Bible Diary for December 30th – January 5thBible Diary
Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
1st Reading: 1 S 1:20-22, 24-28:
And she became pregnant. She gave birth to a son and called him Samuel because she said: “I have asked Yahweh to give him to me.“ Once more Elkanah went to the temple with his family to offer his yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow to Yahweh. Hannah would not go along but she said to her husband, “I will bring the child there as soon as he is weaned. He shall be presented to Yahweh and stay there forever.“
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.
2nd Reading: 1 Jn 3:1-2, 21-24:
See what singular love the Father has for us: we are called children of God, and we really are. This is why the world does not know us, because it did not know him. Beloved, we are God‘s children, and what we shall be has not yet been shown. Yet, when he appears in his glory, we know that we shall be like him, for then, we shall see him as he is. When our conscience does not condemn us, dear friends, we may have complete confidence in God.
Then, whatever we ask, we shall receive, since we keep his commands and do what pleases him. His command is, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and that, we love one another, as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commands remains in God and God in him. It is by the Spirit God has given us, that we know he lives in us.
Gospel: Lk 2:41-52:
Every year, the parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover, as was customary. And when Jesus was twelve years old, he went up with them, according to the custom of this feast. After the festival was over, they returned, but the boy Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and his parents did not know it. They assumed that he was in their group of travelers and, after walking the whole day, they looked for him among their relatives and friends.
As they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem, searching for him; and on the third day, they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. And all the people were amazed at his understanding and his answers. His parents were very surprised when they saw him; and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I were very worried while searching for you.“ Then he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father‘s house?“ But they did not understand this answer. Jesus went down with them, returning to Nazareth, and he continued to be obedient to them. As for his mother, she kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and age, and in divine and human favor.
Hannah seems to understand the core belonging of her child much better than Joseph and Mary, who are left confused at Jesus‘ words. Hannah longed for a child with the intensity of the longing of a drowning person for air. But upon receiving the child, she is willing to return him to the very source of life: God. In this, she elevates her faith to a plane equal to that of Abraham. Joseph and Mary would also learn, incrementally and wholly, to give up their son to whom he truly belonged. If only every parent on earth learned this lesson of their child‘s true origins and destiny, how holy would our families be! Today, pray for all the families in the world.
St. Sylvester I
1st Reading: 1 Jn 2:18-21:
Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. Thus we know this is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of our number; if they had been, they would have remained with us. Their desertion shows that none of them was of our number. But you have the anointing that comes from the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you not because you do not know the truth but because you do, and because every lie is alien to the truth.
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 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.(…) 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.(…)
John presents Jesus here as “one of being with“ God. John‘s opening introduces several motifs that will dominate his narrative to follow. First, as already noted, John stresses that “the world came into being through him.“ Jesus is integral to the creation of the cosmos. Second, John presents Jesus as the source of revelation and grace for humankind: He is “the true light which enlightens everyone and reflecting God‘s glory, He is “full of grace and truth.“ Creation and salvation are one. Third is that the Word became incarnate among and within humanity: “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.“
The Word embraces all of what is in us, both holy and unholy, to redeem all those who would welcome him and his unconditional love. The prologue of John connects creation and incarnation and Richard Rohr in his cosmic reflection about Jesus says: God‘s incarnation is the whole immense cosmic body – water, fire, wind, earth and all the elements. We are to evolve together in a new creation and flourish as a community of interconnected beings. Within the human heart and the heart of the cosmos is the sacred quest for interconnectedness and harmony. We are part of the cosmos and the world of matter, energy, space and time is our home. All our thoughts and actions, our prayer and worship are radically cosmic in its foundations, expressions and celebrations.
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
1st Reading: Num 6:22-27:
The LORD said to Moses: “Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them: This is how you shall bless the Israelites. Say to them: The LORD bless you and keep you! The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace! So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
2nd Reading: Gal 4:4-7:
Brothers and sisters: When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. As proof that you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then also an heir, through God.
Gospel: Lk 2:16-21:
So they came hurriedly, and found Mary and Joseph, with the baby lying in the manger. On seeing him they related what they had been told about the child, and all were astonished on hearing the shepherds. As for Mary, she treasured all these words and continually pondered them in her heart. The shepherds then returned giving glory and praise to God for all they had heard and seen, just as the angels had told them. On the eighth day the circumcision of the baby had to be performed; he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
The Nativity of Jesus is accompanied by various signs and wonders— not least the arrival of shepherds, who report that an angel had instructed them to look for the newborn Messiah in a feeding trough. Can anyone imagine a less auspicious sign of “great joy for all the people” (Lk 2:16)? And could anyone imagine less auspicious witnesses for such an event? While shepherds in the Hebrew Scriptures find favor with God, actual shepherds in the time of Jesus were among the poor and marginal class of people—what one scholar has called “the expendables.”
Certainly this encounter itself was a sign—that God’s good news comes in unexpected forms and where we might least expect it. In future years this child would be called many things— Good Shepherd, as well as Lamb of God. His identity would be announced to important people, who would torture and kill him. But in the beginning, it was to certain poor shepherds, tired from keeping watch, rank with the smell of their sheep, that the Gospel of great joy was first revealed. Certainly all this Mary—a poor young woman of the common people—treasured and pondered in her heart.
St. Basil the Great & St. Gregory Nazianzen
1st Reading: 1 Jn 2:22-28:
Who is the liar? Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Whoever denies the Father and the Son, this is the antichrist. Anyone who denies the Son does not have the Father, but whoever confesses the Son has the Father as well.
Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made us: eternal life. I write you these things about those who would deceive you. As for you, the anointing that you received from him remains in you, so that you do not need anyone to teach you. But his anointing teaches you about everything and is true and not false; just as it taught you, remain in him.
And now, children, remain in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not be put to shame by him at his coming.
Gospel: Jn 1:19-28:
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 Bethsaida beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
Asked to identify himself, John the Baptist first answers by saying who he is not: he is not Elijah, nor is the Prophet (both expected forerunners of the Messiah), nor the Messiah himself. Then who is he? His answer is elusive. Invoking a line from Isaiah, he calls himself “the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord!” In other words, asked to say who he is, he identifies himself in terms of his relation to another.
It is unclear at this point if John himself knew the identity of the one he was awaiting, the one whose sandal strap he was unworthy to tie. What is important is John’s recognition that he does not proclaim himself. The message of his life is more like a question, to which another will provide the answer. Is this not the life of every Christian? It is impossible to name the identity of a Christian except by reference to the One we follow. Unworthy as we may be, we are called to clear a path for Him in our families, our communities, our places of work, and our moment in history.
The Most Holy Name of Jesus
1st Reading: 1 Jn 2:29 – 3:6:
If you consider that God is righteous, you also know that everyone who acts in righteousness is begotten by him.
See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure.
Everyone who commits sin commits lawlessness, for sin is lawlessness. You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who remains in him sins; no one who sins has seen him or known him.
Gospel: Jn 1:29-34:
The next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “There is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. It is he of whom I said: A man comes after me who is already ahead of me, for he was before me. I myself did not know him, but I came baptizing to prepare for him, so that he might be revealed in Israel.”
And John also gave this testimony, “I saw the Spirit coming down on him like a dove from heaven and resting on him. I myself did not know him but God who sent me to baptize, told me: ‘You will see the Spirit coming down and resting on the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ Yes, I have seen! And I declare that this is the Chosen One of God.”
According to Luke, the mothers of Jesus and John were “kinswomen.” (Lk 1:36). Yet John here reveals no prior familiarity with Jesus; “I myself did not know him,” he says. Nevertheless, on the basis of a sign he had been awaiting, he instantly recognized Jesus as “the Chosen One of God.” John was living for this moment. His personal mission was entirely attuned to such a sign, and he recognized it when it arrived.
There where probably others at the scene who strained their eyes to see who John was talking about: “What? Who? You mean him?” Are we capable of recognizing the presence of the Spirit when it appears in our lives or our moment in history? In most cases it does not appear in the form of a dove. Perhaps it comes in a flash of understanding, or an occasion of reconciliation, or a long-awaited victory for the cause of justice. Others may let it pass. It is only with the eyes of faith, long attuned to such signs, that we may find ourselves able to proclaim: “Yes, I have seen!”
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
1st Reading: 1 Jn 3:7-10:
Children, let no one deceive you. The person who acts in righteousness is righteous, just as he is righteous. Whoever sins belongs to the Devil, because the Devil has sinned from the beginning. Indeed, the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the Devil. No one who is begotten by God commits sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot sin because he is begotten by God. In this way, the children of God and the children of the Devil are made plain; no one who fails to act in righteousness belongs to God, nor anyone who does not love his brother.
Gospel: Jn 1:35-42:
On the following day, John was standing there again with two of his disciples As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and said, “There is the Lamb of God.” On hearing this, the two disciples followed Jesus. He turned and saw them following, and he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They answered, “Rabbi (which means Master), where are you staying?”
Jesus said, “Come and see.” So they went and saw where he stayed and spent the rest of that day with him. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard what John had said and followed Jesus. Early the next morning he found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means the Christ), and he brought Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon, son of John, but you shall be called Cephas” (which means Rock).
What is our purpose in the brief, precious time we are given in this life? What is it that we are looking for? That is the question that Jesus put to the disciples of John the Baptist who suddenly left their former master and began tagging along after him: “What are you looking for?” Of course they were seeking the deepest meaning of life, God’s will for their lives, the coming of God’s Kingdom. . . They hardly knew how to put it into words, though they sensed that this mysterious stranger somehow held a key to the answers. In their awkwardness they gave just about the lamest possible reply: “Where are you staying?”
To this Jesus simply replied, “Come and see.” Which they did. We approach the Lord awkwardly, hardly knowing the words to express the deepest questions in our hearts. But he knows what we are seeking, and he knows that the only answer comes from seeing for ourselves: What it is like to live in his presence, to tag along after him and observe his ways, to find where he is staying, with the hope that we might stay with him forever.
St. John Neumann
1st Reading: 1 Jn 3:11-21:
This is the message you have heard from the beginning: we should love one another, unlike Cain who belonged to the Evil One and slaughtered his brother. Why did he slaughter him? Because his own works were evil, and those of his brother righteous. Do not be amazed, then, brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. Whoever does not love remains in death.
Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him. The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him? Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.
Now this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth and reassure our hearts before him in whatever our hearts condemn, for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God.
Gospel: Jn 1:43-51:
Jesus decided to set off for Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Philip was from Bethsaida, the town of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found the one that Moses wrote about in the Law, and the prophets as well: he is Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” Nathanael replied, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming, he said of him, “Here comes an Israelite, a true one; there is nothing false in him.” Nathanael asked him, “How do you know me?”
And Jesus said to him, “Before Philip called you, you were under the fig tree and I saw you.” Nathanael answered, “Master, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” But Jesus replied, “You believe because I said: ‘I saw you under the fig tree.’ But you will see greater things than that. Truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
Jesus comes from a town so obscure that it is the punch line for jokes: “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” But it takes very little for Nathanael to change his mind about the mysterious stranger: “Master, you are the Son of God!” he proclaims. What causes this sudden change of heart? Was it Jesus’ apparent clairvoyance in seeing him under a fig tree? Jesus’ words evidently convey more to Nathanael than we can know: a capacity not merely to perceive his location but to read and weigh the value of his heart.
Even still, as Jesus notes, the disciple will see “greater things than that.” As John notes in his epistle, “God is greater than our conscience and he knows everything.” John measures the content of a heart that lives in the truth and opens itself in love toward those who are in need. And yet the followers of Jesus will witness greater love than this: “He gave his life for us.” It follows that “we, too, ought to give our life for our brothers and sisters.”