Bible Diary for February 11th – 17thBible Diary
Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Lev 131:-2, 44-46
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron,
“If someone has on his skin a scab or pustule or blotch
which appears to be the sore of leprosy,
he shall be brought to Aaron, the priest,
or to one of the priests among his descendants.
If the man is leprous and unclean,
the priest shall declare him unclean
by reason of the sore on his head.
“The one who bears the sore of leprosy
shall keep his garments rent and his head bare,
and shall muffle his beard;
he shall cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’
As long as the sore is on him he shall declare himself unclean,
since he is in fact unclean.
He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.”
2nd Reading: 1 Cor 10:31 – 11:1
Brothers and sisters,
Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,
do everything for the glory of God.
Avoid giving offense, whether to the Jews or Greeks or
the church of God,
just as I try to please everyone in every way,
not seeking my own benefit but that of the many,
that they may be saved.
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
Gospel: Mk 1:40-45
A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched him, and said to him,
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning the him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
He said to him, “See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them.”
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.
The first reading focuses on the priestly task of exclusion: declaring someone unclean and outside the community. In the gospel, Jesus reverses the process: he heals the man with leprosy and asks him to show himself to a priest who can declare him clean and admit him back to community. And Paul invites us to follow the example of Christ. What is “imitatio Christi“ other than doing the act of inclusion? Our impulse is to discriminate, differentiate, isolate, exclude, and if possible, annihilate. Unfortunately, many religious people use their religious texts to justify such acts of exclusion. But Paul insists that our model – the only model worth following – is that of Christ who came into this world to become like us, to teach us to embrace God‘s own impulse – an impulse that seeks to see the kinship we share with everything and thereby reach out, embrace, heal and include.
Pray for the gift of God‘s impulse to feel kinship with everything that is.
Reach out, embrace and include someone whom you have been keeping at arm‘s length for long.
1st Reading: Jas 1:1-11
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
to the twelve tribes in the dispersion, greetings.
Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters,
when you encounter various trials,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
And let perseverance be perfect,
so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
But if any of you lacks wisdom,
he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly,
and he will be given it.
But he should ask in faith, not doubting,
for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea
that is driven and tossed about by the wind.
For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord,
since he is a man of two minds, unstable in all his ways.
The brother in lowly circumstances
should take pride in high standing,
and the rich one in his lowliness,
for he will pass away “like the flower of the field.”
For the sun comes up with its scorching heat and dries up the grass,
its flower droops, and the beauty of its appearance vanishes.
So will the rich person fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
Gospel: Mk 8:11-13
The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with Jesus,
seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him.
He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said,
“Why does this generation seek a sign?
Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.”
Then he left them, got into the boat again,
and went off to the other shore.
This scriptural passage reminds us once again about our mortality. We need constant reminding because we tend to lull ourselves in the delusion that it will not happen to us for a long time. We see our friends going before us, our loved ones, people younger than us, but somehow we cannot imagine it happening to ourselves. So we need constant reminders: MEMENTO MORI. But this should not make us morbid but, rather, it should make us value life more than ever. The flowers of the field are beautiful but they will pass away. But their existence has been worthwhile because of the passersby who had been given joy by admiring its beauty. Mao Tse Tung said:“ Death can be as heavy as a mountain and as light as a feather“ What a mystical statement for an atheist. I don‘t know if for him a heavy death is better than one as light as feather. One can make an argument for both. A heavy death can be positive if it meant that one‘s life has been so worthwhile that one would be missed heavily by those who have benefitted from it. And a light death may be the consequence of light, meaningless life. In other words it means the difference between a significant life and a life without consequence. Reminding us of our mortality makes us want to live each moment significantly.
1st Reading: Jas 1:12-18
Blessed is he who perseveres in temptation,
for when he has been proven he will receive the crown of life
that he promised to those who love him.
No one experiencing temptation should say,
“I am being tempted by God”;
for God is not subject to temptation to evil,
and he himself tempts no one.
Rather, each person is tempted when lured and enticed by his desire.
Then desire conceives and brings forth sin,
and when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers and sisters:
all good giving and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change.
He willed to give us birth by the word of truth
that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
Gospel: Mk 8:14-21
The disciples had forgotten to bring bread,
and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.
Jesus enjoined them, “Watch out,
guard against the leaven of the Pharisees
and the leaven of Herod.”
They concluded among themselves that
it was because they had no bread.
When he became aware of this he said to them,
“Why do you conclude that it is because you have no bread?
Do you not yet understand or comprehend?
Are your hearts hardened?
Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?
And do you not remember,
when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand,
how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?”
They answered him, “Twelve.”
“When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand,
how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?”
They answered him, “Seven.”
He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”
No human being goes throughout life without trials. Of course these trials vary in kind and intensity. Whether big or small, the thing is it is OUR trial. Maybe others have bigger trials but THEY are the ones enduring them. Actually trials can be blessings. I was told that the Chinese character for “crisis“ is the same as “opportunity“ so crisis or trials can be opportunities for growth. It may sound like a cliché or motherhood statement but it is true that what does not break us, strengthens us. I am inspired when I read a personal testimony of a cancer survivor who says that her cancer is God‘s greatest gift to her, because it had made her closer to God. I am amazed at the ability of human beings to endure, for example, the concentration camps of the Nazis, the torture in prison camps. I read of a person who was put in isolation in a small dark room. The only light came from a slit below his door and a small weed happened to grow just in front of it. Everyday, he would lie on his stomach and watch the weed grow and he said later on that this was what kept him sane — this tiny green plant which to everyone else is absolutely useless. It is a consolation to know that God will not allow us to be tried beyond our strength. Somehow God will send us help to endure our trials patiently even if it is only a tiny green plant.
Sts. Cyril and Methodius
1st Reading: Jl 2:12-18
Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.
Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind him a blessing,
Offerings and libations
for the LORD, your God.
Blow the trumpet in Zion!
proclaim a fast,
call an assembly;
Gather the people,
notify the congregation;
Assemble the elders,
gather the children
and the infants at the breast;
Let the bridegroom quit his room
and the bride her chamber.
Between the porch and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep,
And say, “Spare, O LORD, your people,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
with the nations ruling over them!
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”
Then the LORD was stirred to concern for his land
and took pity on his people.
2nd Reading: 2 Cor 5:20 — 6:2
Brothers and sisters:
We are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.
Working together, then,
we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
For he says:
In an acceptable time I heard you,
and on the day of salvation I helped you.
Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.
Gospel: Mt 6:1-6, 16-18
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms,
do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
“When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
“When you fast,
do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast,
anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”
Ash Wednesday ushers the time of Lent where we are urged to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor. In doing these good things, Jesus warns us again about our EGO that insinuates itself into everything we do. In some other place in the Bible, Jesus tells us to go to our room when we pray and not to parade our piety. In still another place, He tells us not to let our left hand know what our right hand is doing. And here He advises us not to seek the admiration of people by our asceticism. It all comes down to one thing: PURITY OF INTENTION. What is it in us that we hunger so much for peoples‘ admiration, approbation, appreciation. And why are we so affected by what people say, by what people write in their Facebook, maybe bashing us for something we said or did. Psychologists will tell us it is because we lack self-esteem, we have inferiority complex, we lack inner security. This may be true. Maybe we really need to reflect and see for ourselves what we are, accept what we see and realize that nothing anyone will think or say of us can add or subtract to the person we are.
1st Reading: Dt 301:5-20
Moses said to the people:
“Today I have set before you
life and prosperity, death and doom.
If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God,
which I enjoin on you today,
loving him, and walking in his ways,
and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees,
you will live and grow numerous,
and the LORD, your God,
will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy.
If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen,
but are led astray and adore and serve other gods,
I tell you now that you will certainly perish;
you will not have a long life
on the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and occupy.
I call heaven and earth today to witness against you:
I have set before you life and death,
the blessing and the curse.
Choose life, then,
that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God,
heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.
For that will mean life for you,
a long life for you to live on the land that the LORD swore
he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
Gospel: Lk 9:22-25
Jesus said to his disciples:
“The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected
by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.”
Then he said to all,
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit himself?”
There is only one way of being a follower of Christ and that is to do what he did. He took up his cross. It is good to note that the word “daily“ is included in the injunction. We only need to take up the cross for today. Forget the crosses of the past and don‘t worry about the crosses of the future. What crosses do we have to carry today? — maybe an unfaithful husband, a rebellious child, a cranky mother in law. For a student, a failing grade, a misunderstanding with a best friend, a difficult exam. For some it could be heavy — diagnoses of terminal cancer, loss of a loved one, no money for food, for rent, etc. With the grace of God we make it to the end of the day. We still are alive. We kept our cool. Maybe somebody lent us money to pay our rent. We made up with our best friend. Or maybe we were not able to solve our problem — but we survived. At the end of the day, we lay down our cross. Sometimes some solution comes while we are asleep. Or maybe not. Any way we sleep in God‘s arms, we gather energy for tomorrow.
1st Reading: Is 58:1-9a
Thus says the Lord GOD:
Cry out full-throated and unsparingly,
lift up your voice like a trumpet blast;
Tell my people their wickedness,
and the house of Jacob their sins.
They seek me day after day,
and desire to know my ways,
Like a nation that has done what is just
and not abandoned the law of their God;
They ask me to declare what is due them,
pleased to gain access to God.
“Why do we fast, and you do not see it?
afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?”
Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits,
and drive all your laborers.
Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting,
striking with wicked claw.
Would that today you might fast
so as to make your voice heard on high!
Is this the manner of fasting I wish,
of keeping a day of penance:
That a man bow his head like a reed
and lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Do you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!
Gospel: Mt 9:14-15
The disciples of John approached Jesus and said,
“Why do we and the Pharisees fast much,
but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn
as long as the bridegroom is with them?
The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast.”
In 1970, a Synod of Bishops in Rome put out a programmatic document: JUSTICE IN THE WORLD. In the Introduction, the bishops categorically state: WORK FOR JUSTICE AND TRANSFORMATION OF THE WORLD APPEAR TO US AS CONSTITUTIVE DIMENSIONS OF PREACHING THE GOSPEL. This is just a modern formulation of what Christ said about what kind of fasting pleases him, namely — breaking the fetters of injustice and setting the oppressed free. This was what inspired the religious and priests of the 70s to opt to be in solidarity with the poor and the oppressed, linking arms with the workers in picket lines, joining the hunger strike of the urban poor against demolition, accompanying farmers on their quest to claim their lands. This is as true today as it was in the 70s. There is still so much injustice oppression and exploitation in our society — the struggle of the indigenous people for their ancestral lands, the insecurity of workers under contractualization, the helplessness of the victims of human trafficking, the chronic hunger of the poor. It is good to remember that our preaching of the good news is not complete unless we take up their cause and join in their struggle.
Seven Founders of the Order of Servites
1st Reading: Is 58:9b-14
Thus says the LORD:
If you remove from your midst oppression,
false accusation and malicious speech;
If you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
Then light shall rise for you in the darkness,
and the gloom shall become for you like midday;
Then the LORD will guide you always
and give you plenty even on the parched land.
He will renew your strength,
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring whose water never fails.
The ancient ruins shall be rebuilt for your sake,
and the foundations from ages past you shall raise up;
“Repairer of the breach,” they shall call you,
“Restorer of ruined homesteads.”
If you hold back your foot on the sabbath
from following your own pursuits on my holy day;
If you call the sabbath a delight,
and the LORD’s holy day honorable;
If you honor it by not following your ways,
seeking your own interests, or speaking with maliceB
Then you shall delight in the LORD,
and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will nourish you with the heritage of Jacob, your father,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
Gospel: Lk 5:27-32
Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, “Follow me.”
And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him.
Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house,
and a large crowd of tax collectors
and others were at table with them.
The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying,
“Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”
One thing that self-righteous people in Jesus‘ time could not understand was why Jesus seemed to be so comfortable with sinners and public offenders. This is also actually true today. I remember a co-Sister of mine who no longer wanted to talk to, or to be seen in the company of a former friend, actually also a former Sister because now she is “living in sin“ because she is with a man who is not yet her husband. I was puzzled because if you talk to her or be with her, does that necessarily mean you are condoning her action? Maybe at this point in her life, she needs friends more than ever. As Jesus said, healthy people don‘t need a doctor, but sick people do. I love reminding myself always what Pope Francis said the task of the Church is: TO HEAL WOUNDS AND WARM THE HEARTS OF PEOPLE. This is really what it means to be Christ-like or to be a follower of Christ – to do what he did – be with those who are shunned, judged and condemned by self-righteous people because they might need spiritual consolation or warm human companionship.