Bible Diary for October 24th – 30th

October 24th

30º domingo del tiempo ordinario
St. Anthony Mary Claret

1st Reading: Jer 31:7-9:
For Yahweh says this, “Shout with joy for Jacob; rejoice for the greatest of nations. Proclaim your praise and say: ‘Yahweh has saved his people, the remnant of Israel!’ Look, I will bring them back from the land of the north, gather them from the ends of the earth, the lame and the blind, mothers and women in labor—a great throng will return. They went away weeping, they will return in joy. I will lead them by the streams of water, on a level path so that no one will stumble, for I am Israel’s father and Ephraim is my firstborn.

2nd Reading: Heb 5:1-6:
Every High Priest is taken from among mortals and appointed to be their representative before God to offer gifts and sacrifices for sin. He is able to understand the ignorant and erring for he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he is bound to offer sacrifices for his sins as well as for the sins of the people. Besides, one does not presume to take this dignity, but takes it only when called by God, as Aaron was. Nor did Christ become High Priest in taking upon himself this dignity, but it was given to him by the One who says: You are my son, I have begotten you today. And in another place: You are a priest forever in the priestly order of Melchizedek.

Gospel: Mk 10:46-52:
As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar, Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth passing by, he began to call out, “Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me!” Many people scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he shouted all the louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man saying, “Take heart. Get up, he is calling you.” He immediately threw aside his cloak, jumped up and went to Jesus. Then Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said, “Master, let me see again!” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way, your faith has made you well.” And immediately he could see, and he followed Jesus along the road.

Blessed occasions present themselves to us sometimes during unusual circumstances, when we least expect it, when it is inconvenient and we have to compete with others for attention and when it is inappropriate to approach as dictated by convention. It happened to Bartimaeus, a blind man who spent his life in search for healing and wholeness. Jesus passed by unexpectedly with a large crowd in tow. His attention must have been into many things at once. But Bartimaeus was desperate; encumbered by his blindness, he could not find his way towards Jesus. So he let his voice catch Jesus’ attention. Others began to rebuke him but it made Jesus aware of him.

This in turn led to his healing. If we could not find our way to Jesus because of our spiritual blindness, our voice can call His attention to ourselves. Have I prayed my way lately to the Lord? Do I really pray for that which I need the most? Perhaps a quick look at my prayer intentions will help me clarify whether I truly ask for those that matter most or not. Father, purify my intentions. Let my prayer be of those things that truly matter. Let me not wander around begging for things that are mundane and unimportant. May I only ask for those which I am most in need of. In the name of Jesus our Lord. Amen.

October 25th

1st Reading: Rom 8:12-17:
Then brothers, let us leave the flesh and no longer live according to it. If not, we will die. Rather, walking in the Spirit, let us put to death the body’s deeds so that we may live. All those who walk in the Spirit of God are sons and daughters of God. Then, no more fear: you did not receive a spirit of slavery, but the Spirit that makes you sons and daughters and every time we cry, “Abba! (this is Dad!) Father!” the Spirit assures our spirit that we are sons and daughters of God. If we are children, we are heirs, too. Ours will be the inheritance of God and we will share it with Christ; for if we now suffer with him, we will also share glory with him.

Gospel: Lk 13:10-17:
Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath and a crippled woman was there. An evil spirit had kept her bent for eighteen years so that she could not straighten up at all. On seeing her, Jesus called her and said, “Woman, you are freed from your infirmity.” Then he laid his hands upon her and immediately she was made straight and praised God. But the ruler of the synagogue was indignant because Jesus had performed this healing on the Sabbath day and he said to the people, “There are six days in which to work; come on those days to be healed and not on the Sabbath.”

But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Everyone of you unties his ox or his donkey on the Sabbath and leads it out of the barn to give it water. And here you have a daughter of Abraham whom Satan had bound for eighteen years. Should she not be freed from her bonds on the Sabbath?” When Jesus said this, all his opponents felt ashamed. But the people rejoiced at the many wonderful things that happened because of him.

Let us imagine the complete scene of the Gospel. It is Sabbath and Jesus is teaching. He is acknowledged as Rabbi. But one crippled woman is there with a painful condition for many years. Jesus calls her and frees her from the infirmity attributed to an evil spirit. Still more, he lays his hands upon her and immediately the cure is done. She praises God. We stress the powerful compassion of Jesus in his spontaneous healing. The conflict arises soon after. To heal is work. The sabbatical rest is strict. The ruler of the synagogue is indignant. For him, in the house of the Lord there is a violation of the Law.

The reaction of Jesus is however illuminating. He uses the common sense of farmers with their animals. He compares it to the moment wherein a farmer is to untie an ox or a donkey, yet here is a “daughter of Abraham” (the honorific title of an Israelite) needing to be healed. The Sabbath is the day to do good works. For us, the attitude of Jesus is a permanent corrective warning of our tendency to narrowness of spirit and a lesson for the Christian celebration of Sunday.

October 26th

1st Reading: Rom 8:18-25:
I consider that the suffering of our present life cannot be compared with the glory that will be revealed and given to us. All creation is eagerly expecting the birth in glory of the children of God. For if now the created world was unable to attain its purpose, this did not come from itself, but from the one who subjected it. But it is not without hope; for even the created world will be freed from this fate of death and share the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pangs of birth.

Not creation alone, but even ourselves, although the Spirit was given to us as a foretaste of what we are to receive, we groan in our innermost being, eagerly awaiting the day when God will give us full rights and rescue our bodies as well. In hope we already have salvation. But if we saw what we hoped for, there would no longer be hope: how can you hope for what is already seen? So we hope for what we do not see and we will receive it through patient hope.

Gospel: Lk 13:18-21:
And Jesus continued speaking, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? Imagine a person who has taken a mustard seed and planted it in his garden. The seed has grown and become like a small tree, so that the birds of the air shelter in its branches.” And Jesus said again, “What is the kingdom of God like? Imagine a woman who has taken yeast and hidden it in three measures of flour until it is all leavened.”

The mustard seed is very small, hardly greater than dust. However, a mustard tree is bigger than any garden plant. That is why birds can nest in its branches. Similarly, yeast is insignificant, but its effect is great: the whole mass of dough rises. Why did Jesus use these parables to explain the Kingdom of God? He knew the Father’s will and he had prophetic vision.

Beyond human empires–Roman, Byzantine, Arabic, Mongol, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, British, French, German, American…–the Kingdom of God is not the fruit of military and powerful conquests; the salvation it brings is for eternity; its visible presence is however a growing nest for humankind and its effects transform human history and even the entire creation. As Christians, do we consider ourselves through the Church in Christ, as instruments of this universal expectation of the kingdom of justice, holiness and peace forever? Only in heaven will we enjoy the kingdom of God that we forefeel now in hope.

October 27th

1st Reading: Rom 8:26–30:
Brothers and sisters: We are weak, but the Spirit comes to help us. How to ask? And what shall we ask for? We do not know, but the spirit intercedes for us without words, as if with groans. And He who sees inner secrets knows the desires of the Spirit, for he asks for the holy ones what is pleasing to God. We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him, whom he has called according to his plan. Those whom he knew beforehand, he has also predestined to be like his Son, similar to him, so that he may be the Firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And so, those whom God predestined he called, and those whom he called he makes righteous, and to those whom he makes righteous he will give his Glory.

Gospel: Lk 13:22–30:
Jesus went through towns and villages teaching and making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, is it true that few people will be saved?” And Jesus answered, “Do your best to enter by the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you will stand outside; then you will knock at the door calling: ‘Lord, open to us.’ But he will say to you: ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will say: We ate and drank with you and you taught in our streets!

“But he will reply: ‘I don’t know where you come from. Away from me all you workers of evil.’ You will weep and grind your teeth when you see Abraham and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves left outside. Others will sit at table in the kingdom of God, people coming from east and west, from north and south. Some who are among the last will be the first, and others who were first will be last!”

Is being known by God more important than knowing God? In the two readings of the day, see the shocking references to being known or not known by God. Paul tells us that those whom God knew beforehand would share in God’s glory. Jesus speaks about the condemnation of those people to whom he would say, “I don’t know where you come from.” How is it possible to be known by God even when we may not always know Him? Perhaps we have a clue in the discourse on the Last Judgment (Matt 25:31-46) where the elect express surprise at having catered to the needs of Jesus when they were merely caring for people in their life.

They did not know or recognize God, but God knew and recognized them in their act of love. Many people from the north, the south, the east, and the west would come and enter the Kingdom, for God knows them even when they do not know God. Love is God’s nature and in their acts of love, God recognizes them to be His own. The Spirit comes to help us in our weakness. Let us ask the Spirit to do in us what is pleasing to God so that we will be known by Him.

October 28th

San Judas
San Simón

1ª lectura: Ef 2: 19-22:
Now you are no longer strangers or guests, but fellow citizens of the holy people: you are of the household of God. You are the house whose foundations are the apostles and prophets, and whose cornerstone is Christ Jesus. In him the whole structure is joined together and rises to be a holy temple in the Lord In him you too are being built to become the spiritual Sanctuary of God.

Gospel: Lk 6:12-16:
At this time Jesus went out into the hills to pray, spending the whole night in prayer with God. When day came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them whom he called apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James son of Alpheus and Simon called the Zealot; Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who would be the traitor.

The feast of the Apostles is always an occasion to remind the apostolic origin of our faith and our Church, and to renew our commitment in the apostolate. For us Christians the Creed is the summary of the Word of God. Our Creed is entitled “apostolic” because the Apostles preached the Good News of Jesus and our knowledge of Him comes through the witness of the twelve disciples who were first summoned by Him, as the Gospel of today reminds us. Our faith has therefore an unshakable foundation. Our Church is “apostolic.” The faith is the answer to the apostolic preaching. Consequently, the community that confesses this faith and celebrates the Sacraments of Jesus is apostolic.

The deeds of some Apostles are well known. Others, however, are really hidden. It is nice to celebrate the feast of these two ignored Apostles. Why? In Christ all of us are called to share the apostolic mission, but probably our words and deeds will be simple and unknown. In this sense we will be followers of Simon and Jude in their deep and discrete apostolate. We are now successors of them according to the grace we received. Let us be faithful and joyfully fulfill our vocation until the end.

October 29th

1st Reading: Rom 9:1-5:
I tell you sincerely in Christ, and my conscience assures me in the Holy Spirit that I am not lying: I have great sadness and constant anguish for the Jews. I would even desire that I myself suffer the curse of being cut off from Christ, instead of my brethren: I mean my own people, my kin. They are Israelites whom God adopted, and on them rests his glory. Theirs are the Covenants, the Law, the worship and the promises of God. They are descendants of the Patriarchs and from their race Christ was born, he who as God is above all distinctions. Blessed be He forever and ever: Amen!

Gospel: Lk 14:1-6:
One Sabbath Jesus had gone to eat a meal in the house of a leading Pharisee, and he was carefully watched. In front of him was a man suffering from dropsy; so Jesus asked the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” But no one answered. Jesus then took the man, healed him and sent him away. And he addressed them, “If your lamb or your ox falls into a well on a Sabbath day, who among you doesn’t hurry to pull it out?” And they could not answer.

Today the scenario of the Gospel is not a synagogue. We are in the house of a leading Pharisee. Jesus, the itinerant Rabbi, receives frequent invitations from Pharisees and teachers of the Law. However, there is a second intention. They would like to thoroughly control the conduct of Jesus. It is not a sincere invitation but in some sense it is a trap. Jesus knows and doesn’t decline the meeting. This kind of invitation occurs normally on Sabbath.

And easily, on Sabbath there are special occasions to discover the true actions and even the doctrine of Jesus. He is indeed a teacher who has not studied nor can be controlled. In fact the occasion immediately arrives. A man suffering from dropsy is there. It is a terrible infirmity that provokes constant thirst. Jesus takes the initiative to ask about the lawfulness of healing. But the audience is silent. Nobody wants to expose himself. Jesus instead knows his thoughts and the firm foundation of his deeds. In him alone we have the source of our Christian ethics in a ceaseless pedagogy in the Spirit.

October 30th

1st Reading: Rom 11:1-2a, 11-12, 25-29:
And so I ask: Has God rejected his people? Of course not. I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. No, God has not rejected the people he knew beforehand. Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall? Of course not. Their stumbling allowed salvation to come to the pagan nations and this, in turn, will stir up the jealousy of Israel. If Israel’s shortcoming made the world rich, if the pagan nations grew rich with what they lost, what will happen when Israel is restored? I want you to understand the mysterious decree of God, lest you be too confident: a part of Israel will remain hardened until the majority of pagans have entered.

Then the whole of Israel will be saved, as Scripture says: From Zion will come the Liberator who will purify the descendants of Jacob from all sin. And this is the Covenant I will make with them: I will take away from them their sins. Regarding the Gospel, the Jews are opponents, but it is for your benefit. Regarding election, they are beloved because of their ancestors; because the call of God and his gifts cannot be nullified.

Gospel: Lk 14:1, 7-11:
One Sabbath Jesus had gone to eat a meal in the house of a leading Pharisee, and he was carefully watched. Jesus then told a parable to the guests, for he had noticed how they tried to take the places of honor. And he said, “When you are invited to a wedding party, do not choose the best seat. It may happen that someone more important than you has been invited, and your host, who invited both of you, will come and say to you: ‘Please give this person your place.’

“What shame is yours when you take the lowest seat! Whenever you are invited, go rather to the lowest seat, so that your host may come and say to you: ‘Friend, you must come up higher.’ And this will be a great honor for you in the presence of all the other guests. For whoever makes himself out to be great will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

“From presumption restrain your servant and let it not rule me. Then shall I be blameless, clean from grave sin” (Ps 19: 14) Yes, in both the Old and the New Testaments we have many admonitions against pride. Jesus shows especially his predilection for humility which we can observe in his life and in his teachings. Today, he observes the guests taking the places of honor, and he gives a simple lesson. The motive to be restrained from first places is very human. It is a matter of shame if another guest more important arrives after you and a matter of honor if you are at the lowest seat.

But beyond the case at the house of the Pharisee, can we imagine the distribution of places in the banquet of the wedding of the Lamb, in the House of the Father forever? Maybe, people who shone on earth, even in the Church, will find their eternal seat in a very modest seat and many humble and unknown saints will be placed near the mystical throne of the Father and the Lamb. After their obscure life on earth, the charity of their hearts will shine before all. Let us recall Jesus and Mary and follow their example of humility.