Bible Diary for February 10th – 16thBible Diary
1st Reading: Is 6:1-2a, 3-8:
In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted; the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: two to cover the face, two to cover the feet, and two to fly with. They were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is Yahweh Sabaoth. All the earth is filled with his glory!” At the sound of their voices the foundations of the threshold shook and the temple was filled with smoke. I said, “Poor me! I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips living among a people of unclean lips, and yet I have seen the King, Yahweh Sabaoth.” Then one of the seraphs flew to me; in his hands was a live coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar. He touched my mouth with it and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin is forgiven.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” I answered, “Here I am. Send me!”
2nd Reading: 1 Cor 15:1-11:
Let me remind you, brothers and sisters, of the Good News that I preached to you, and which you received, and on which, you stand firm. By that gospel, you are saved, provided that you hold to it, as I preached it. Otherwise, you will have believed in vain. In the first place, I have passed on to you what I, myself, received: that Christ died for our sins, as Scripture says; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas and then to the Twelve. Afterwards, he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters together; most of them are still alive, although some have already gone to rest.
Then he appeared to James, and after that, to all the apostles. And last of all, he appeared to the most despicable of them, this is, to me. For I am the last of the apostles, and I do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God. Nevertheless, by the grace of God, I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been without fruit. Far from it, I have toiled more than all of them, although, not I, rather the grace of God, in me. Now, whether it was I or they, this, we preach, and this, you have believed.
Gospel: Lk 5:1-11:
One day, as Jesus stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, with a crowd gathered around him listening to the word of God, he caught sight of two boats, left at the water’s edge by fishermen, now washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to pull out a little from the shore. There he sat, and continued to teach the crowd. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon replied, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing. But if you say so, I will lower the nets.”
This they did, and caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. They signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They came, and they filled both boats almost to the point of sinking. Upon seeing this, Simon Peter fell at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Leave me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and his companions were amazed at the catch they had made, and so were Simon’s partners, James and John, Zebedee’s sons. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. You will catch people from now on.” So they brought their boats to land and followed him, leaving everything.
Jesus can call any disciples he likes. Surely he could do better than us! But he called Simon, even though he knew he was “a sinful man.” He did not demand that Simon become a better man before he was qualified to follow. Jesus welcomed and called him just as he was. It was the same for Paul. It is the same for us. We just have to overcome our fears and accept the invitation. God’s grace can make up for whatever we are lacking. Lord, we know we are unworthy servants; but by your grace you can purify our hearts and use us to accomplish your will.
Our Lady of Lourdes
1st Reading: Gen 1:1-19:
In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw how good the light was. God then separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” Thus evening came, and morning followed–the first day.
Then God said, “Let there be a dome in the middle of the waters, to separate one body of water from the other.” And so it happened: God made the dome, and it separated the water above the dome from the water below it. God called the dome “the sky.” Evening came, and morning followed–the second day. Then God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin, so that the dry land may appear.”
And so it happened: the water under the sky was gathered into its basin, and the dry land appeared. God called the dry land “the earth,” and the basin of the water he called “the sea.” God saw how good it was. Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth vegetation: every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it.” And so it happened: the earth brought forth every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it. God saw how good it was. Evening came, and morning followed–the third day.
Then God said: “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky, to separate day from night. Let them mark the fixed times, the days and the years, and serve as luminaries in the dome of the sky, to shed light upon the earth.” And so it happened: God made the two great lights, the greater one to govern the day, and the lesser one to govern the night; and he made the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky, to shed light upon the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw how good it was. Evening came, and morning followed–the fourth day.
Gospel: Mk 6:53-56:
Having crossed the lake, they came ashore at Gennesaret, where they tied up the boat. As soon as they landed, people recognized Jesus, and ran to spread the news throughout the countryside. Wherever he was, they brought to him the sick lying on their mats; and wherever he went, to villages, towns or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplace, and begged him to let them touch just the fringe of his cloak. And all who touched him were cured.
The first reading describes the story of Creation: the origins of night and day, dry land, vegetation, and the starry firmament, all of which God made and declared good. We fast forward in the gospel reading to the world that human beings have created, filled with suffering, poverty, and sickness. Yet where Jesus travels, a new creation sweeps over the land: the sick are healed, even by touching the hem of his cloak. It is as if in the presence of Jesus the darkness recedes, health and wholeness prevail, dry land emerges from the flood, and the original goodness of Creation is restored.
We cannot expect to reproduce such miraculous effects. But the evidence of Christ’s presence in the church is not signified simply by worship and prayer. The true sign is the presence of goodness, the spread of justice and peace, the evidence of healing and wholeness in both the community and the wider society. Our efforts may represent no more than the hem of Jesus’ cloak, but whatever they touch is included in God’s new Creation, and it is good.
1st Reading: Gen 1:20–2:4a:
God said, “Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures, and on the earth let birds fly beneath the dome of the sky.” And so it happened: God created the great sea monsters and all kinds of swimming creatures with which the water teems, and all kinds of winged birds. God saw how good it was, and God blessed them, saying, “Be fertile, multiply, and fill the water of the seas; and let the birds multiply on the earth.” Evening came, and morning followed–the fifth day.
Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth all kinds of living creatures: cattle, creeping things, and wild animals of all kinds.” And so it happened: God made all kinds of wild animals, all kinds of cattle, and all kinds of creeping things of the earth. God saw how good it was. Then God said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the cattle, and over all the wild animals and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.” God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.
God blessed them, saying: “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth.” God also said: “See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food; and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground, I give all the green plants for food.” And so it happened. God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good. Evening came, and morning followed–the sixth day.
Thus the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed. Since on the seventh day God was finished with the work he had been doing, he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation. Such is the story of the heavens and the earth at their creation.
Gospel: Mk 7:1-13:
One day the Pharisees gathered around Jesus and with them were some teachers of the Law who had just come from Jerusalem. They noticed that some of his disciples were eating their meal with unclean hands, that is, without washing them. (…) So the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law asked him, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders, but eat with unclean hands?” Jesus answered, “You, shallow people! How well Isaiah prophesied of you when he wrote: This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
The worship they offer me is worthless, for what they teach are only human rules. (…)” And Jesus commented, “You have a fine way of disregarding the commandment of God in order to implant your own tradition. For example, Moses said: Do your duty to your father and your mother, and: Whoever curses his father or his mother is to be put to death. But according to you someone could say to his father or mother: ‘I already declared Corban, which means “offered to God,” what you could have expected from me.’ In this case, you no longer let him do anything for a father or mother. So you nullify the word of God through the tradition you have handed on. And you do many other things like that.”
Sometimes Jesus dispatches his critics with a single ringing reply. At other times, as in this case, we might feel his response could use some editing. Is it disrespectful to acknowledge this? Here would have been a good opportunity for Jesus simply to chastise those who obsess about rules and rituals while ignoring the spirit of the law. They obsess about eating with clean hands (which doesn’t, by the way, seem like such a bad thing), while ignoring the need for clean hearts. But the confusing illustration about someone who says, “I already declared Corban” is not one of his most memorable comebacks.
Nor is the rather weak add-on, “And you do many other things like that.” One can only imagine the frustration Jesus endured with so-called “teachers of the law” who nit-pick and criticize him and his disciples for every technical violation. The church has its own zealous guardians of the law. They complain to the bishop or send reports to Rome about any deviation from the rules or rubrics of worship, while ignoring injustice, or the call for mercy. They teach “human rules,” while ignoring the commandments that truly count: to love God and our neighbors as ourselves. And many other things like that.
1st Reading: Gen 2:4b-9, 15-17:
At the time when the LORD God made the earth and the heavens — while as yet there was no field shrub on earth and no grass of the field had sprouted, for the LORD God had sent no rain upon the earth
and there was no man to till the soil, but a stream was welling up out of the earth and was watering all the surface of the ground — the LORD God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being.
Then the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and he placed there the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God made various trees grow that were delightful to look at and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The LORD God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it. The LORD God gave man this order: “You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die.”
Gospel: Mk 7:14-23:
Jesus then called the people to him again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and try to understand. Nothing that enters a person from the outside can make that person unclean. It is what comes from within that makes a person unclean. Let everyone who has ears listen.” When Jesus got home and was away from the crowd, his disciples asked him about this saying, and he replied, “So even you are dull? Do you not see that whatever comes from outside cannot make a person unclean, since it enters not the heart but the stomach, and is finally passed out?” Thus Jesus declared that all foods are clean. And he went on, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him, for evil designs come out of the heart: theft, murder, adultery, jealousy, greed, maliciousness, deceit, indecency, slander, pride and folly. All these evil things come from within and make a person unclean.”
Biblical scholars might put this in the category of sayings attributed to Jesus that actually have their roots in the early life of the church. Recall how Peter, in the Acts of the Apostles, had a dream that prompted the insight that traditional dietary laws no longer applied to the church. This opened the way to a new policy of receiving gentiles into the church without the requirement of circumcision or submission to Jewish religious law. It is hard to believe that such a revelation would have been necessary for Peter had Jesus clearly taught that “all foods are clean.”
Nevertheless, that insight obviously had its roots in the memory of Jesus and his consistent spirit of freedom in the face of the law—as well as the opposition and controversy this provoked. Here Jesus defines the basis of this controversy by shifting the debate away from externally imposed laws to the content of our hearts. It is not our obedience to external rules or regulations that determines our righteousness or “cleanness” but the quality of what is inside us. “Cleanness” is not a word we tend to use. Substitute “Good Catholic.”
Sts. Cyril & Methodius
1st Reading: Gen 2:18-25:
The LORD God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.” So the LORD God formed out of the ground various wild animals and various birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each of them would be its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals; but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man.
So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The LORD God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man, the man said: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame.
Gospel: Mk 7:24-30:
When Jesus left that place, he went to the border of the Tyrian country. There, he entered a house, and did not want anyone to know he was there; but he could not remain hidden. A woman, whose small daughter had an evil spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet. Now this woman was a pagan, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter. Jesus told her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the puppies.” But she replied, “Sir, even the puppies under the table eat the crumbs from the children’s bread.” Then Jesus said to her, “You may go your way; because of such a response, the demon has gone out of your daughter.” And when the woman went home, she found her child lying in bed, and the demon gone.
Did Jesus, from the outset, consciously understand the full implications of his mission? Some theologians would suppose so. Yet there are numerous texts— such as this—that suggest that Jesus, fully consistent with his human nature, was capable of learning and widening his perspective. The occasion here is posed by an unnamed gentile woman who accosts Jesus and begs him to cast out a demon from her sick daughter. Surely she knew her action violated the codes of Jewish society. Jesus rebuffs her: “Let the children first be fed, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”
Undeterred, the woman replies with a logic that evidently strikes home. “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Apparently persuaded by her skillful answer, Jesus complies with her request. This unnamed woman deserves to be remembered as one of the foremothers of the gentile Church, one who intuited, even while Jesus lived, that his Gospel was for everyone. She also represents the countless faithful throughout history who, though pressured to keep silent, nevertheless persisted and challenged the Church to comprehend and act upon the liberating logic of salvation.
1st Reading: Gen 3:1-8:
Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the animals that the LORD God had made. The serpent asked the woman, “Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?” The woman answered the serpent: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman: “You certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is evil.”
The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. When they heard the sound of the LORD God moving about in the garden at the breezy time of the day, the man and his wife hid themselves from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
Gospel: Mk 7:31-37:
Again, Jesus set out: from the country of Tyre he passed through Sidon and, skirting the sea of Galilee, he came to the territory of Decapolis. There, a deaf man, who also had difficulty in speaking, was brought to him. They asked Jesus to lay his hand upon him. Jesus took him apart from the crowd, put his fingers into the man’s ears, and touched his tongue with spittle. Then, looking up to heaven, he said with a deep sigh, “Ephphata!” that is, “Be opened!” And immediately, his ears were opened, his tongue was loosened, and he began to speak clearly. Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone about it; but the more he insisted, the more they proclaimed it. The people were completely astonished and said, “He has done all things well; he makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.”
On one level there is a certain sameness to many of the healing miracles of Jesus. A blind man, a deaf man, a sick child, a woman with a flow of blood, a man possessed with demons: Jesus encounters them, they are restored to health, the people are astonished. Yet there are notable variations. Sometimes Jesus heals with a word; sometimes, as in this story, after performing a strange shamanic ritual. Sometimes there is an emphasis on the faith of the sick person, or of his friends, in eliciting the miracle; at other times, as in this case, it is more in the nature of a patient being brought in to see the physician.
Yet for each of those who is healed, the encounter is unique, in fact the only truly significant event—the creation of a new world! Before and after! No wonder that the “patients” are warned to keep quiet, the more they need to talk about it! Something more than a deaf man’s ears have been “opened!” It will not be closed again. Jesus did not bring healing just for people in general, or for “the world” in some generic sense,” but for individual men and women. For you and me.
1st Reading: Gen 3:9-24:
The LORD God called to Adam and asked him, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself.” Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked? You have eaten, then, from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!” The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.” The LORD God then asked the woman, “Why did you do such a thing?” The woman answered, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.”
Then the LORD God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you shall be banned from all the animals and from all the wild creatures; On your belly shall you crawl, and dirt shall you eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” To the woman he said: “I will intensify the pangs of your childbearing; in pain shall you bring forth children. Yet your urge shall be for your husband, and he shall be your master.”
To the man he said: “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat, “Cursed be the ground because of you! In toil shall you eat its yield all the days of your life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you, as you eat of the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face shall you get bread to eat, Until you return to the ground, from which you were taken; For you are dirt, and to dirt you shall return.”
The man called his wife Eve, because she became the mother of all the living. For the man and his wife the LORD God made leather garments, with which he clothed them. Then the LORD God said: “See! The man has become like one of us, knowing what is good and what is evil! Therefore, he must not be allowed to put out his hand to take fruit from the tree of life also, and thus eat of it and live forever.” The LORD God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he had been taken. When he expelled the man, he settled him east of the garden of Eden; and he stationed the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword, to guard the way to the tree of life.
Gospel: Mk 8:1-10:
Jesus was in the midst of another large crowd, that obviously had nothing to eat. So he called his disciples and said to them, “I feel sorry for these people, because they have been with me for three days and now have nothing to eat. If I send them to their homes hungry, they will faint on the way; some of them have come a long way.” His disciples replied, “Where, in a deserted place like this, could we get enough bread to feed these people?” He asked them, “How many loaves have you?” And they answered, “Seven.”
Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Taking the seven loaves and giving thanks, he broke them, and handed them to his disciples to distribute. And they distributed them among the people. They also had some small fish. So Jesus said a blessing, and asked that these be shared as well. The people ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Now those who had eaten were about four thousand in number. Jesus sent them away, and immediately got into the boat with his disciples, and went to the region of Dalmanutha.
In the memory of the disciples there were many things that “happened.” “Remember the amazing time when he fed a crowd with seven loaves of bread?” But there must have come a time when they realized that these were also signs that fit together in a deep pattern that couldn’t be discerned in the moment. Surely something more was happening that day than just a miraculous meal. In time the disciples would struggle to put these memories together. They remembered his prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread.” They remembered his mysterious blessing of the Passover bread at his Last Supper.
All these memories must have come together with the recollection of an impromptu banquet when “the people ate and were satisfied.” Jesus didn’t just offer bread; he offered life, sustenance, blessing—an answer to people’s deepest hunger. They could not of course envision how this meal would be reenacted one day in huge outdoor Masses: the long lines at various stations, the faithful proceeding patiently to receive the Bread of Life. But it is also reenacted in the most ordinary liturgy, whenever two or three are gathered together in his name. We remember. And we are satisfied.