Bible Diary for August 13th – 19thBible Diary
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: 1 K 19:9a, 11-13a
On reaching the place, he came to the cave and stayed in it. Then the word of Yahweh came to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Then Yahweh said, “Go up and stand on the mount, waiting for Yahweh.” And Yahweh passed by.
There was first a windstorm, wild wind which rent the mountains and broke the rocks into pieces before Yahweh, but Yahweh was not in the wind. After the storm, an earthquake, but Yahweh was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, a fire, but Yahweh was not in the fire; after the fire, the murmur of a gentle breeze. When Elijah perceived it, he covered his face with his cloak, went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
Then he heard a voice addressing him again, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
2nd 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: Mt 14:22-33
Immediately, Jesus obliged his disciples to get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, while he sent the crowd away.
And having sent the people away, he went up the mountain by himself, to pray. At nightfall, he was there alone. Meanwhile, the boat was very far from land, dangerously rocked by the waves, for the wind was against it.
At daybreak, Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. When they saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, thinking that it was a ghost. And they cried out in fear. But at once, Jesus said to them, “Courage! Don’t be afraid. It’s me!” Peter answered, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
Jesus said to him, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water to go to Jesus. But seeing the strong wind, he was afraid, and began to sink; and he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately stretched out his hand and took hold of him, saying, “Man of little faith, why did you doubt?”
As they got into the boat, the wind dropped. Then those in the boat bowed down before Jesus, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God!”
Elijah receives a theophany different from what Moses had received. Paul expresses his deep missionary desire for his people to embrace the person of Christ. Jesus reaches out to the disciples in trouble, walking up to them on the water. We are confronted with two existential questions in today’s readings. In the first, Yahweh asks Elijah: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” In the Gospel, Jesus asks Peter: “Why did you doubt?” Elijah seemingly expected a grand theophany and a revelatory message from God; but God leads him to an examination of conscience by giving him an unexpected theophany and a probing question on his intentions. Jesus challenges the sudden loss of faith of Peter in the midst of turbulence. What would be God asking us when we meet Him face to face?
Let us ask God to probe our innermost being and lead us to conversion.
Spend some 30 minutes in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.
St. Maximilian Kolbe
1st Reading: Dt 10:12-22
So now, Israel, what is it that Yahweh, your God, asks of you but to fear him and follow all his ways? Love him and serve him with all your heart and with all your soul. Observe the commandments of Yahweh and his laws which I command you today, for your good.
See: the heavens, those that are seen and those that are unseen, the earth and all that is in it, everything belongs to Yahweh, your God. Nevertheless, it was on your fathers that Yahweh set his heart. He loved them, and after them, he chose their descendants—you—preferring you to all the peoples, as you can see this day.
Purify your hearts, then, and do not be defiant towards Yahweh because Yahweh is the God of gods and the Lord of lords. He is the great God, the strong and terrible God. When he judges, he treats everyone equally; he does not let himself be bought by gifts. He renders justice to the orphan and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him bread and clothing. Love the stranger then, because you yourselves were strangers in the land of Egypt. Fear Yahweh, your God, serve him, follow him and call on his name when you have to make an oath. He is your pride and he is your God, who has done those amazing things for you. When you went down to Egypt, your ancestors were no more than seventy persons, but now, Yahweh, your God, has made you as many as the stars of heaven.
Gospel: Mt 17:22-27
While Jesus was in Galilee with the Twelve, he said to them, “The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. But he will rise on the third day.” The Twelve were deeply grieved.
When they returned to Capernaum, the temple tax collectors came to Peter and asked him, “Does your master pay the temple tax?” He answered, “Yes.”
Peter then entered the house; and immediately, Jesus asked him, “What do you think, Simon? Who pay taxes or tribute to the kings of the earth: their sons or strangers and aliens?” Peter replied, “Strangers and aliens.” And Jesus told him, “The sons, then, are tax-free. But, so as not to offend these people, go to the sea, throw in a hook, and open the mouth of the first fish you catch. You will find a coin in it. Take the coin and give it to them for you and for me.”
It might help to recall that neither the king’s family nor Roman citizens pay Roman taxes. But citizens of nations subject to Rome had to pay Roman taxes. Jewish converts to Christianity were faced with a dilemma – were they obliged to pay the Temple tax? They have joined a new faith community although they still continued to meet and pray in the Temple. This Gospel story provides some answer or clarification to the dilemma. Jesus himself paid the Temple tax, although he was the Son of God and was exempt. Christians are encouraged to pay as Jesus did so as not to cause scandal. By doing so they would be giving a good example for other people to follow. Although they no longer have a moral obligation to pay Christians should be aware of the sensitivities of others. Paying the temple tax would likewise manifest respect for their ancestral heritage.
This serves to remind us that our criteria for doing something good should not be whether we have a moral obligation or not. It should be what love or charity asks of us. In making a decision a good Christian does not ask, what is the most practical or most convenient thing to do? Rather he/she asks, what is the most loving thing to do in this situation?
Assumption of Blessed Mary the Virgin
1st Reading: Rev 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab
Then, the Sanctuary of God, in the heavens, was opened, and the Ark of the Covenant of God could be seen inside the Sanctuary. There were flashes of lightning, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and a violent hailstorm.
A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman, clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant, and cried out in pain, looking to her time of delivery.
Then, another sign appeared: a huge, red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and wearing seven crowns on its heads. It had just swept along a third of the stars of heaven with its tail, throwing them down to the earth.
The dragon stood in front of the woman, who was about to give birth, so that, it might devour the child as soon as it was born. She gave birth to a male child, the one who is to rule all the nations with an iron scepter; then, her child was seized, and taken up to God, and to his throne, while the woman fled to the desert, where God had prepared a place for her; there, she would be looked after, for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
Then, I heard a loud voice from heaven: Now has salvation come, with the power and the kingdom of our God, and the rule of his anointed. For our brothers’ accuser has been cast out, who accused them night and day, before God.
2nd Reading: 1 Cor 15:20-27
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. As Scripture says: God has subjected everything under his feet.
When we say that everything is put under his feet, we exclude, of course, the Father, who subjects everything to him.
Gospel: Lk 1:39-56
Mary then set out for a town in the hill country of Judah. She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leapt in her womb. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and, giving a loud cry, said, “You are most blessed among women; and blessed is the fruit of your womb! How is it, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby within me suddenly leapt for joy. Blessed are you, who believed that the Lord’s word would come true!”
And Mary said,
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God, my savior!
He has looked upon his servant, in her lowliness, and people, forever, will call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me, Holy is his Name!
From age to age, his mercy extends to those who live in his presence.
He has acted with power and done wonders, and scattered the proud with their plans. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and lifted up those who are downtrodden. He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty.
He held out his hand to Israel, his servant, for he remembered his mercy, even as he promised to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.”
Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months, and then returned home.
Because the Gospels do not contain an account of the Assumption of our Lady we have the texts about her visit to Elizabeth and her great hymn of thanksgiving, the Magnificat. It reminds us that all the honor we give to Mary redounds to God, who has done marvelous things for her.
This feast celebrates Mary’s going up to the heavens. The doctrine tells us that it was only fitting that the Mother of our Lord, “when the course of her earthly life was finished, [should be] taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven.” This teaching invites us to nurture in our hearts a deep hope of heaven. We must look at Mary, not as someone totally different from us and far above us, but as one of us who has succeeded and now shows us the way. This feast is not meant to frustrate us by making heaven feel remote, but to encourage us to see it as really possible, even probable (with God’s help). Sanctity or holiness is for everyone and heaven is meant to begin now. Mary did not become a saint on the day God took her to heaven. She became a saint when she said yes to God through an angel; when she visited the pregnant Elizabeth in her home; when she did the household chores and took care of her family’s needs; when she stood by her dying Son at the foot of the Cross. We can easily identify with Mary in these things. We hope and pray that we may grow in her likeness.
St. Stephen of Hungary
1st Reading: Dt 34:1-12
From the barren plain of Moab, Moses went up to Mount Nebo, to the summit of Pisgah, opposite Jericho. And Yahweh showed him all the Land: from Gilead to Dan, the whole of Naphtali, the land of Ephraim, and of Manasseh, the whole land of Judah, as far as the Western Sea, the Negeb, the Plains, the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. And Yahweh said to him: “This is the land about which I swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, promising it to their descendants. I have let you see it with your own eyes, but you shall not enter it.”
Moses, the servant of God, died there in the land of Moab, according to the will of Yahweh. They buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but to this very day, no one knows where his tomb is.
Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died. He did not lose his vigor and his eyes still saw clearly. The children of Israel mourned for him in the plains of Moab for thirty days. But Joshua, son of Nun, was full of the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands upon him. The children of Israel obeyed him and did as Yahweh had commanded Moses.
No prophet like Moses has appeared again. Yahweh conversed with him face to face. What signs and wonders he worked in Egypt against Pharaoh, against his people and all his land! He displayed great power and awesome might in view of all Israel!
Gospel: Mt 18:15-20
If your brother has sinned against you, go and point out the fault to him, when the two of you are alone; and if he listens to you, you have won back your brother. If he doesn’t listen to you, take with you one or two others, so that the case may be decided by the evidence of two or three witnesses. And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the assembled Church. But if he does not listen to the Church, then regard him as a pagan, or a tax collector. I say to you: whatever you bind on earth, heaven will keep bound; and whatever you unbind on earth, heaven will keep unbound. In like manner, I say to you, if, on earth, two of you agree in asking for anything, it will be granted to you by my heavenly Father for where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there, among them.”
In the community of believers we are not to tolerate divisions or discords because it is a contradiction to the nature of being Church, that is, communion. The healing process is of vital importance and should never be deferred or delayed. Excommunication or expulsion should be a last resort.
A very useful and practical way to preserve harmony within the Christian community is fraternal correction. In reality, however, this is easier said than done. Because we are afraid that it will worsen the situation we choose to talk about it with other people. Other times our pride holds us back from reconciling with our enemies. Jesus teaches us how to restore harmony in the community. The offended party has to take the initiative to go privately to the offender and discuss the matter. Only if the first step fails that a third party is consulted – first another person, then the Church community.
This gospel text about the process of reconciliation that Jesus suggests to be adopted by every Christian community is reflective of the practice of the Early Church. This is a structured way of dealing with conflicts and controversies. It represents the Early Christians’ interpretation of Jesus’ teaching on the readiness to forgive and testify to the God of mercy and compassion.
1st Reading: Jos 3:7-10a, 11, 13-17
Then Yahweh said to Joshua: “Today I will begin to make you great in the eyes of Israel and they shall know that I am with you as I was with Moses. Give this order to the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant: As soon as you come to the banks of the Jordan, stand still in the river.” And Joshua said to the Israelites: “Come nearer and listen to the words of Yahweh, our God. Do you want a sign that Yahweh, the living God, is in your midst, he who drives away before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, as well as the Girgashites, Jebusites and Amorites? See, the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of all the earth is going to cross the Jordan before you. When the priests who carry the Ark of the Lord of all the earth put their feet into the water of the Jordan, the water coming from upstream shall stop flowing and stand in one single mass.”
When the people set out from their camp to cross the Jordan, the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant went before them. There was much water in the Jordan, for it was overflowing its banks at this time of the barley harvest. Nevertheless, when those who carried the Ark went down to the river and their feet touched the edge of the water, the water from upstream stopped flowing.
The water stood still, forming something like a dam very far from that place, near Adam, the neighboring city of Zarethan. The water flowing down to the Dead Sea was completely cut off, and so the people could cross opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant remained in the middle of the river which dried up, until all the Israelites had crossed the Jordan.
Gospel: Mt 18:21—19:1
Then Peter asked him, “Lord, how many times must I forgive the offenses of my brother or sister? Seven times?” Jesus answered, “No, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
This story throws light on the kingdom of Heaven: A king decided to settle accounts with his servants. Among the first of them was one who owed him ten thousand pieces of gold. As the man could not repay the debt, the king commanded that he be sold as a slave with his wife, his children and all his goods, as repayment.
The servant threw himself at the feet of the king and said, ‘Give me time, and I will pay you back everything.’ The king took pity on him, and not only set him free, but even cancelled his debt.
When this servant left the king’s presence, he met one of his fellow servants, who owed him a hundred pieces of silver. He grabbed him by the throat and almost choked him, shouting, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ His fellow servant threw himself at his feet and begged him, ‘Give me time, and I will pay everything.’ But the other did not agree, and sent him to prison until he had paid all his debt.
Now the servants of the king saw what had happened. They were extremely upset, and so they went and reported everything to their lord. Then the lord summoned his servant and said, ‘Wicked servant, I forgave you all that you owed me when you begged me to do so. Weren’t you bound to have pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ The lord was now angry. He handed the wicked servant over to be punished, until he had paid the whole debt.”
Jesus added, “So will my heavenly Father do with you, unless you sincerely forgive your brothers and sisters.”
When Jesus had finished these sayings, he left Galilee and arrived at the border of Judea, on the other side of the Jordan River.
As the Lord’s community of disciples faithfully following his way of generous love and selfless service, we are called to be reconcilers. We are thus called to be generous with forgiveness. We are not to put a limit to our capacity to forgive. “Not seven times but seventy times seven times.”
All of us are sinners, and the only way we can get to heaven is through the mercy of God. Our hope is that when God will judge us, He will show us his mercy and grant us forgiveness. Receiving God’s mercy, however, hinges on our readiness to show mercy to others. “Blessed are the merciful. God will be merciful to them” (Matthew 5:7).
Jesus’ statement, “I forgave you the whole amount you owed me, just because you asked me to. You should have had mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you,” suggests that we cannot expect to receive something that we are unwilling to share.
1st Reading: Jos 24:1-13
Joshua summoned all the tribes of Israel in Shechem, and assembled the elders, leaders, judges and secretaries. And together they presented themselves before God.
Addressing the people, Joshua said to them: “Yahweh, the God of Israel, commands me to say to you: Your ancestors lived beyond the Euphrates River—Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor—serving other gods. But I brought Abraham your father from beyond the Euphrates and led him through the whole land of Canaan. Then I gave him a son Isaac, that he might have numerous descendants. And to Isaac, I gave two sons: Esau and Jacob. Esau received the mountains of Seir as his inheritance, while Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt.
Then I sent Moses and Aaron to punish Egypt in the way that you know, that you might leave. Then I brought your ancestors out of Egypt and you came to the sea. The Egyptians pursued you with chariots and horses as far as the Red Sea. Then you cried to Yahweh, and he put immense darkness between you and the Egyptians. He made the sea go back on them and they were drowned. You have witnessed all the things he did in Egypt, and then you lived in the desert for a long time. Then I brought you to the land of the Amorites who were on the east of the Jordan. You fought them but it was I who gave them into your hand; you destroyed them and you seized their lands.
Balak, the son of Zippor, king of Moab, declared war on Israel and commanded Balaam son of Beor to curse you. But I would not listen to him, so Balaam blessed you and I saved you from the hands of Balak.
Then you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. And the landlords of Jericho fought against you: the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites declared war on you, but I gave them to you. The two Amorite kings fled from you because of the swarm of hornets that attacked them and not be cause of your sword and bow. I gave you lands which you have not tilled, cities which you did not build but in which you now live. I gave you vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant but from which you now eat.
Gospel: Mt 19:3-12
Some Pharisees approached him. They wanted to test him and asked, “Is a man allowed to divorce his wife for any reason he wants?”
Jesus replied, “Have you not read, that, in the beginning, the Creator made them male and female? And the Creator said: Therefore, a man shall leave father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one body. So, they are no longer two, but one body. Let no one separate what God has joined.”
They asked him, “Then why did Moses command us to write a bill of dismissal in order to divorce?” Jesus replied, “Moses knew the hardness of your hearts, so he allowed you to divorce your wives; but it was not so in the beginning. Therefore, I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, unless it be for immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
The disciples said, “If that is the condition of a married man, it is better not to marry.” Jesus said to them, “Not everybody can accept what you have just said, but only those who have received this gift. There are eunuchs born so, from their mother’s womb. Some have been made that way by others. But there are some who have given up the possibility of marriage, for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who can accept it, accept it.”
In today’s Gospel text Jesus affirms this original vision and regardless of the seeming impossibility of marital fidelity, he puts the highest priority on preserving the covenantal bond between husband and wife more than the comfort of the spouses or the pragmatism of divorce. Jesus’ priority must also be ours.
To the modern mind it might be considered “politically incorrect” to hold the conviction that God never intended divorce or same-sex marriage. But what the Church teaches is simply an echo of what the Lord Jesus teaches. Nothing more, nothing less. Marriage is no mere human institution. God himself seals the covenant made by the husband and wife. Monogamy was God’s will from the beginning. Divorce was only a concession. The Lord says, it was allowed by Moses because of people’s “stubbornness” or “sinfulness.” The right thing to do is to return to God’s original plan: “Let no man separate what God has joined” (v. 6).
Celibacy, though not meant for all, is a praiseworthy state especially when it is undertaken for the sake of the kingdom of God. It is a striking challenge to the materialism and secularistic values of the modern world.
St. John Eudes
1st Reading: Jos 24:14-29
So fear Yahweh, and be sincere and faithful in serving him. Set aside those gods your ancestors worshiped in Mesopotamia and Egypt. Serve only Yahweh. But if you do not want to serve Yahweh, make known this very day whom you shall serve—whether they be the gods your ancestors served in Mesopotamia or the gods of the Amorites who formerly occupied the land in which you now live. As for me, I and my household will serve Yahweh.”
The people answered: “May God not permit that we ever abandon Yahweh to serve other gods! For it was he who brought us and our ancestors out of Egypt, the house of slavery. It was he who did those great wonders that we have seen; he protected us on the way and through all the land where we passed, driving away before us all the nations especially the Amorites who lived in this land. So we shall also serve Yahweh: he is our God!”
Joshua asked the people: “Will you be able to serve Yahweh? He is a holy God, a jealous God who does not tolerate wickedness or faults.
Gospel: Mt 19:13-15
Then little children were brought to Jesus, that he might lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded those who brought them. Jesus then said, “Let the children be! Don’t hinder them from coming to me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are humble, like these children.” Jesus laid his hands on them and went away.
There is something unusual here in Jesus’ teaching and action. He invites to himself the little children who were of least consequence and with no powerful standing in society, proposes them as models for human behavior especially in receiving the Kingdom of God. We are aware that in the Jewish culture during the time of Jesus, children were not taken seriously. They were not given the respect and esteem that they deserved. By presenting them as exemplars for how to receive the kingdom, Jesus was in effect recognizing the positive qualities or virtues exhibited by young children such as humility, docility, transparency/honesty and obedience – among others.
Jesus’ teaching and action favoring innocent children serves as an encouragement for most of us. Even though we might feel inferior to everyone else, Jesus tells us we are worth a billion in God’s sight. That should give enough self-esteem and self-confidence. We are loved and “small people” like us have a place in the kingdom of heaven. At the same time, the respect for children and their ability to symbolize the proper approach to the kingdom of God seems particularly important in view of recent revelations about child abuse. Abuse of children is rooted in a lack of respect and appreciation of their worth. It might help to keep in mind always that there is so much that innocent little children can teach us.