Bible Diary for December 17th – 23rdBible Diary
Third Sunday of Advent
1st Reading: Is 61:1-2a, 10-11
The spirit of the Lord Yahweh is upon me, because Yahweh has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up broken hearts, to proclaim liberty to the captives, freedom to those languishing in prison; to announce the year of Yahweh‘s favor and the day of vengeance of our God; to give comfort to all who grieve.
I rejoice greatly in Yahweh, my soul exults for joy in my God, for he has clothed me in the garments of his salvation, he has covered me with the robe of his righteousness, like a bridegroom wearing a garland, like a bride adorned with jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its growth, and as a garden makes seeds spring up, so will the Lord Yahweh make justice and praise spring up in the sight of all nations.
2nd Reading: 1 Thes 5:16-24
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks to God at every moment. This is the will of God, your vocation as Christians.
Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise the prophets‘ warnings. Put everything to the test and hold fast to what is good. Avoid evil, wherever it may be.
May the God of peace make you holy and bring you to perfection. May you be completely blameless, in spirit, soul and body, till the coming of Christ Jesus, our Lord; he who called you is faithful and will do it.
Gospel: Jn 1:6-8, 19-28
A man came, sent by God; his name was John.
He came to bear witness, as a witness to introduce the Light, so that all might believe through him.
He was not the Light, but a witness to introduce the Light;
This was the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites to ask him, “Who are you?“ John recognized the truth, and did not deny it. He said, “I am not the Messiah.“
And they asked him, “Then who are you? Elijah?“ He answered, “I am not.“ They said, “Are you the Prophet?“ And he answered, “No.“ Then they said to him, “Tell us who you are, so that we can give some answer to those who sent us. How do you see yourself?“ And John said, quoting the prophet Isaiah, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord!“
Those who had been sent were Pharisees; and they put a further question to John, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are not the Messiah, or Elijah, or the Prophet?“ John answered, “I baptize you with water, but among you stands one whom you do not know; although he comes after me, I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandal.“
This happened in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
The Gaudete Sunday, where anticipation of the advent of the Lord fills everyone with joy. Isaiah delights in the mission and the promise of salvation given to him by the Lord. Paul gives a three-pronged commandment: rejoice, give thanks, and pray always. John the Baptist reveals his identity and mission before the people. True joy is possible only when one honestly accepts God-given identity and mission, and avoid comparing oneself with others. If John the Baptist were an insecure man, he could have grabbed the many identities attributed to him by others; but he didn‘t. He knew that he was not the Sun, but only a satellite. And in acknowledging it and refusing to be something other than what he is and meant to be, lay his joy and the lightness of being.
Pray for the gift of self-awareness and self-acceptance.
Dine with your family today, joyfully accepting and affirming the being of each member.
1st Reading: Jer 23:5-8
Yahweh further says, “The day is coming when I will raise up a king who is David‘s righteous successor. He will rule wisely and govern with justice and righteousness. That will be a grandiose era when Judah will enjoy peace and Israel will live in safety. He will be called Yahweh-our-justice!“
“The days are coming,“ says Yahweh, “when people shall no longer swear by Yahweh as the living God who freed the people of Israel from the land of Egypt. Rather, they will swear by Yahweh as the living God who restored the descendants of Israel from the northern empire and from all the lands where he had driven them, to live again in their own land!“
Gospel: Mt 1:18-25
This is how Jesus Christ was born: Mary his mother had been given to Joseph in marriage, but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.
Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to disgrace her.
While he was pondering over this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a son. You shall call him ‘Jesus‘ for he will save his people from their sins.“
All this happened in order to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet: The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and he will be called Emmanuel, which means: God-with us. When Joseph awoke, he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do, and he took his wife to his home. He did not have any marital relations with her. When she gave birth to a son, Joseph gave him the name Jesus.
In our world today, beset by poverty, violence, environmental destruction, infidelity, and indifference, people can easily become desperately fearful and paranoid. Yes, fear is part of human life. But if we do not learn to overcome it, we become paralyzed and lose our trust in life and in the saving power of God. Fear makes us unable to recognize God‘s gifts in us and our capacity to move on and live.
Christmas is special day to look forward to. This feast is our assurance that God is with us and among us in Jesus. Even if God allows adversary to cross our journey, He never ceases to be present in all the events of our life. Even if we sinned, God still loves us. Hindi tayo niya ititiwalag. As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, let us also not forget to share the gift of faith to others especially to those who are unable to recognize His saving presence of God in our midst. May we be the bearers of God‘s life-giving love.
1st Reading: Jdg 13:2-7, 24-25a
There was a man of Zorah of the tribe of Dan, called Manoah. His wife could not bear children. The angel of Yahweh appeared to this woman and said to her, “You have not borne children and have not given birth, but see, you are to conceive and give birth to a son. Because of this, take care not to take wine or any alcoholic drink, nor to eat unclean foods from now on, for you shall bear a son who shall be a Nazirite of Yahweh from the womb of his mother. Never shall his hair be cut for he is consecrated to Yahweh. He shall begin the liberation of the Israelites from the Philistine oppression.”
The woman went to her husband and told him, “A messenger of God who bore the majesty of an angel spoke to me. I did not ask him where he came from nor did he tell me his name.
But he said to me: ‘You are to conceive and give birth to a son. Henceforth, you shall not drink wine or fermented drinks, nor eat anything unclean, for your son shall be a Nazirite of God from the womb of his mother until the day of his death.’”
The woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson. The boy grew and Yahweh blessed him. Then the Spirit of Yahweh began to move him when he was in Mahane Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.
Gospel: Lk 1:5-25
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there lived a priest named Zechariah, belonging to the priestly clan of Abiah. Elizabeth, Zechariah’s wife, also belonged to a priestly family. Both of them were upright in the eyes of God, and lived blamelessly, in accordance with all the laws and commands of the Lord, but they had no child. Elizabeth could not have any and now they were both very old.
Now, while Zechariah and those with him were fulfilling their office, it fell to him by lot, according to the custom of the priests, to enter the Sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. At the time of offering incense, all the people were praying outside; it was then, that an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. On seeing the angel, Zechariah was deeply troubled and fear took hold of him.
But the angel said to him, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah, be assured that your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son and you shall name him John. He will bring joy and gladness to you, and many will rejoice at his birth.
This son of yours will be great in the eyes of the Lord. Listen: he shall never drink wine or strong drink; but he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb. Through him, many of the people of Israel will turn to the Lord their God. He, himself, will open the way to the Lord, with the spirit and power of the prophet Elijah; he will reconcile fathers and children; and lead the disobedient to wisdom and righteousness, in order to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I believe this? I am an old man and my wife is elderly, too.” The angel replied, “I am Gabriel, who stands before God; and I am the one sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news! My words will come true in their time. But you would not believe; and now, you will be silent and unable to speak until this has happened.”
Meanwhile, the people waited for Zechariah; and they were surprised that he delayed so long in the Sanctuary. When he finally appeared, he could not speak to them; and they realized that he had seen a vision in the Sanctuary. He remained dumb and made signs to them.
When his time of service was completed, Zechariah returned home; and, some time later, Elizabeth became pregnant. For five months she kept to herself, remaining at home, and thinking, “This, for me, is the Lord’s doing! This is his time for mercy, and for taking away my public disgrace.”
A family of 12, one member can easily be forgotten of busy parents. A child‘s request is sometimes unintentionally neglected or confused with the request of another child. For God, it is not so. He never forgets anyone and his promise to each one. In today‘s gospel, God is fulfilling His promise to Zechariah. The promised son, the forerunner of the Redeemer is announced by the Angel.
The fulfilment of God‘s promise to man is also conditioned by man‘s life. Zechariah and Elizabeth “were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly.“ They persevered in prayer. Thus, the angel Gabriel addressed them; “Do not be afraid, your prayer has been heard.“ “Your wife Elizabeth will bear a son and you shall name him John.“ God granted their request in his time and due to the righteousness of the couple and perseverance in prayer.
Let us learn to trust God completely and never doubt his faithfulness. Many times God surprises. And like Zechariah who thought the words of the Angel was “too good to be true.“
Doubt in God displeases Him. It will not bring good. Lord increase our faith that we may not doubt but believe.
1st Reading: Is 7:10-14
Once again Yahweh addressed Ahaz, “Ask for a sign from Yahweh your God, let it come either from the deepest depths or from the heights of heaven.“
But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask, I will not put Yahweh to the test.“
Then Isaiah said, “Now listen, descendants of David. Have you not been satisfied trying the patience of people, that you also try the patience of my God? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:
The Virgin is with child and bears a son and calls his name Immanuel.
Gospel: Lk 1:26-38
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God, to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a virgin, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the virgin‘s name was Mary.
The angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you!“ Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean.
But the angel said, “Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you. You shall conceive and bear a son; and you shall call him Jesus. He will be great, and shall rightly be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the kingdom of David, his ancestor; he will rule over the people of Jacob forever; and his reign shall have no end.“
Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?“ And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the holy child to be born of you shall be called Son of God. Even your relative, Elizabeth, is expecting a son in her old age, although she was unable to have a child; and she is now in her sixth month. With God nothing is impossible.“
Then Mary said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said.“ And the angel left her.
We call ourselves “Pueblo Amante de Maria“. But we can only prove this if we really follow the examples of Mary. We hear in the gospel that the angel announced to her that she would be the mother of Jesus. How did she accept this? There are three qualities of Mary‘s response to God‘s invitation for her to be the mother of God ( 3Fs):
1) Faithful-In the annunciation, we hear about Mary‘s Fiat. Mary uttered her yes to the word of the angel, and from that instance the Word, the second person in the Trinity, was incarnated in her. The plan of God began to realize because of Mary‘s faithfulness. Wonderful things can happen to us, if only, we are faithful to God.
2) Fruitful–When Mary accepted God‘s invitations, she became pregnant of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. Her faithfulness led to fruitfulness. In the same manner, the Word, the Son of God, is also incarnated in us every time we say yes to him. This is our own FIAT that we do every day; this is our own “Yes“ to God that gives birth to Jesus in our life.
3) For-ever or lasting commitment. Her fidelity is not a one time yes to God but a series of yeses. In her entire life she became faithful to her calling and vocation as the mother of God. She was a true mother to Jesus and she remained as such until the end. His disciples have denied and abandoned him. One disciple has even betrayed him. But Mary remained by his side even at the foot of the cross.
This is what we pray for today to imitate Mary in her fidelity and loyalty to God till the end of our life. May the example of Mary serve as our inspiration so that Jesus may be born in our life and so that we can also give birth to Jesus in others‘ lives.
St. Peter Canisius
1st Reading: Song 2:8-14 (or Zep 3:14-18a)
The voice of my lover! Behold he comes, springing across the mountains, jumping over the hills, like a gazelle or a young stag. Now he stands behind our wall, looking through the windows, peering through the lattice.
My lover speaks to me,
“Arise, my love, my beautiful one!
Come, the winter is gone, the rains are over.
Flowers have appeared on earth; the season of singing has come; the cooing of doves is heard. The fig tree forms its early fruit, the vines in blossom are fragrant. Arise, my beautiful one, come with me, my love, come. O my dove in the rocky cleft, in the secret places of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice. Your face—how lovely! Your voice—how sweet!“
Gospel: Lk 1:39-45
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!“
Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth. But in reality, it was also the visit of Jesus, who was still in the womb of his mother, to Elizabeth and his cousin John, who like him was still in the womb of Elizabeth. Mary was used as instrument for Jesus to visit them.
According to St. Augustine, the mystery of incarnation is God‘s visitation to his people. But God‘s visitation to his people did not end in Jesus‘ ascension to the Father.
God continues to visit this people through us whenever we bring God‘s presence to others.
1st Reading: 1 S 1:24-28
When the child was weaned, Hannah took him with her along with a three-year-old bull, a measure of flour and a flask of wine, and she brought him to Yahweh‘s house at Shiloh. The child was still young.
After they had slain the bull, they brought the child to Eli. Hannah exclaimed: “Oh, my lord, look! I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to Yahweh. I asked for this child and Yahweh granted me the favor I begged of him. I think Yahweh is now asking for this child. As long as he lives, he belongs to Yahweh.“
And they worshiped Yahweh there.
Gospel: Lk 1:46-56
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.
The Magnificat which is a song thanksgiving teaches us three things:
1. First, it shows us what sort of a woman Mary is. Mary is a blessed and grateful woman. Filled with the Holy Spirit and pregnant with Jesus, she offers thanks to God. She is so blessed that she cannot but be grateful to God.
2. Second, it reminds us that everything is God‘s gift, that everything is God‘s grace. Mary recognizes the greatness of God in her Magnificat. Her conception of Jesus is but a gift from God not only to her but to humanity. Everything is God‘s grace that the only thing that she needs is to cooperate with the grace of God.
3. Third, because everything is God‘s gift we need to give thanks to God. And our thanksgiving should be seen most especially in our sharing of what we received from God to others. God was the first giver and sharer. We need to imitate Him.
Indeed, we all have been blessed and gifted by God in one way or another. Perhaps, we were not given the same gifts, but just the same we are gifted and blessed. We are blessed first and foremost with the gift of God‘s presence in us, with the gift of family, of friends, and of everything that we need in life. But have we ever thanked God for all these blessings? Lest we forget, a person who is grateful is not only happy and contented but he also proclaims the greatness of God and allows Him to enter and dwell in his life. If God dwells in our hearts, the devil has no place to dwell in us.
St. John of Kanty
1st Reading: Mal 3:1-4, 23-24
Now I am sending my messenger ahead of me, to clear the way; then, suddenly, the Lord, for whom you long, will enter the Sanctuary. The envoy of the Covenant which you so greatly desire, already comes, says Yahweh of hosts. Who can bear the day of his coming and remain standing when he appears? For he will be like fire in the foundry and like the lye used for bleaching.
He will be as a refiner or a fuller. He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them, like gold and silver. So Yahweh will have priests who will present the offering as it should be. Then Yahweh will accept with pleasure the offering of Judah and Jerusalem, as in former days.
I am going to send you the prophet Elijah before the day of Yahweh comes, for it will be a great and terrible day. He will reconcile parents with their children, and the children with their parents, so that I may not have to curse this land when I come.“
Gospel: Lk 1:57-66
When the time came for Elizabeth, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the merciful Lord had done a wonderful thing for her, and they rejoiced with her.
When, on the eighth day, they came to attend the circumcision of the child, they wanted to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, “Not so; he shall be called John.“ They said to her, “But no one in your family has that name!“ and they made signs to his father for the name he wanted to give him. Zechariah asked for a writing tablet, and wrote on it, “His name is John;“ and they were very surprised. Immediately, Zechariah could speak again, and his first words were in praise of God.
A holy fear came on all in the neighborhood, and throughout the hill country of Judea the people talked about these events. All who heard of it, pondered in their minds, and wondered, “What will this child be?“ For they understood that the hand of the Lord was with him.
Luke often ends a story in his gospel with a question. St. Luke, far from just narrating the events that he remembered about Jesus, wrote his gospel to evoke faith in his audience. He wanted that his stories would trigger their minds and make them aware of God‘s presence in their lives, move their hearts and to profess faith in God. In fact, his methodology is to lead his listeners to prayer.
Going back to the gospel narrative, when Luke poses the questions “What will this child be,“ he wants his listeners to realize that God was present in what they saw; that God is present and working in the life of St. John. The unusual circumstances surrounding his birth made it clear that the hand of the Lord was upon him.
This brings us to the main point of today‘s gospel. To question then is not something that we should avoid or refrain from doing. Questioning is something to be encouraged because it is the beginning of one‘s awareness of things around him, of self discovery and of things outside him. But more than that, questioning our faith, that is, questioning God, is in fact a form of prayer.
Cardinal Tagle, in a recent interview clarified this when he said, there is nothing wrong about questioning God, there is nothing bad about questioning him why this happened to us? Why my son died, why him? Because when done with love, it can be a form of prayer. Let us learn from what the people in today‘s gospel did after they asked the question “what will this child be?“-“They keep everything in their hearts. “May we also keep the message of Christmas in our heart.