Bible Diary for December 3rd – 9thBible Diary
First Sunday of Advent
1st Reading: Is 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7
For you are our Father, whereas Abraham does not know us nor has Israel any knowledge of us. But you, O Yahweh, are our Father, from the beginning, you are our redeemer: this is your name.
Why have you made us stray from your ways? Why have you let our heart become hard so that we do not fear you? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your inheritance.
For too long we have become like those you do not rule, like those who do not bear your name.
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down! The mountains would quake at your presence.
Let them witness your stunning deeds.
No one has ever heard or perceived, no eye has ever seen a God besides you who works for those who trust in him.
You have confounded those who acted righteously and who joyfully kept your ways in mind. But you are angry with our sins, yet conceal them and we shall be saved.
All of us have become like the unclean; all our good deeds are like polluted garments; we have all withered like leaves, blown away by our iniquities.
There is no one who calls upon your name, no one who rouses himself to lay hold of you. For you have hidden your face, you have given us up to the power of our evil acts.
And yet, Yahweh, you are our Father; we are the clay and you are our potter; we are the work of your hand.
2nd Reading: 1 Cor 1:3-9
Receive grace, and peace from God, our Father, and Christ Jesus, our Lord.
I give thanks, constantly, to my God, for you, and for the grace of God given to you, in Christ Jesus. For you have been fully enriched, in him, with words, as well as with knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you. You do not lack any spiritual gift and only await the glorious coming of Christ Jesus, our Lord. He will keep you steadfast to the end, and you will be without reproach, on the day of the coming of our Lord Jesus. The faithful God will not fail you, after calling you to this fellowship with his Son, Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Gospel: Mk 13:33-37
Be alert and watch, for you don‘t know when the time will come. When a man goes abroad and leaves his home, he puts his servants in charge, giving to each one some responsibility; and he orders the doorkeeper to stay awake. So stay awake, for you don‘t know when the Lord of the house will come, in the evening or at midnight, when the cock crows or before dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him catch you asleep.
And what I say to you, I say to all: Stay awake!“
We are the clay and God is the potter – we are God‘s masterpieces. We have been enriched in Christ and therefore, God will not fail us. Gospel gives the message of advent: Be awake and watch for the coming! Is it too hard to be ever watchful? Not really! The watchfulness mentioned here can be understood this way: imagine you are traveling with your friend in a car and you are absorbed in conversation with him. During the conversation, your friend who is at the wheel picks up every signal on the road and drives accordingly. And, at some point he asks you, “Can you check the door?
I do not think it is shut well.“ How did he pick these up while engrossed in conversation? Was it hard for him? The alertness for the coming of the Kingdom is such sort of watchfulness.
Give me a heart, Lord, which is ever awake to the workings of the Master Potter.
Take a walk in the woods. Or on the beach. Or in the garden. Be awake to the presence of God around you.
St. John of Damascus
1st Reading: Is 2:1-5
The vision of Isaiah, son of Amoz, concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
In the last days, the mountain of Yahweh‘s house shall be set over the highest mountains and shall tower over the hills.
All the nations shall stream to it, saying, “Come, let us go to the mountain of Yahweh, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and we may walk in his paths. For the teaching comes from Zion, and from Jerusalem the word of Yahweh.
He will rule over the nations and settle disputes for many people. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not raise sword against nation; they will train for war no more.
O nation of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of Yahweh!“
Gospel: Mt 8:5-11
When Jesus entered Capernaum, an army captain approached him, to ask his help, “Sir, my servant lies sick at home. He is paralyzed and suffers terribly.“ Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.“
The captain answered, “I am not worthy to have you under my roof. Just give an order and my boy will be healed. For I myself, a junior officer, give orders to my soldiers. And if I say to one, ‘Go!‘ he goes; and if I say to another, ‘Come!‘ he comes; and if I say to my servant, ‘Do this!‘ he does it.“
When Jesus heard this, he was astonished; and said to those who were following him, “I tell you, I have not found such faith in Israel. I say to you, many will come from east and west and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of heaven.
Advent is the start of the liturgical calendar of the Church. Advent, as we know is the celebration of the Lord‘s coming, preparing us for the celebration of Christ. It‘s a season of joyful, hopeful, faithful and prayerful waiting for God‘s promised Messiah. It reminds us too that the Lord is coming again in Glory at the fullness of time. This we anticipate in advent. Our readings speak of the end of time.
The Jewish thought was that the Messiah will come for them exclusively. He is not for any other group or race. Jesus favouring the request of the Roman centurion is immediately telling us that Jesus is not of the Jewish belief. He comes for everyone; the poor and the rich, the gentiles and the Jewish, the lost and the insider. The centurion though pagan won the Heart of Jesus. Showing that He is concerned with everyone (coming for everyone), Jesus limited not His favour alone to the centurion‘s need but to His Household servant. Christmas is for all.
God‘s house is open to all. It requires neither a birth, adoption, nor a baptismal. Only Faith, like that of the centurion, is asked. Faith like the mustard seed will suffice.
1st Reading: Is 11:1-10
From the stump of Jesse a shoot will come forth; from his roots a branch will grow and bear fruit.
The spirit of the Lord will rest upon him—a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of counsel and power, a spirit of knowledge and fear of Yahweh.
Not by appearances will he judge, nor by what is said must he decide, but with justice he will judge the poor and with righteousness decide for the meek.
Like a rod, his word will strike the oppressor, and the breath of his lips slay the wicked.
Justice will be the girdle of his waist, truth the girdle of his loins.
The wolf will dwell with the lamb, the leopard will rest beside the kid, the calf and the lion cub will feed together and a little child will lead them.
Befriending each other, the cow and the bear will see their young ones lie down together.
Like cattle, the lion will eat hay.
By the cobra‘s den the infant will play.
The child will put his hand into the viper‘s lair.
No one will harm or destroy over my holy mountain, for as water ﬁlls the sea the earth will be ﬁlled with the knowledge of Yahweh.
On that day the “Root of Jesse“ will be raised as a signal for the nations. The people will come in search of him, thus making his dwelling place glorious.
Gospel: Lk 10:21-24
At that time, Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and made them known to little ones. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. I have been given all things by my Father, so that no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and he to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.“
Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said to them privately, “Fortunate are you to see what you see, for I tell you, that many prophets and kings would have liked to see what you see, but did not see it; and to he hear what you hear, but did not hear it.“
Today, we pray for the grace to know Jesus more clearly, to love Him more dearly and to follow Him more faithfully and always. The prophet Isaiah foretells that from Jesse‘s descendants someone will come forth and the Spirit of God will rest upon Him. We believe that, that “someone“ is Jesus. The description of the spirit reminds us of the gifts of the Holy Spirit we received in Confirmation. It tells us that we are one with Christ through the Spirit.
To know Him more clearly, Jesus teaches to have a childlike simplicity, open mind, eager to learn. A simple mind can easily receive truth that a learned cannot easily accept. It was so hard for the teachers to take in Jesus‘ proclamation. The humble and the lowly (Mary and Apostles) easily understood Jesus then followed.
Our knowledge of Jesus: His unity with the Father, as the fullness of God‘s revelation, as the peak of the history of salvation, the goal and climax of the prophets‘ preaching will naturally lead us to love Jesus so dearly and follow Him faithfully. In Jesus, we meet God, He whom we are longing for.
1st Reading: Is 25:6-10a
On this mountain Yahweh Sabaoth will prepare for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, meat full of marrow, fine wine strained.
On this mountain he will destroy the pall cast over all peoples, this very shroud spread over all nations, and death will be no more. The Lord Yahweh will wipe away the tears from all cheeks and eyes; he will take away the humiliation of his people all over the world:
for Yahweh has spoken.
On that day you will say: This is our God. We have waited for him to save us, let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation. For on this mountain the hand of Yahweh rests.
Gospel: Mt 15:29-37
From there, Jesus went to the shore of Lake Galilee, and then went up into the hills, where he sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing the dumb, the blind, the lame, the crippled, and many with other infirmities. People carried them to the feet of Jesus, and he healed them. All were astonished when they saw the dumb speaking, the lame walking, the crippled healed, and the blind able to see; and they glorified the God of Israel.
Jesus called his disciples and said to them, “I am filled with compassion for these people; they have already followed me for three days and now have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away fasting, or they may faint on the way.“ His disciples said to him, “And where shall we find enough bread in this wilderness to feed such a crowd?“ Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?“ They answered, “Seven, and a few small fish.“
Jesus ordered the people to sit on the ground. Then, he took the seven loaves and the small fish, and gave thanks to God. He broke them and gave them to his disciples, who distributed them to the people.
They all ate and were satisfied, and the leftover pieces filled seven wicker baskets.
I was invited to a great wedding party in the top hotel of San Francisco, California. Everybody was enjoying. There was so much laughter and dancing. No dull moments. No tears. No distinction between Americans, Filipinos, Blacks and Puerto Ricans. The prophet Isaiah describes the day of the Lord‘s coming as great feast for all that God Himself will prepare in abundance of rich food and choice wines. The party I attended of course cannot compare with the heavenly banquet. But for me, it is a foretaste and picture of what is to come. The prophecy of Isaiah brought me to a desire: “One thing I seek is to dwell in the house of the Lord all days of my life.“ May it inspire us all to desire seriously our heavenly home. After all, we are all invited.
Another moving picture today is the gospel narrative, where Jesus healed the dumb, the blind, the lame, the crippled and those with deformities, and then feed them. For what reason did Jesus do it? Jesus said; “I am filled with compassion for these people; they have now followed for three days.“ God graciously poured his compassion and mercy on them, even if they were only with Him for three days. Same compassion is available to us and surely it will be more if we follow and serve Him longer, unconditionally.
1st Reading: Is 26:1-6
On that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city, he himself has set up walls and fortifications to protect us. Open the gates! Let the righteous nation enter, she who is firm in faithfulness. You keep in perfect peace the one of steadfast mind, the one who trusts in you. Trust in Yahweh forever, for Yahweh is an everlasting Rock. He brought down those who dwell on high, he laid low the lofty city, he razed it to the ground, leveled it to the dust, Now it is trampled the poor and the lowly tread upon it.
Gospel: Mt 7:21, 24-27
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord! Lord!‘ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my heavenly Father.
“Therefore, anyone who hears these words of mine, and acts according to them, is like a wise man, who built his house on rock. The rain poured down, the rivers flooded, and the wind blew and struck that house. But it did not collapse, because it was built on rock. But anyone who hears these words of mine, and does not act accordingly, is like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain poured, the rivers flooded, and the wind blew and struck that house; it collapsed, and what a terrible collapse that was!“
The readings from Isaiah and Matthew speak of the comparison of strength between a house built on solid rock and the one built on sand. The house on the solid rock does not fall. While the house on sand, is easily carried by flood and blown by wind.
We are joyfully expecting and hoping for Jesus to come. We want Him to come on Christmas as we celebrate His birthday. Why do we expect him? Why are we waiting for Him? What will He bring to us?
Jesus is the rock and the solid foundation of our life. Experience taught us many times, we stood up on our beliefs, on peoples‘ promises, on our strength, on our knowledge, at the end of the day we regretted, we failed. Jesus will come to teach us to build on Him and on His teachings.
How should we build our foundation of life? Jesus teaches: “anyone who hears these words of mine and does not act accordingly, is like a fool who built his house on the sand, the rain poured, the wind blew, it collapsed.“ Jesus is telling us today, what is the use of buying a car if we do not use it? Why go to a doctor if you will not follow his prescription and diagnosis? Jesus and His word is our solid rock foundation. St Augustine told us of his findings in life: “My soul is restless until it rested on God.“
Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary
1st Reading: Gen 3:9-15, 20
Yahweh God called the man saying to him, “Where are you?“ He said, “I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.“ God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree I ordered you not to eat?“ The man answered, “The woman you put with me gave me fruit from the tree and I ate it.“ God said to the woman, “What have you done?“ The woman said, “The serpent deceived me and I ate.“
Yahweh God said to the serpent, “Since you have done that, be cursed among all the cattle and wild beasts! You will crawl on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life. I will make you enemies, you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring. He will crush your head and you will strike his heel.“
The man called his wife by the name of Eve, because she was the mother of all the living.
2nd Reading: Eph 1:3-6, 11-12
Blessed be God, the Father of Christ Jesus our Lord, who, in Christ, has blessed us from heaven, with every spiritual blessing. God chose us, in Christ, before the creation of the world, to be holy, and without sin in his presence.
From eternity he destined us, in love, to be his adopted sons and daughters, through Christ Jesus, thus fulfilling his free and generous will. This goal suited him: that his loving-kindness, which he granted us in his beloved might finally receive all glory and praise.
By a decree of him, who disposes all things, according to his own plan and decision, we, the Jews, have been chosen and called, and we were awaiting the Messiah, for the praise of his glory.
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.
Like Mary, all Christians are called for a purpose. They received the same grace like that of Mary. Mary received before her birth through the Immaculate Conception. Christians receive it during their baptismal birth. Through baptism, Christians receive the “Baptismal Innocence.“ They are washed of all their sins. They become pure and clean.
The difference between us and Mary is not that Mary was chosen while we are not; rather, it is how we responded to God‘s call. Mary responded fully, unconditionally and did not allow herself to be contaminated by sin. We responded with hesitancy and half-heartedly. Tempted, we sinned. God asks of us. God has chosen us all. Mary had a big “YES“, ours is small “yes.“
The angel greeted Mary; “Rejoice! Do not fear, God has looked kindly on you.“ “You will conceive and bear a son.“ Mary was troubled. However, she assured: “nothing is impossible with God.“ Many times, we have heard the same greetings from God, inviting us to a church ministry, apostolate or office. We hesitated, feeling unworthy of the call, of the position. God many times assured us too that with Him we can do much. The moment we trust God, we begin to experience joy and fulfillment. Mary carried out God‘s plan for her through her response of trust, “let it be done to me as you said.“
St. Juan Diego
1st Reading: Is 30:19-21, 23-26
O people of Zion, who dwell in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. When you cry, he will listen; when he hears, he will answer.
When the Lord has given you the bread of anguish and the water of distress, he, your teacher will hide no longer. Your own eyes will see him, and your ear will listen to his words behind you: “This is the way, walk in it.“
He will then give rain for the seed you sow and make the harvest abundant from the crops you grow. On that day your cattle will graze in wide pastures. Your beasts of burden will eat silage tossed to them with pitchfork and shovel.
For on the day of the great slaughter, when fortresses fall, streams of water will flow on every mountain and lofty hill.
The light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun seven times greater, like the light of seven days, when Yahweh binds up the wounds of his people and heals the bruises inflicted by his blows.
Gospel: Mt 9:35–10:1, 5a, 6-8
Jesus went around all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom; and he cured every sickness and disease. When he saw the crowds, he was moved with pity; for they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are only few. Ask the master of the harvest to send workers to gather his harvest.“
Jesus called his Twelve disciples to him, and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to drive them out, and to heal every disease and sickness.
Jesus sent these Twelve on mission, with the instructions: “Do not visit pagan territory and do not enter a Samaritan town. Go, instead, to the lost sheep of the people of Israel.
Go, and proclaim this message: The kingdom of heaven is near. Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons. Freely have you received, freely give.
Isaiah‘s prophecy gives so much hope to the people waiting for the coming of the promised Messiah. He told his people that God will heal and comfort the people in their weeping and the land in its dryness. He assures them that God is merciful. Advent brings this hope to all who are waiting for the Lord.
Isaiah prophesied the messiah as a healer. The gospel today shows us how Jesus was healing. He did not only preach about the kingdom but “he cured every sickness and diseases.“ He made the experience the reign of God through His healing, coming not from the power He received, but, out of compassion and love of a shepherd‘s heart. Jesus wants to gather all the scattered people. This is the reason for His coming and dwelling among.
Jesus shared His power to His apostles to “drive the unclean spirits, heal the sick, raise the dead, clean the lepers.“ The power is not their own personal possession nor to hoard it for their own use. They were instructed: “Freely you received, freely give.“ The gift of one is a gift for everyone. They have to use their power especially for the lost, the last and the least. Jesus is our greatest gift. Let us share Him to others.