Bible Diary for December 31st – January 6thBible Diary
Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
1st Reading: Gen 15:1-6; 21:1-3 (or Sir 3:2-6, 12-14)
After this the word of Yahweh was spoken to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward will be very great!“
Abram said, “My Lord Yahweh, where are your promises? I am still childless and all I have will go to Eliezer of Damascus. You have given me no children, so a slave of mine will be my heir.“
Then the word of Yahweh was spoken to him again, “Eliezer will not be your heir, but a child born of you (your own flesh and blood) will be your heir.“ Then Yahweh brought him outside and said to him, “Look up at the sky and count the stars if you can. Your descendants will be like that.“
Abram believed Yahweh who, because of this, held him to be an upright man.
Yahweh was kind to Sarah as he had said, and fulfilled his promise to her. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time Yahweh had promised. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son that Sarah bore him.
2nd Reading: Heb 11:8, 11-12, 17-19 (or Col 3:12-21)
It was by faith, that Abraham, called by God, set out for a country that would be given to him as an inheritance; for he parted without knowing where he was going.
By faith, Sarah, herself, received power to become a mother, in spite of her advanced age; since she believed that, he, who had made the promise, would be faithful. Therefore, from an almost impotent man, were born descendants, as numerous as the stars of heaven, as many as the grains of sand on the seashore.
By faith, Abraham went to offer Isaac, when God tested him. And so, he, who had received the promise of God, offered his only son, although God had told him: Isaac‘s descendants will bear your name. Abraham reasoned, that God is capable even of raising the dead, and he received back his son, which has a figurative meaning.
Gospel: Lk 2:22-40
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 firstborn 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.“
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.
Despite the heavy odds stacked against him, Abram trusted God‘s promises and found peace. Such trust won him God‘s blessings and made him the father of faith. It is such faith that enabled Simeon and Anna to recognize the holy family and the promised Messiah within it.
The Holy Family does not seem to be, for untrained eyes, a peaceful family. Ever since the conception of the child, the family has been into all sorts of problems. And now Simeon prophesies that the child is billed to be a sign of contradiction and the mother will have her heart pierced in sorrow. But the heart of the matter is: this is a family that consists of three persons who embrace the will of God–doing God‘s Will is their sole mission. It is such God-centeredness that made the family holy and full of grace.
Pray for broken families, divorced couples, and orphaned children.
Feed a poor family today.
Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the 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
The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph,
and the infant lying in the manger.
When they saw this,
they made known the message
that had been told them about this child.
All who heard it were amazed
by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things,
reflecting on them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God
for all they had heard and seen,
just as it had been told to them.
When eight days were completed for his circumcision,
he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel
before he was conceived in the womb.
We read this several times in the Bible. It seems to be Mary‘s way to ponder things in her heart when she experiences something incomprehensible. How could a young girl comprehend that she, who is a child herself, is about to bear a child in her womb when she had never been with a man? How can she fathom the mystery of this CHILD who has to do his FATHER‘ s business? And how can she accept that her son has to die a criminal‘s death? And as to her own mystery, how can she grasp the destiny that awaits her – that all generations will call her blessed?
In silence and solitude, she pondered all these things in her heart. Did she actually understand? Maybe, not fully. But in the depth of her heart she learned to accept what she could not understand fully. She learned what it is to surrender herself into the arms of the Living God.
Loving God, we do not always understand the things that happen to us. When we encounter your mysterious ways in our life, help us like Mary to go into the depth of our heart and ponder on them and may we, like Mary, learn to abandon ourselves to your holy will. Amen.
Sts. Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen
1st Reading: 1 Jn 2:22-28
The LORD said to Moses:
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 is the testimony of John.
When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him
to ask him, “Who are you?”
He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted,
“I am not the Christ.”
So they asked him,
“What are you then? Are you Elijah?”
And he said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
So they said to him,
“Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you have to say for yourself?”
“I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’
as Isaiah the prophet said.”
Some Pharisees were also sent.
They asked him,
“Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?”
John answered them,
“I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,
where John was baptizing.
By our baptism, we are called to be prophets. Who are prophets? Simply put — a prophet is one who stands up, who speaks out. A prophet is one who announces the good news and who denounces the bad news. Today there are modern day prophets — people who will put their life at stake to stand for the truth, to expose corruption. They are not always understood. They are like the voice crying in the wilderness. People think they are crazy to go against those in power. Or sometimes they are hailed as instant heroes but after sometime they are forgotten. St. John the Baptist was beheaded. Modern prophets can be beheaded symbolically or in some cases actually killed a few years after their denunciation of corruption of those in power. Maybe not all of us are called to be prophets in a big, dramatic way. But in the course of our life, we might be called upon to stand up against an oppressive boss. We might be given the choice to be in solidarity with oppressed and exploited groups of people like farmers fighting for their land, indigenous people fighting for their ancestral domain, victims of violence seeking for justice.
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
John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
He is the one of whom I said,
‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.’
I did not know him,
but the reason why I came baptizing with water
was that he might be made known to Israel.”
John testified further, saying,
“I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky
and remain upon him.
I did not know him,
but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me,
‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain,
he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’
Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”
What is the meaning of being a child of God?Children are supposed to have some likeness with their parents either physically or intellectually or in some subtle mannerisms or ways of speaking or doing things. God is first of all CREATOR. Creativity is therefore a sign of being a child of God. For me one of the greatest expressions of creativity of human beings is a woman giving birth. When a woman gives birth, she is most like God. A mother is the only one who can literally say when she looks at her child in her arms: THIS IS MY BODY, THIS IS MY BLOOD!Of course giving physical birth is not the only creative activity of human beings. We give birth in many ways — to a painting, to music, to inventions, to a story, to any work of art. Every creative act proclaims the greatness of the Creator! When we nurture somebody, even if we did not give physical birth, we create a good person. And that is the other trait of our Father — his INFINITE GOODNESS. And so everytime we do good to others, when we make someone feel loved, appreciated or cherished, we are exhibiting a family trait. WE ARE ACTING LIKE CHILDREN OF GOD.
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
John was standing with two of his disciples,
and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God.”
The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,
“What are you looking for?”
They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher),
“where are you staying?”
He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying,
and they stayed with him that day.
It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,
was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.
He first found his own brother Simon and told him,
“We have found the Messiah,” which is translated Christ.
Then he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said,
“You are Simon the son of John;
you will be called Cephas,” which is translated Peter.
When Jesus invited his disciples by telling them: COME AND SEE, they left everything behind — father, boat, fish catch, work, etc — and followed him. We also hear similar invitations at different points of our life — from childhood to adolescence to youth to adulthood to midlife to old age. Sometimes we experience crisis at these transitions. Chinese calligraphy has the same character for “crisis“ and for “opportunity“. So these crisis points are opportunities for growth and development — to perceive more challenges, to meet more impulses for transformation. There is a tendency to want to stay where one is and not to make the step ahead. We cling to what is familiar and have some fear of the unknown. But we will grow and develop to the extent that we leave our comfort zones. And as we experience both successes and failures, accomplishments and diminishment, if we learn from them, we will grow not only in age but in wisdom.
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 go to Galilee, and he found Philip.
And Jesus said to him, “Follow me.”
Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the town of Andrew and Peter.
Philip found Nathanael and told him,
“We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law,
and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”
But Nathanael said to him,
“Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him,
“Here is a true child of Israel.
There is no duplicity in him.”
Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”
Nathanael answered him,
“Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Do you believe
because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree?
You will see greater things than this.”
And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
you will see the sky opened and the angels of God
ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Jesus seldom praises a person in public. But when he saw Nathanael, he said in undisguised admiration: THERE IS NO FALSEHOOD IN HIM. Another version says: THERE IS NO GUILE IN HIM which adds the subtle nuance of INNOCENCE. A person with no guile is one who is wholely herself/himself. There is no pretense, no hidden agendas, no artifice, no complication, no masks — absolutely transparent. What you see is what you get. In our society, there is so much falsehood, pretense and hypocrisy. Corrupt government officials are living in continuous lie because they have to cover up all the time the many false transactions and bloated budgets that make up their day. The campaign speeches of political candidates are replete with blatant falsehood, hidden agendas, false promises they do not mean to keep. Even the Church is not immune from falsehood. There are priests who make moralistic homilies in the pulpit and yet are guilty of sexual abuse. In our personal lives we meet temptations to cheat, to pretend, to tell lies, to bear false witness against our neighbors, to live double lives. In this atmosphere of falsehood, it is indeed refreshing to meet a “person with no guile“ who personifies truth, authenticity and integrity.
St. André Bessette
1st Reading: 1 Jn 5:5-13
Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
This is the one who came through water and Blood, Jesus Christ,
not by water alone, but by water and Blood.
The Spirit is the one who testifies,
and the Spirit is truth.
So there are three that testify,
the Spirit, the water, and the Blood,
and the three are of one accord.
If we accept human testimony,
the testimony of God is surely greater.
Now the testimony of God is this,
that he has testified on behalf of his Son.
Whoever believes in the Son of God
has this testimony within himself.
Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar
by not believing the testimony God has given about his Son.
And this is the testimony:
God gave us eternal life,
and this life is in his Son.
Whoever possesses the Son has life;
whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life.
I write these things to you so that you may know
that you have eternal life,
you who believe in the name of the Son of God.
Gospel: Mk 1:7-11
This is what John the Baptist proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open
and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens,
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
The most valuable, most important reality in this world is LIFE! Everything else is of less value than life. It is God‘s greatest gift to us. Have we ever wondered why, with the infinite number of possible beings, we are the ones who has been given this most precious gift – life? From the moment we wake up we encounter the blessings of life — the sunshine shining through our window, the water that refreshes us as we shower, the smile of loved ones as they greet us at the breakfast table. Even the trials, the pains, the sufferings, the challenges that we encounter in life intensify the wonder of life. It is also true, however, that the surest thing in life is death! Everyone who is born will die. Yes, you and me also. Sooner or later. It is our most natural instinct to shrink from death and to cling to life. And so God gave us a greater gift – ETERNAL LIFE. We cannot actually imagine what this means — in spite all the stories of neardeath experiences we have read. As for myself, I have stopped speculating or imagining what it would be. What I am convinced of – is that after my death, I WILL BE WITH GOD. How that will be, I don‘t know. I will let myself be pleasantly surprised. Meanwhile I am thankful to be alive. I live my life to the full and with joy!