Bible Diary for December 24th – 30thBible Diary
Fourth Sunday of Advent
1st Reading: 2 S 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
When the king had settled in his palace and Yahweh had rid him of all his surrounding enemies, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Look, I live in a house of cedar but the Ark of God is housed in a tent.“ Nathan replied, “Do as it seems fit to you for Yahweh is with you.“
But that very night, Yahweh‘s word came to Nathan, “Go and tell my servant David, this is what Yahweh says: Are you able to build a house for me to live in?
Now you will tell my servant David, this is what Yahweh of Hosts says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the sheep, to make you commander of my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you went, cutting down all your enemies before you. Now I will make your name great, as the name of the great ones on earth. I will provide a place for my people Israel and plant them that they may live there in peace. They shall no longer be harassed, nor shall wicked men oppress them as before. From the time when I appointed judges over my people Israel it is only to you that I have given rest from all your enemies. Yahweh also tells you that he will build you a house.
When the time comes for you to rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your son after you, the one born of you; and I will make his reign secure.
I will be a father to him and he shall be my son. If he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod, as men do. But I will not withdraw my kindness from him as I did from Saul when I removed him out of your way. Your house and your reign shall last forever before me, and your throne shall be forever firm.“
2nd Reading: Rom 16:25-27
Glory be to God! He is able to give you strength, according to the Good News I proclaim, announcing Christ Jesus. Now is revealed the mysterious plan, kept hidden for long ages in the past. By the will of the eternal God it is brought to light, through the prophetic books, and all nations shall believe the faith proclaimed to them. Glory to God, who alone is wise, through Christ Jesus, forever! Amen.
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.
In his nobility of heart, David desires to build a house for Yahweh, but Yahweh in turn promises a dwelling for the entire people. At the Annunciation, Mary humbly accepts God‘s desire to house within her. Paul praises the mysterious plan of God, hidden for ages, but revealed now.
Mary‘s response is the perfect merging of the active and the passive–the personal agency and the willingness to be worked on. Mary actively submits herself–out of her own free will–as the handmaid of the Lord. But her willingness is a desire to be willed by God: “let it be done to me according to your word.“ This is the perfect virginity of the soul–a soul that is completely open to God, and where God can pitch His tent. It is no wonder Mary is addressed the one “full of grace.“ She indeed is.
Ask Mother Mary to be your spiritual guide and mother in following God‘s will.
Pray the joyful mystery of Annunciation in the Marian Rosary.
1st Reading: Is 52:7-10
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who herald peace and happiness, who proclaim salvation and announce to Zion: “Your God is King!“
Together your watchmen raise their voices in praise and song; they see Yahweh face to face returning to Zion.
Break into shouts of joy, O ruins of Jerusalem, for Yahweh consoles his people and redeems Jerusalem.
Yahweh has bared his holy arm in the eyes of the nations; all the ends of the earth, in alarm, will witness God‘s salvation.
2nd Reading: Heb 1:1-6
Brothers and sisters:
In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways
to our ancestors through the prophets;
in these last days, he has spoken to us through the Son,
whom he made heir of all things
and through whom he created the universe,
who is the refulgence of his glory,
the very imprint of his being,
and who sustains all things by his mighty word.
When he had accomplished purification from sins,
he took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
as far superior to the angels
as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
For to which of the angels did God ever say:
You are my son; this day I have begotten you?
I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me?
And again, when he leads the firstborn into the world, he says:
Let all the angels of God worship him.
Gospel: Jn 1:1-18
In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God; he was in the beginning with God.
All things were made through him, and without him nothing came to be. Whatever has come to be, found life in him; life, which for human beings, was also light, light that shines in darkness, light that darkness could not overcome.
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;
for the Light was coming into the world, the true Light that enlightens everyone.
He was in the world, and through him the world was made, the very world that did not know him.
He came to his own, yet his own people did not receive him; but to all who received him, he empowers to become children of God, for they believe in his name.
These are born, but not by seed, or carnal desire, nor by the will of man: they are born of God.
And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us; and we have seen his glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father: fullness of truth and loving-kindness.
John bore witness to him openly, saying, “This is the one who comes after me, but he is already ahead of me, for he was before me.“
From his fullness we have all received, favor upon favor.
For God had given us the law through Moses, but Truth and Loving-kindness came through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God, but God-the-only-Son made him known: the one, who is in and with the Father.
Part of our Christmas decoration is the nativity scene or the Belen based on Luke‘s narrative, the gospel this midnight mass. The gospel narrated: “While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her first born son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.“ To explain why there was no place for the baby Jesus in the inn, people imagined the innkeeper‘s refusal of Joseph and Mary who was heavy with child. This recalls God‘s complaint about his people Israel as narrated in the Book of Isaiah: “an ox knows it‘s owner, and an ass, it‘s master‘s manger; but Israel does not know, my people has not understood.“ And this is also what we find in the gospel of St. John that we have just heard:
“He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.“ In a way, the gospel of John shows us that the greatest Gift God has given, his son Jesus, was not received by many. From the beginning, such has been the response to the Son of God: “There was no room for them in the inn; and there was no room in the hearts of the people for Jesus.“
This reality of “no vacancy“ or “no admittance“ for Jesus in the hearts of people is not a thing of the past. It is still happening even as we celebrate Christmas today. Still many people overlook the main point of Christmas-celebrating the birth of Christ; that it is a special time in the church that invites us to welcome Jesus anew into our hearts. It is to welcome anew the One who has already been given to us, the one who “has made His dwelling among us“.
“There was no room for them in the inn. “There was only a space on a manger for Jesus. Indeed, all that is needed is a simple and small but open and receptive space on which Jesus can truly pitch his tent and stay. Let us then make room for Jesus in our lives. Amen.
1st Reading: Acts 6:8-10; 7: 54-59
Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. Some persons then came forward, who belonged to the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen, from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia and Asia. They argued with Stephen. But they could not match the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke.
When they heard this reproach, they were enraged; and they gnashed their teeth against Stephen. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, fixed his eyes on heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus at God‘s right hand; so he declared: “I see the heavens open, and the Son of Man at the right hand of God.“
But they shouted and covered their ears with their hands, and rushed together upon him. They brought him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen prayed saying: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.“
Gospel: Mt 10:17-22
Be on your guard with people, for they will hand you over to their courts, and they will flog you in their synagogues. You will be brought to trial before rulers and kings because of me, so that you may witness to them and the pagans.
But when you are arrested, do not worry about what you are to say, or how you are to say it; when the hour comes, you will be given what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father, speaking through you.
Brother will hand over his brother to death, and a father his child; children will turn against their parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me, but whoever stands firm to the end will be saved.
We have just celebrated yesterday with joy Christmas. Yesterday‘s celebration commemorated the birth of the Son of God into the world. No doubt the beauty of Christmas still floats peacefully in the air. But now, we suddenly shifted to a dramatic and sad death of St. Stephen. Why this sudden shift? What‘s the purpose of presenting two contrasting events: birth and death; gladness and sadness.
The contrasting events remind us of the two realities of life: birth and death, of dying and rising, of happiness and sadness that we all experience. They remind us that while on earth we experience the cycle of dying and rising. In fact, it is a series of death and birth experiences, of dying and new life. They tell us that in this world not everything is happiness; neither is it pure sadness. It is a mixture of happiness and sadness.
What is important in all these contrasting realities is the presence of Christ. Obviously, Christmas is Christ made man to be present in us while the martyrdom of St. Stephen is his entrance into everlasting presence of God. Whether in moments of joy and sadness, of birth and death, if Jesus is there, any moment becomes a “kairos,“ a salvific event. May every moment of our life, joyful or sad, be filled with Christ‘s presence so that it becomes a moment of grace for us.
1st Reading: 1 Jn 1:1-4
This is what has been, from the beginning, and what we have heard, and have seen with our own eyes, what we have looked at, and touched with our hands, I mean the Word who is Life.
The Life made itself known. We have seen Eternal Life and we bear witness; and we are telling you of it. It was with the Father and made himself known to us.
So, we tell you, what we have seen and heard, that you may be in fellowship with us, and us, with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
And we write this, that our joy may be complete.
Gospel: Jn 20:1a & 2-8
Now, on the first day after the Sabbath, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark, and she saw that the stone blocking the tomb had been moved away.
She ran to Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and she said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don‘t know where they have laid him.“
Peter then set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down and saw the linen cloths lying flat, but he did not enter.
Then Simon Peter came, following him, and entered the tomb; he, too, saw the linen cloths lying flat. The napkin, which had been around his head, was not lying flat like the other linen cloths, but lay rolled up in its place. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in; he saw and believed.
Among the many descriptions and titles of St. John (he is also called the Apostle, the Evangelist, the Theologian, the Divine, the Son of Zebedee, and the brother of James), what stands most is the description he gave to himself: “the disciple whom Jesus loved.“ He is the Beloved Disciple and this is what matters most to him.
We may have obtained many titles because of our accomplishments and achievements, but if we don‘t have the love of Christ in us, we are nothing. We may have gained everything in this world-riches, fame and influence-but if we don‘t have personal relationship with Christ, that‘s nothing.
St Paul articulated this more emphatically: “If I speak with human tongues and angelic as well, but do not have love I am a noisy gang, a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and, with full knowledge, comprehend all mysteries, if I have faith great enough to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give everything I have to feed the poor and hand over my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.“
How about you? What is more important to you?
Feast of the Holy Innocents
1st Reading: 1 Jn 1:5–2:2
We heard his message, from him, and announce it to you: God is light and there is no darkness in him.
If we say we are in fellowship with him, while we walk in darkness, we lie, instead of being in truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we are in fellowship with one another; and the blood of Jesus, the Son of God, purifies us from all sin.
If we say, “We have no sin,“ we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he, who is faithful and just, will forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all wickedness.
If we say that we do not sin, we make God a liar, his word is not in us.
My little children, I write to you, that you may not sin. But if anyone sins, we have an intercessor with the Father, Jesus Christ, the Just One.
He is the sacrificial victim, for our sins, and the sins of the whole world.
Gospel: Mt 2:13-18
After the wise men had left, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod will soon be looking for the child in order to kill him.“
Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. In this way, what the Lord had said through the prophet was fulfilled: I called my son out of Egypt.
When Herod found out that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was furious. He gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its neighborhood who were two years old or under. This was done, according to what he had learned from the wise men about the time when the star appeared.
In this way, what the prophet Jeremiah had said was fulfilled: A cry is heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation: Rachel weeps for her children. She refuses to be comforted, for they are no more.
Lauren Hansen of The Week featured stories of 9 heroic teens and their incredible acts of bravery. The stories speak that children, even at their very young age, are capable of heroic deeds. This truth is not something new. More than 2,000 years ago, the Holy Innocents had already proven this.
St. Quodvultdeus explained this when he said: “They cannot speak, yet they bear witness to Christ. They cannot use their limbs to engage in battle, yet already they bear off the palm of victory.“ By their death they have proclaimed they could not preach with their infant voice. They gave witness not by words but their life‘s blood.
The Holy Innocents offered praise to Christ by the death they suffered for him. Let us learn from them. May our lives also bear witness to the faith we profess with our lips.
St. Thomas Becket
1st Reading: 1 Jn 2:3-11
How can we know that we know him? If we fulfill his commands.
If you say, “I know him,” but do not fulfill his commands, you are a liar and the truth is not in you. But if you keep his word, God’s love is made complete in you. This is how we know that we are in him: he who claims to live in him, must live as he lived.
My dear friends, I am not writing you a new commandment, but reminding you of an old one, one you had from the beginning. This old commandment is the word you have heard.
But, in a way, I give it as a new commandment, that is true in him, and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light already shines.
If you claim to be in the light, but hate your brother, you are still in darkness.
If you love your brothers and sisters, you remain in the light, and nothing in you will make you fall. But if you hate your brother, you are in the dark, and walk in darkness, without knowing where you go, for the darkness has blinded you.
Gospel: Lk 2:22-35
When the day came for the purification according to the law of Moses, they brought the baby up to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every first born male shall be consecrated to God. And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the law of the Lord: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.
There lived in Jerusalem, at this time, a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel; and he had been assured, by the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord. So, he was led into the temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law.
Simeon took the child in his arms, and blessed God, saying,
“Now, O Lord, you can dismiss your servant in peace, for you have fulfilled your word and my eyes have seen your salvation, which you display for all the people to see.
Here is the light you will reveal to the nations, and the glory of your people Israel.“
His father and mother wondered at what was said about the child. Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary, his mother, “Know this: your son is a sign; a sign established for the falling and rising of many in Israel, a sign of contradiction; and a sword will pierce your own soul, so that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.“
The purpose of presentation is to fulfill what is commanded by the Lord: “Every first born male shall be consecrated to God.“ The idea is to recognize the couple‘s giftedness. God has given them a gift of a son and it is but fitting that the “son-gift“ should be presented to God in thanksgiving and be offered back to be consecrated to God.
Jesus is God‘s gift not only to Mary and Joseph but to humanity. As a gift he was presented by his parents in thanksgiving and for consecration. His presentation prefigures what is to take place during the last supper and on the cross. The Jesus who was offered during the presentation is the same Jesus who was offered on the cross for our salvation. He is the same Jesus who is the offeror and the one being offered every time the Eucharist is celebrated. For this, Jesus is truly a gift to humanity!
Our life is God‘s gift to us, to our family and to the community. Like Jesus, we were also presented and consecrated to God in baptism. As Jesus lived up his consecration until the end of his earthly life, we must also show in our daily life our baptismal consecration by being gifts to God and to another.
1st Reading: 1 Jn 2:12-17
My dear children, I write this to you: you have already received the forgiveness of your sins, through the name of Jesus. Fathers, I write this to you: you know him, who is from the beginning. Young men, I write this to you: you have overcome the evil one. My dear children, I write to you, because you already know the Father.
Fathers, I write to you, because you know him, who is from the beginning. Young men, I write to you, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, who have, indeed, overcome the evil one.
Do not love the world, or what is in it. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For everything in the world—the craving of the flesh, the greed of eyes and people boasting of their superiority—all this, belongs to the world, not to the Father.
The world passes away, with all its craving, but those who do the will of God remain for ever.
Gospel: Lk 2:36-40
There was also a prophetess named Anna, daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. After leaving her father‘s home, she had been seven years with her husband; and since then, she had been continually about the temple, serving God, as a widow, night and day, in fasting and prayer. She was now eighty-four. Coming up at that time, she gave praise to God, and spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.
When the parents had fulfilled all that was required by the law of the Lord, they returned to their town, Nazareth in Galilee. There, the child grew in stature and strength, and was filled with wisdom: the grace of God was upon him.
The call to holiness is not only for old people but for everybody, young and old alike. Children are called to be holy just as their parents are.
Prophetess Anna serves as the model for old people to live holy lives. She had been continually about the temple, serving God, as a widow, night and day, in fasting and prayer. The child Jesus also serves as the model for children to follow. Like Jesus, children should also grow not only in stature and strength but in wisdom and in grace of God.
St. John, in the first reading, warns us about a big obstacle to holiness. He warns us not to love the word, or what is in it. For everything in the world-the craving of the flesh, the greed of eyes and people boasting of their superiority-all this belongs to the world, not the Father. For him, to be holy means to do the will of the Father and remain in Him.
Let us be holy by doing the will of God and by remaining in Him through prayers and through service.