Bible Diary for August 6th – 12thBible Diary
Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord
1st Reading: Dn 7:9-10, 13-14
I looked and saw the following: Some thrones were set in place and One of Great Age took his seat. His robe was white, as snow, his hair, white as washed wool. His throne was flames of fire with wheels of blazing fire. A river of fire sprang forth and flowed before him. Thousands upon thousands served him and a countless multitude stood before him.
Those in the tribunal took their seats and opened the book.
I continued watching the nocturnal vision:
One like a son of man came on the clouds of heaven. He faced the One of Great Age and was brought into his presence.
Dominion, honor and kingship were given him, and all the peoples and nations of every language served him. His dominion is eternal and shall never pass away; his kingdom will never be destroyed.
2nd Reading: 2 Pt 1:16-19
Indeed, what we taught you about the power, and the return of Christ Jesus our Lord, was not drawn from myths or formulated theories. We, ourselves, were eyewitnesses of is majesty, when he received glory and honor from God, the Father, when, from the magnificent glory, this most extraordinary word came upon him: “This is my beloved Son, this is my Chosen One.” We, ourselves, heard this voice from heaven, when we were with him on the holy mountain.
Gospel: Mt 17:1-9
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James, and his brother John, and led them up a high mountain, where they were alone. Jesus’ appearance was changed before them: his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as snow. Then suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Jesus.
Peter spoke up and said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
Peter was still speaking, when a bright cloud covered them with its shadow; and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, my Chosen One. Listen to him.“
On hearing the voice, the disciples fell to the ground, full of fear. But Jesus came, touched them, and said, “Stand up, do not be afraid!” When they raised their eyes, they no longer saw anyone except Jesus. And as they came down the mountain, Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man be raised from the dead.
On this feast of Transfiguration, we are presented with Daniel’s vision of the grandeur of God and the apostles’ vision of the glory of Christ. In his letter, Peter recalls the experience and attests to its authenticity. God is mysterium tremendum, a tremendous mystery that evokes holy fear in those who glimpse it. Isaiah (6:1-5) experienced this and was stunned. But Peter and his friends experienced tremendous joy and love at the sight of transfigured Christ. In the incarnate Christ, the fear-evoking tremendous mystery becomes deeply lovable and approachable. Let us hold both dimensions of God’s mystery and not lose either of them–the mystery that evokes holy fear and holy love.
Pray for a share in Christ’s transfiguration.
Transfigure a human life today by feeding a hungry child or forgiving an enemy.
St. Sixtus II and Companions
1st Reading: Num 11:4b-15
Now the rabble that was among them had greedy desires and even the Israelites wept and said, “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish we ate without cost in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions and garlic. Now our appetite is gone; there’s nothing to look at, nothing but manna.”
Now the manna was like coriander seed and had the appearance of bedellium. The people went about gathering it up and then ground it between millstones or pounded it in a mortar. They boiled it in a pot and made cakes with it which tasted like cakes made with oil. As soon as dew fell at night in the camp, the manna came with it. Moses heard the people crying, family by family at the entrance to their tent and Yahweh became very angry. This displeased Moses. Then Moses said to Yahweh, “Why have you treated your servant so badly? Is it because you do not love me that you burdened me with this people? Did I conceive all these people and did I give them birth? And now you want me to carry them in my bosom as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their fathers? Where would I get meat for all these people, when they cry to me saying: ‘Give us meat that we may eat?’ I cannot, myself alone, carry all these people; the burden is too heavy for me. Kill me rather than treat me like this, I beg of you, if you look kindly on me, and let me not see your anger.”
Gospel: Mt 14:13-21
When Jesus hear of it, he set out by boat for a secluded place, to be alone. But the people heard of it, and they followed him on foot from their towns. When Jesus went ashore, he saw the crowd gathered there, and he had compassion on them. And he healed their sick. Late in the afternoon, his disciples came to him and said, “We are in a lonely place and it is now late. You should send these people away, so that they can go to the villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” But Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat.” They answered, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fishes.” Jesus said to them, “Bring them here to me.” Then he made everyone sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves and the two fishes, raised his eyes to heaven, pronounced the blessing, broke the loaves, and handed them to the disciples to distribute to the people. And they all ate, and everyone had enough; then the disciples gathered up the leftovers, filling twelve baskets. About five thousand men had eaten there, besides women and children.
“He had compassion on them.” It was compassion (mercy) that moved Jesus to forego his own needs so that he can teach the people, feed them and heal their infirmities. He desired that the disciples have the same attitude when he commanded them, “you give them something to eat.” He did not accept their practical solution to simply send the people away and have them look for their own food. A compassionate person would not run away from responsibility or getting personally involved in looking for solutions to problems.
One alibi that people come up with to avoid getting personally involved in helping others is that they hardly have enough. They rationalize their unwillingness to help by saying it is not their fault that some people are starving. Jesus does not accept this line of reasoning. With the miraculous multiplication of the loaves and fishes he taught the disciples that “little becomes much when you generously share and joyfully place them in the Master’s hands.”
The feeding of the more than five thousand people is an image of the kingdom of God. Everyone is called to partake of the banquet and it is for free. Everyone is called to share whatever little he or she has, place it in the hands of Jesus. He in turn will bless what is shared and will see to it that everybody’s needs are met. And there will still be plenty of leftovers.
1st Reading: Num 12:1-13
Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman he had married and they said, “Has Yahweh only spoken through Moses? Has he not also spoken through us?” And Yahweh heard.
Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than any man on the face of the earth. Yet suddenly Yahweh said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, “Come out, all three of you, to the tent of meeting.” The three of them came out.
Yahweh came down in the pillar of cloud and, standing at the door of the Tent, called Aaron and Miriam. They both went out and he said, “Listen carefully to what I say, If there is a prophet among you, I reveal myself to him in a vision and I speak to him in a dream. It is not so for my servant, Moses, my trusted steward in all my household. To him I speak face to face, openly, and not in riddles, and he sees the presence of Yahweh. Why then did you not fear to speak against my servant, against Moses?”
Yahweh became angry with them and he departed. The cloud moved away from above the Tent and Miriam was there white as snow with leprosy. Aaron turned towards Miriam and he saw that she was leprous. And he said to Moses, “My lord, I beg you, do not charge us with this sin that we have foolishly committed. Let her not be like the stillborn whose flesh is half-eaten when it comes from its mother’s womb.” Then Moses cried to Yahweh, “Heal her, O God, I beg of you.
Gospel: Mt 14:22-36 (or Mt 15:1-2, 10-14)
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!”
They came ashore at Gennesaret. The local people recognized Jesus and spread the news throughout the region. So they brought to him all the sick people, begging him to let them touch just the hem of his cloak. All who touched it became perfectly well.
Jesus’ disciples are criticized by the Pharisees for not strictly observing customary laws and rituals particularly that of purification, i.e., washing their hands before eating. The Pharisees believe that their non-observance of these legal prescriptions automatically makes them less religious. It can also be taken to mean they lack respect for the Law and Sacred Scriptures. Jesus takes the occasion to make a clarification that “what defiles a person is not what enters into his mouth but what comes out of his mouth.”
Sin is not found in what one eats but in the person’s abuse of the gift of speech. By saying this Jesus is in effect saying that what needs purification, first and foremost is the interior or the heart of a person. External purification should mirror the internal cleansing that preceded it. External purification is a sham and does not make sense unless the person is interiorly clean. It could also be taken to mean that for Christians the choice and amount of food intake should never be a matter to be morally disputed about except perhaps for health benefits or otherwise.
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
1st Reading: Num 13:1-2, 25–14:1, 26a-29a, 34-35
The LORD said to Moses [in the desert of Paran,]
“Send men to reconnoiter the land of Canaan,
which I am giving the children of Israel.
You shall send one man from each ancestral tribe,
all of them princes.”
After reconnoitering the land for forty days they returned,
met Moses and Aaron and the whole congregation of the children of Israel
in the desert of Paran at Kadesh,
made a report to them all,
and showed the fruit of the country
to the whole congregation.
They told Moses: “We went into the land to which you sent us.
It does indeed flow with milk and honey, and here is its fruit.
However, the people who are living in the land are fierce,
and the towns are fortified and very strong.
Besides, we saw descendants of the Anakim there.
Amalekites live in the region of the Negeb;
Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites dwell in the highlands,
and Canaanites along the seacoast and the banks of the Jordan.”
Caleb, however, to quiet the people toward Moses, said,
“We ought to go up and seize the land, for we can certainly do so.”
But the men who had gone up with him said,
“We cannot attack these people; they are too strong for us.”
So they spread discouraging reports among the children of Israel
about the land they had scouted, saying,
“The land that we explored is a country that consumes its inhabitants.
And all the people we saw there are huge, veritable giants
(the Anakim were a race of giants);
we felt like mere grasshoppers, and so we must have seemed to them.”
At this, the whole community broke out with loud cries,
and even in the night the people wailed.
The LORD said to Moses and Aaron:
“How long will this wicked assembly grumble against me?
I have heard the grumblings of the children of Israel against me.
Tell them: By my life, says the LORD,
I will do to you just what I have heard you say.
Here in the desert shall your dead bodies fall.
Forty days you spent in scouting the land;
forty years shall you suffer for your crimes:
one year for each day.
Thus you will realize what it means to oppose me.
I, the LORD, have sworn to do this
to all this wicked assembly that conspired against me:
here in the desert they shall die to the last man.”
Gospel: Mt 15:21-28
Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from the area, came and cried out, “Lord, Son of David, have pity on me! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But Jesus did not answer her, not even a word. So his disciples approached him and said, “Send her away! See how she is shouting after us.”
Then Jesus said to her, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the nation of Israel.”
But the woman was already kneeling before Jesus, and said, “Sir, help me!” Jesus answered, “It is not right to take the bread from the children and throw it to puppies.” The woman replied, “That is true, sir, but even puppies eat the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said, “Woman, how great is your faith! Let it be as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
The Canaanite woman can teach us a lot about how we are to pray especially when we want to ask a special favor from the Lord. The woman had great faith that even impressed Jesus. She was convinced that Jesus could do it and he would not refuse her wish. She was persevering in prayer that she would not take no for an answer, never gave in to discouragement in spite of the seemingly upsetting remarks of Jesus. One can readily see her genuine love for her daughter that she did not mind approaching Jesus although she knew she did not have the right to do so because she was non-Jewish. She did not mind what seem to be discriminatory remarks – “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the nation of Israel…” “…it is not right to take the bread from the children and throw it to puppies.” She loved her daughter so much that she was ready to do anything just to have her get well.
The story also reminds us how, like Jesus, we must be ecumenical and mission-oriented. By acceding to the request of the Canaanite Jesus somehow gave the signal that the blessings of the Kingdom are not solely for the “children of Israel” but meant for all the children of God. Recipients of our charity and works of mercy are not to be limited to members of our Christian communities but for anyone who is in need, regardless of color, creed or affiliation.
1st Reading: 2 Cor 9:6-10
Remember: the one who sows meagerly will reap meagerly, and there shall be generous harvests for the one who sows generously. Each of you should give as you decided personally, and not reluctantly, as if obliged. God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to fill you with every good thing, so that you have enough of everything, at all times, and may give abundantly for any good work.
Scripture says: He distributed, he gave to the poor, his good works last forever. God, who provides the sower with seed, will also provide him with the bread he eats. He will multiply the seed for you and also increase the interest on your good works.
Gospel: Jn 12:24-26
Truly, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Those who love their life destroy it, and those who despise their life in this world save it even to everlasting life.
Whoever wants to serve me, let him follow me; and wherever I am, there shall my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
The great paradox of life is expressed in the words of Jesus, “unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” It is only when we die to our selfishness and let ourselves nurture or nourish other people can we lead meaningful lives. Lives that are generously offered and shared effectively inspire others to follow their example. In effect, these lives are multiplied as they bear fruits of righteousness and virtue.
Jesus gave us the ultimate example of a life offered for and shared to others. His death has produced much fruit – the forgiveness of sins, salvation or new life for the world. His death and resurrection has made it possible for us to be made children of God.
The lives of martyrs can be seen in the same light. By shedding their blood for the sake of their faith in Jesus Christ, they have given powerful witnessing for the rest of Christians to emulate. We have so much evidence of this in the history of the Church. The qualitative and quantitative growth of the Church in any country is closely linked to the number of martyrs who shed their blood for the faith. Truly, “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the faith.”
1st Reading: Dt 4:32-40
Ask of the times past. Inquire from the day when God created man on earth. Ask from one end of the world to the other: Has there ever been anything as extraordinary as this? Has anything like this been heard of before? Has there ever been a people who remained alive after hearing as did the voice of the living God from the midst of the fire?
Never has there been a God who went out to look for a people and take them out from among the other nations by the strength of trials and signs, by wonders and by war, with a firm hand and an outstretched arm. Never has there been any deed as tremendous as those done for you by Yahweh in Egypt, which you saw with your own eyes.
You saw this that you might know that Yahweh is God and that there is no other besides him. He let you hear his voice from heaven that you might fear him; on earth he let you see his blazing fire and from the midst of the fire you heard his word. Because of the love he had for your fathers, he chose their descendants after them, and he himself made you leave Egypt with his great power. He expelled before you peoples more numerous and stronger than you, and he has made you occupy their land: today he has given this to you as an inheritance. Therefore, try to be convinced that Yahweh is the only God of heaven and earth, and that there is no other.
Observe the laws and the commandments that I command you today, and everything will be well with you and your children after you. So you will live long in the land which Yahweh, your God, gives you forever.”
Gospel: Mt 16:24-28
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If you want to follow me, deny yourself. Take up your cross and follow me. For whoever chooses to save his life will lose it, but the one who loses his life, for my sake, will find it. What will one gain by winning the whole world, if he destroys his soul? Or what can a person give, in exchange for his life?
Know, that the Son of Man will come, in the glory of his Father with the holy angels, and he will reward each one according to his deeds. Truly, I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death, before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Following Jesus demands that we meet some conditions: “deny oneself,” “take up one’s cross” and “follow him.” Denying oneself could mean having to let go of our worldly desire for material riches, power, fame or prestige. The idea of taking up a cross doesn’t seem very appealing. The cross is symbolic of the sufferings and inconveniences we have to endure on account of our state in life or mission. Suffering is inevitable but what is being demanded of the disciples is to follow the example of Jesus. Doing the will of God is hard, and involves suffering. Following the example of Jesus is a real challenge. His teaching to do the right thing and to love our neighbor can be risky because loving can require sacrifice on our part.
What can we gain by denying ourselves, taking up our crosses and following Jesus? Everything we need to have a life of meaning, joy and fulfillment. This is what it means to “lose one’s his life for Christ’s sake in order to find it.” Meaning and fulfillment cannot be found in material things in this material world. As Saint Augustine once exclaimed: “You have made us for yourself O God… our souls are restless until they rest in you…”
St. Jane Frances de Chantal
1st Reading: Dt 6:4-13
Listen, Israel: Yahweh, our God, is One Yahweh. And you shall love Yahweh, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength. Engrave on your heart the commandments that I pass on to you today. Repeat them over and over to your children, speak of them when you are at home and when you travel, when you lie down and when you rise. Brand them on your hand as a sign, and keep them always before your eyes. Engrave them on your doorposts and on your city gates.
Do not forget Yahweh when he has led you into the land which he promised to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; for he will give you great and prosperous cities which you did not build, houses filled with everything good which you did not provide, wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant. So when you have eaten and have been satisfied, do not forget Yahweh who brought you out from Egypt where you were enslaved. Fear Yahweh, your God, serve him and call on his Name when you have to swear an oath.
Gospel: Mt 17:14-20
When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus, knelt before him and said, “Sir, have pity on my son, who is an epileptic and suffers terribly. He has often fallen into the fire, and at other times into the water. I brought him to your disciples but they could not heal him.”
Jesus replied, “O you people, faithless and misled! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” And Jesus commanded the evil spirit to leave the boy, and the boy was immediately healed.
Later, the disciples approached Jesus and asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive out the spirit?” Jesus said to them, “Because you have little faith. I say to you: if only you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could tell that mountain to move from here to there, and the mountain would obey. Nothing would be impossible for you.
It is quite clear in the ministry of Jesus that faith is a necessary condition for a miraculous healing. Genuine and strong faith must be manifested by the healer and the one being healed, or at least by the one asking for a miracle. In today’s Gospel story the disciples did not seem to have the kind of deep-hearted faith that would give them the power to drive out the evil spirit which possessed the boy. Jesus was somewhat disappointed by the disciples’ lack of genuine faith in God and in what they were capable of doing in his name.
If they were to continue the ministry of Jesus to heal and exorcise evil spirits, he speaks of the need for the disciples to have a faith that can move mountains. Faith is more than an intellectual assent to ideas, concepts or teachings. It is a relationship with God based on trust. This is accompanied by a confidence filled with certainty that “God will always give us what we need, protect us from evil and lead us to life everlasting.” The presence of a profound faith in God will enable the believer to do even the humanly impossible including “moving mountains.”