2:13-22:
As the Passover of the Jews was at hand, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the Temple court he found merchants selling oxen, sheep and doves, and money-changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the Temple court, together with the oxen and sheep. He knocked over the tables of the money-changers, scattering the coins, and ordered the people selling doves, “Take all this away and stop making a marketplace of my Father’s home!” His disciples recalled the words of Scripture: Zeal for your House devours me like fire.

The Jews then questioned Jesus, “Where are the miraculous signs which give you the right to do this?” And Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then replied, “The building of this temple has already taken fortysix years, and you will raise it up in three days?” Actually, Jesus was referring to the temple of his body. Only when he had risen from the dead did his disciples remember these words; then they believed both the Scripture and the words Jesus had spoken.

The basilica of Saint John of Lateran in Rome is considered the cathedral of Catholic Christianity, where the first Christian emperor, Constantine, was baptized. Through the Gospel we reflect on the true meaning of our churches and shrines. First, we have to avoid any kind of defilement that converts the temple into a marketplace. We can understand the trade in Jerusalem temple because of the Jewish worship – oxen, doves, and money-changer. We can find excuses for the needs of our Christian worship, but easily around our temples, markets can increase in alarming ways. Let us apply the prophetic words of the Psalm to our behavior: “Zeal for your House devours me as fire” (69: 10).

The final discussion with the Jews is full of insights. The sign proposed by Jesus is provocative: the destruction of the temple and the promise of reconstruction in three days seems absurd. We are happier than Jews and disciples at this moment. We know the Resurrection of Jesus and we easily understand the temple as the symbol of this body and the Church as his spiritual dwelling. Our duty now is to increase our faith and to prepare in hope our sharing in Christ’s resurrection in the heavenly Jerusalem.

November 10th

San Leo el Grande

1st Reading: Wis 6:1-11:
Listen, O kings, and understand; rulers of the most distant lands, take warning. Pay attention, you who rule multitudes and boast of the numerous subjects in your pagan nations. For authority was given you by the Lord, your kingship is from the Most High who will examine your works and scrutinize your intentions. If, as officials of his kingdom, you have not judged justly or observed his law or walked the way God pointed out, he will oppose you swiftly and terribly; his sentence strikes the mighty suddenly.

For the lowly there may be excuses and pardon, but the great will be severely punished. For the Lord of all makes no distinction, nor does he take account of greatness. Both great and lowly are his work and he watches over all, but the powerful are to be judged more strictly. It is to you then, sovereigns, that I speak, that you may learn Wisdom and not stumble. For those who keep the holy laws in a holy way will be acknowledged holy, and those who accept the teaching will find in it their defense. Welcome my words, desire them and they will instruct you.

Gospel: Lk 17:11-19:
On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus passed through Samaria and Galilee, and as he entered a village, ten lepers came to meet him. Keeping their distance, they called to him, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” Jesus said to them, “Go, and show yourselves to the priests.” Then, as they went on their way, they found they were cured.

One of them, as soon as he saw that he was cleansed, turned back, praising God in a loud voice; and throwing himself on his face before Jesus, he gave him thanks. This man was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked him, “Were not all ten healed? Where are the other nine? Did none of them decide to return and give praise to God, but this foreigner?” And Jesus said to him, “Stand up and go your way; your faith has saved you.”

The ‘conversion’ of St Francis of Assisi took place through his contact with lepers. We read in his Testament: “The Lord granted me, Brother Francis, to begin to do penance in this way: while I was in sin, it seemed very bitter to me to see lepers. And the Lord himself led me among them and I had mercy upon them. And when I left them that which seemed bitter to me, was changed into sweetness of soul and body; and afterward I lingered a little and left the world.” Today we have the healing of ten lepers. You remember that Jews and Samaritans were not friends. Nevertheless, the illness of leprosy gathered nine Jews and one Samaritan in the same group.

Common disgrace leads to communion beyond boundaries. At a distance to observe the Law (Lev 13:46), they called: “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” Jesus, observing also the Law, sent them to the priest (Lev 14: 2-3). The division of the group reappeared. The Samaritan only came back to glorify the Lord, and received his praise. The foreigners take the first place. We are not Jesus. We cannot heal lepers. But we can imitate Francis. We can approach the poor and the beggars. We can show pity. Let us ask the Lord for a compassionate and grateful heart.

November 11th

San Martín de Tours
Día de los Veteranos

1st Reading: Wis 7:22b—8:1:
In her is a spirit that is intelligent, saintly, unique, manifold, subtle, active, concise, pure and lucid. It cannot corrupt, loves what is good and nothing can restrain it; it is beneficent, loving humankind, steadfast, dependable, calm though almighty. It sees everything and penetrates all spirits, however intelligent, subtle and pure they may be. Wisdom, in fact, surpasses in mobility all that moves, and being so pure pervades and permeates all things. She is a breath of the power of God, a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; nothing impure can enter her.

She is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of God’s action and an image of his goodness. She is but one, yet Wisdom can do all things and, herself unchanging, she renews all things. She enters holy souls, making them prophets and friends of God, for God loves only those who live with Wisdom. She is indeed more beautiful than the sun and surpasses all the constellations; she outrivals light, for light gives way to night, but evil cannot prevail against Wisdom. Wisdom displays her strength from one end of the earth to the other, ordering all things rightly.

Gospel: Lk 17:20-25:
The Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was to come. He answered, “The kingdom of God is not like something you can observe, and say of it, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘See, there it is!’ for the kingdom of God is within you.” And Jesus said to his disciples, “The time is at hand, when you will long to see one of the glorious days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. Then people will tell you, ‘Look there! Look here!’ Do not go with them, do not follow them. As lightning flashes from one end of the sky to the other, so will it be with the Son of Man; but first he must suffer many things, and be rejected by this generation.

Often, in the different Christian groups that surround us we hear news about the end of the ages and the coming of Jesus. Their predictions have been wrong and the history goes on amidst many eschatological signs. Since the time of the Babylonian captivity, through the prophets Jeremiah and Daniel, Jews also were concerned about the arrival of the final kingdom of God. So the words of Jesus are very suitable for our time, in which even films are so often very apocalyptical.

He insists on the hidden presence of this kingdom among us as the seed or the leaven in the word preached and in the sacraments celebrated. The signs are somehow familiar and we have to discern them. If we are attentive, in ourselves and in our parishes, communities and associations, so many spiritual gifts and charismas suggest the growing presence of the kingdom. But we must distrust of the clamor for its arrival. The final radiance of the day of the Son of Man will be without possible confusion. For now we are, in sufferings and persecutions, silently spreading the kingdom with Jesus.

November 12th

San Josaphat

1st Reading: Wis 13:1-9:
The natural helplessness of humans is seen in their ignorance of God. The experience of good things did not lead them to the knowledge of Him who is. They were interested in his works, but they did not recognize the author of them. Fire, wind, air, the sphere of the stars, rushing water and the lights in the sky were held as the rulers of the world. If, charmed by such beauty, they took them for gods, let them know how far superior is their sovereign. And if they were impressed by their power and activity, let them understand from this how much mightier is he who formed them.

For the grandeur and beauty of creatures lead us to ponder on their Author, greater and more magnificent. No doubt these people are not to be blamed severely, for possibly they strayed though they searched for God and desired to find him. They pondered over the created things that surrounded them and were captivated by the sight of such beauty. Even so they are not to be excused, for if they were able to explore the world, why did they not discover first the world’s Sovereign?

Gospel: Lk 17:26-37:
As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be on the day the Son of Man comes. In those days people ate and drank and got married; but on the day Noah entered the ark, the flood came and destroyed them all. So it was in the days of Lot: people ate and drank, and bought and sold, and planted and built; but on the day Lot left Sodom, God made fire and sulfur rain down from heaven, which destroyed them all. So will it be on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, if you are on the rooftop, don’t go down into the house to get your belongings; and if you happen to be in the fields, do not turn back.

Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to save his life will lose it, but whoever gives his life will be born again. I tell you, though two men are sharing the same bed, it might happen that one will be taken, and the other left; though two women are grinding meal together, one might be taken and the other left.” “Then they asked Jesus, “Where will this take place, Lord?” And he answered, “Where the body is, there too will the vultures gather.”

Jesus likes to draw lessons from the events of the Old Testament. This is the background of Israelites. That should be also our biblical foundation to enter into God’s Revelation. Today we have allusions to the book of Genesis: the universal flood and Noah (Gen 6-8) and the destruction of Sodom and Lot (Gen 19). In both cases there is urgency because of the punishment – water or fire – but in both cases the people didn’t expect the terrible event. The day of the Son of Man will similarly be sudden and hasty. There will be no possibility to come back. Jesus reminds his audience of Lot’s wife who looked back and became a pillar of salt. The frequent floods in the Philippines give us an idea of this pressure.

Even if sometimes there are announcements, the phenomenon as such is devastating. an example perhaps of the final judgment. It is not the moment to keep to oneself but to give oneself entirely. Can we see the end as an allusion to the risen body of Christ that comes with majesty in the midst of the whole creation? Thus at the end of the liturgical year, the readings remind us of the final events to awaken our hope and the urgency of our souls’ preparation with confidence and peace.

November 13th

San Frances Xavier Cabrini

1st Reading: Wis 18:14-16; 19:6-9:
While all was in quiet silence and the night was in the middle of its course, your almighty Word leapt down from the Royal Throne—a stern warrior to a doomed world. Carrying your fearful command like a sharpened sword and stretching from heaven to earth, he filled the universe with death. All creation in its different forms was fashioned anew at your command, in order to protect your people.

The cloud covered the camp with its shadow, dry land emerged where water had been. A safe passage was opened through the Red Sea, the tempestuous flood became a green plain where the whole nation of those protected by your hand passed across, witnessing your astounding deeds. They were like horses led to pasture, or like frolicking lambs, praising you, their Lord, who had delivered them.

Gospel: Lk 18:1-8:
Jesus told them a parable to show them that they should pray continually, and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor people. In the same town was a widow who kept coming to him, saying: ‘Defend my rights against my opponent.’ For a time he refused, but finally he thought: ‘Even though I neither fear God nor care about people, this widow bothers me so much I will see that she gets justice; then she will stop coming and wearing me out.”

And Jesus said, “Listen to what the evil judge says. Will God not do justice for his chosen ones who cry to him day and night even if he delays in answering them? I tell you, he will speedily do them justice. Yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Once again in this parable Jesus gives an extremely painful situation. On the one hand is the selfish judge, incapable of administrating justice. On the other is the pitiful case of a widow oppressed by her opponent. Of course, she doesn’t have any support. However, she appears very persevering in her plea. Notice that the final decision of the judge is still selfish. He is not concerned with the widow’s justice, but his own convenience. The moral of Jesus is surprising.

The argument is called a fortiori, i.e., if the egoistic judge was forced to do justice, all the more God would do it for the people who cry to him day and night. And Jesus introduces here a new paradox: will the action of God be slow or speedy? Often we answer, slow. In fact, only in heaven will we realize the suitable time God used for us and our history in his interventions. Jesus however reassures us, but with a final question about perseverance in faith at the moment of his coming. Perseverance then is the teaching of the Gospel.