Bible Diary for February 19th – 25thBible Diary
7th Sunday in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Lev 19:1-2, 17-18
Yahweh spoke to Moses and said, “Speak to the entire assembly of the people of Israel and say to them: Be holy for I, Yahweh, your God, am holy.
Do not hate your brother in your heart; rebuke your neighbor frankly so as not to share in his guilt. Do not seek revenge or nurture a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am Yahweh.
2nd Reading: 1 Cor 3:16-23
Do you not know that you are God’s temple, and that God’s Spirit abides within you? If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him. God’s temple is holy, and you are this temple.
Do not deceive yourselves. If anyone of you considers himself wise in the ways of the world, let him become a fool, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s eyes. To this, Scripture says: God catches the wise in their own wisdom. It also says: The Lord knows the reasoning of the wise, that it is useless.
Because of this, let no one boast about human beings, for everything belongs to you; Paul, Apollos, Cephas life, death, the present and the future. Everything is yours, and you, you belong to Christ, and Christ is of God.
Gospel: Mt 5:38-48
Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard, that it was said: An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you this: do not oppose evil with evil; if someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn and offer the other. If someone sues you in court for your shirt, give him your coat as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give when asked, and do not turn your back on anyone who wants to borrow from you.
“You have heard, that it was said: Love your neighbor and do not do good to your enemy. But this I tell you: love your enemies; and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in Heaven. For he makes his sun rise on both the wicked and the good; and he gives rain to both the just and the unjust.
“If you love those who love you, what is special about that? Do not even tax collectors do as much? And if you are friendly only to your friends, what is so exceptional about that? Do not even the pagans do as much? As for you, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Yahweh invites people to share in his holiness. Once we do so, we become the temple of God, where His Spirit dwells. Jesus explains how being holy and God’s temple demands certain behavioral and relational imperatives. Being God’s temple, we are invited to practice everyday holiness. But doing so goes against the wisdom of the world and would invite world’s rejection. You might have to walk a lonely path. Are you ready for walking this narrow path?
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, make my heart your home.
Mend a broken relationship in your life.
1st Reading: Sir 1:1-10
All wisdom comes from the Lord and endures with him forever.
The grains of sand, the drops of rain and the days of eternity, who can count them?
The height of heaven, the extent of the earth and the depths of the abyss, who can measure them?
Wisdom was created before all things and the prudent intellect before the beginning of time.
To whom was the source of Wisdom revealed? Who has known her secret designs?
One alone is wise and greatly to be feared. The One who is seated upon his throne.
The Lord himself created Wisdom. He looked on her and knew her value. He poured her out over all his works; upon all mortal beings, in accordance with his goodness. He lavished her on those who love him.
Gospel: Mk 9:14-29*
When they came to the place where they had left the disciples, they saw many people around them and some teachers of the law arguing with them. When the people saw Jesus, they were astonished and ran to greet him.
He asked, “What are you arguing about with them?” A man answered him from the crowd, “Master, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit, deaf and mute. Whenever the spirit seizes him, it throws him down and he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth and becomes stiff all over. I asked your disciples to drive the spirit out, but they could not.”
Jesus replied, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him.
As soon as the spirit saw Jesus, it shook and convulsed the boy, who fell on the ground and began rolling about, foaming at the mouth. Then Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” He replied, “From childhood. And it has often thrown him into the fi re and into the water to destroy him. If you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.”
Jesus said to him, “Why do you say, ‘If you can?’ All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately, the father of the boy cried out, “I do believe, but help the little faith I have.”
Jesus saw that the crowd was increasing rapidly, so he ordered the evil spirit, “Dumb and deaf spirit, I command you: Leave the boy and never enter him again.” The evil spirit shook and convulsed the boy and with a terrible shriek came out. The boy lay like a corpse and people said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and the boy stood up.
After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive out the spirit?” And he answered, “Only prayer can drive out this kind, nothing else.”
Last Saturday we spoke about having the Faith of our ancestors. Today we encounter in the Gospel a man who confesses that he has little faith and so he asks the Lord to help his little faith. His humble admission of his weak faith moved the Lord to act on the plea of the helpless father.
Sometimes we can feel that we are most unworthy of Divine intervention. When we think thus, we put limits to what God can do. This father with little faith tells us, however, that when we humbly admit our limitations we eventually surrender to God’s powerful intervention! Little faith we indeed may have, but if we humble ourselves before the powerful God so many great things can happen to us!
In truth, true Faith is recognizing that we indeed are helpless without the grace of God. The flipside, so to speak, of faith is humility. One who has great humility will have his little faith complimented! We pray with the distraught father in the Gospel today: “Lord, help the little faith I have!“
St. Peter Damian
1st Reading: Sir 2:1-11
My son, if you have decided to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials. Keep your heart upright and remain resolute; do not be upset in the time of adversity.
Hold fast to the Lord, do not separate yourself from him so that you may be successful to the end of your days. Accept all that happens to you, be patient when you are humbled, for as gold is tested in the fire, so those acceptable to God are tested in the crucible of humiliation. Have confidence in him and he will take care of you; follow the right path and hope in him.
You who fear the Lord, wait for his mercy and do not turn away lest you fall. You who fear the Lord, trust him and you will not lose your reward. You who fear the Lord, hope for all good things; hope for eternal joy and mercy.
Remember what happened to your ancestors. Who has ever trusted in the Lord and been confounded? Who has persevered in fear of the Lord and been abandoned? Who has called upon him and not been heard?
For the Lord is compassion and loving-kindness; he forgives our sins and saves us in time of distress.
Gospel: Mk 9:30-37
After leaving that place, they made their way through Galilee; but Jesus did not want people to know where he was because he was teaching his disciples. And he told them, “The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, but three days after he has been killed, he will rise.“ The disciples, however, did not understand these words and they were afraid to ask him what he meant.
They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, Jesus asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?“ But they did not answer, because they had been arguing about who was the greatest.
Then he sat down, called the Twelve and said to them, “If someone wants to be first, let him be last of all and servant of all.“ Then he took a little child, placed him in their midst, and putting his arms around him he said to them, “Whoever welcomes a child such as this in my name, welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me, welcomes not me, but the One who sent me.“
The opening verse of our reading today, “My son, if you have decided to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials“ is beautifully echoed by St. Benedict, father of the Benedictine Order, in the prologue of his Holy Rule for monks. One who seeks to take seriously the Christian life, like the monks or any other serious minded Christian, must be ready to endure discipline. Perfection in the Christian way of life demands much sacrifice. In particular, St. Benedict taught the monks to observe the discipline of obedience and to grow in humility, or more precisely, to be willing to be humiliated! St. Benedict spoke of 12 steps or grades of humility!
Jesus in the Gospel was also teaching his disciples in much the same vein like Ben Sirach, our first reading, when He told them of His impending suffering, his humiliation. Unfortunately, his disciples could not quite understand their Master. Jesus was teaching them that the way to the “top“ was by going down “below!“ Such is the Christian paradox! To be great one must become little! To lead, one must serve!
Today we are called to become wise! Ben Sirach tells us to be resolute, and when the going gets tough, the tough get going but humbly and in obedience like Jesus who embraced death, death on a cross!
Chair of St. Peter
1st Reading: 1 Pt 5:1-4
I now address myself to those elders among you; I, too, am an elder, and a witness to the sufferings of Christ, hoping to share the glory that is to be revealed. Shepherd the flock which God has entrusted to you, guarding it, not out of obligation, but, willingly, for God’s sake; not as one looking for a reward, but with a generous heart; do not lord it over, those in your care, rather be an example to your flock. Then, when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will be given a crown of unfading glory.
Gospel: Mt 16:13-19
After that, Jesus came to Caesarea Philippi. He asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?“ They said, “For some of them, you are John the Baptist; for others Elijah, or Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.“
Jesus asked them, “But you, who do you say I am?“ Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.“ Jesus replied, “It is well for you, Simon Barjona, for it is not flesh or blood that has revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.
“And now I say to you: You are Peter; and on this Rock I will build my Church; and never will the powers of death overcome it.
“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you unbind on earth shall be unbound in heaven.“
Today we celebrate a unique Feast, namely, “The Chair of Peter!“ It is not Peter as a Saint that we celebrate but it is his “Chair“ that gets the honor! Why a feast day for a “Chair?“
Today’s feast honors the authority given to Peter. The “Chair“ symbolizes the authority of Peter. When we have a committee we often have a “chairman“ who heads it. For the Church as an institution it is Peter, and his successors the Popes, who occupy that post or office. Peter, as it were, is the “chairman“ of the Church founded by Christ.
From that “Chair“ Peter, and all who succeed Peter, exercise the teaching authority. From that “Chair“ or more technically “ex Cathedra,“ the Pope makes official pronouncements on Faith and Morals. It is an authority the Pope exercises on the basis of Christ’s own words in todays’ Gospel. When, therefore, the Pope teaches on questions of Faith and Morals, he speaks in the name of Jesus. How awesome is the trust of Christ on whoever seats on the “Chair!“ Christ delegates to Peter, and his successors, full powers! Christ gives to Peter the “Keys of Heaven!“ If Christ Jesus himself put his full trust and confidence in Peter, who am I to question and distrust the one seated on the “Chair of Peter?“
1st Reading: Sir 5:1-8
Do not rely on your wealth. Do not say, “I am self-sufficient.“ Do not let yourself be carried away by greed and violence; they would make you their slave.
Do not say, “Who can stop me?“ For the Lord has power to punish you. Do not say, “I have sinned and nothing has happened!“ For the Lord bides his time.
Do not be so sure of pardon when you are heaping sin upon sin. Do not say, “His compassion is great! He will forgive the vast number of my sins!“ For with him is mercy but also anger; his fury will be poured out on sinners.
Do not delay your return to the Lord, do not put it off from day to day. For suddenly the anger of the Lord will blaze forth and you will perish on the day of reckoning.
Do not rely on riches wrongfully acquired for they will be of no use to you on the day of wrath.
Gospel: Mk 9:41-50
Jesus said to his disciples: “If anyone gives you a drink of water because you belong to Christ and bear his name, truly, I say to you, he will not go without reward. If anyone should cause one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble and sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a great millstone around his neck.
“If your hand makes you fall into sin, cut it off! It is better for you to enter life without a hand, than with two hands to go to hell, to the fire that never goes out. And if your foot makes you fall into sin, cut it off! It is better for you to enter life without a foot, than with both feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye makes you fall into sin, tear it out! It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, keeping both eyes, to be thrown into hell, where the worms that eat them never die, and the fire never goes out. The fire itself will preserve them.
“Salt is a good thing; but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.“
Ben Sirach in our first reading speaks of one of the most dangerous sins the sin of PRESUMPTION. Many fall into this sin. This sin makes the sinner presume that he or she will always have the time to repent in the future. The sinner says “I will have time to be good when I grow old or retire.“
Postponing repentance is dangerous. One presumes that one has control of ones’ own time. That is farthest from the truth! Death may come suddenly! Tomorrow may never come to the sinner! Moreover, postponing repentance to an uncertain future eventually can make the sinner so callous that return to God may become too difficult. At that point one has become like the salt that has lost its saltiness that the Gospel speaks of today.
Presumption is an affront also to the mercy of God. Thus Ben Sirach tells us that one who takes sin lightly is courting the anger of God who hates sin! Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the American poet of the 19th century, has a beautiful poem on Divine Retribution
Though the mills of God
Yet they grind exceeding small;
Though with patience
He stands waiting,
With exactness grinds He all.
Presumptuous sinners, beware! God can exact an accounting of every sin on judgment day!
1st Reading: Sir 6:5-17
A gentle word makes many friends, an agreeable tongue calls forth gracious replies. Let your friends be many; but your counselors, one in a thousand!
If you would gain a friend, begin by testing him and do not put your confidence in him too quickly. For there is the friend who is such when it suits him but he does not remain faithful in the time of your adversity.
There is the friend who becomes an enemy and, to your confusion, makes known why you quarreled.
There is the friend who shares your table but does not remain faithful when things go against you. In times of prosperity he will be like your shadow and he will speak freely to those of your household. But if you are humiliated, he will turn against you and will avoid meeting you.
Distance yourself from your enemies and be careful about your friends.
The faithful friend is a secure refuge; whoever has found one has found a treasure. A faithful friend is beyond all price; hold him as priceless. A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy, and those who fear the Lord will find one.
Whoever fears the Lord will make true friends for, as a man is, such will his friend be.
Gospel: Mk 10:1-12
Jesus then left that place and went to the province of Judea, beyond the Jordan River. Once more, crowds gathered around him and, once more, he taught them, as he always did. Some (Pharisees came and) put him to the test with this question: “Is it right for a husband to divorce his wife?“ He replied, “What law did Moses give you?“ They answered, “Moses allowed us to write a certificate of dismissal in order to divorce.“
Then Jesus said to them, “Moses wrote this law for you, because you have hearts of stone. But in the beginning of creation God made them male and female; and because of this, man has to leave father and mother and be joined to his wife; and the two shall become one body. So, they are no longer two, but one body. Therefore, let no one separate what God has joined.“
When they were indoors at home, the disciples again asked him about this, and he told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against his wife; and the woman who divorces her husband and marries another, also commits adultery.“
The journey back to the Father is a journey made best with companions, with friends. Do you have a soul friend? One who can walk with you as a fellow pilgrim? One who can share your dreams? One who can laugh with you and cry with you? One who accepts you with all your “pluses“ and “minuses.“ One who loves you as you are? If you do have such a friend, blessed are you indeed! Ben Sirach tells us that a “faithful friend is a priceless treasure!“
Ben Sirach further tells us that the foundation of true friendship is the fear of the Lord. It means that a true friend will not endanger the eternal salvation of a friend. God’s law establishes the parameters of the relationship of true friends. Such was the friendship of St. Francis and St. Claire, St. Basil and St. Gregory, of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. These blessed Saints were true friends as they had their gazes fixed on God even as they held each other’s hands.
Today would be a good time to remember our dear friends. We thank our friends who have stood by our side through thick and thin. We thank our friends who have been faithful to us. May the good Lord reward them all!
1st Reading: Sir 17:1-15
The Lord created man from the earth and let him return to earth. He settled a fixed time for them and a set number of days, giving them power over everything on earth. He endowed them with a strength like his own, making them in his own image.
He put the fear of them in all living things, thus they had mastery over the animals and birds. He endowed them with knowledge; he gave them tongue and eyes, ears and a mind to think with.
He filled them with wisdom and knowledge; he taught them good and evil. He put his own eye in their hearts so they would understand the greatness of his works. They will praise his holy name and relate the magnificence of his creation.
He gave them revealed knowledge as well and handed over to them the law of life. He established an everlasting Covenant with them and let them know his judgments.
Human eyes saw the splendor of the glory of God; their ears heard the grandeur of his voice. He said to them, “Keep yourselves from all wrongdoing,“ and to each of them he gave commands regarding his neighbor.
Their conduct is always before the Lord; they cannot escape his sight.
Gospel: Mk 10:13-16
People were bringing their little children to him to have him touch them; and the disciples rebuked them for this.
When Jesus noticed it, he was very angry and said, “Let the children come to me and don’t stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.“ Then he took the children in his arms and, laying his hands on them, blessed them.
One of the most memorable moments of the visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines was his time with families at the MOA SMX. There is that beautiful picture of the smiling Pope Francis surrounded by children! Oh how children attract the attention of the Holy Father! I remember how the escorts of the Holy Father would pick out a parent with small children and bring them to the Holy Father!
Jesus in the Gospel of today was himself surrounded by little children. And when the disciples tried to prevent the children from drawing near to him, Jesus rebuked them! Jesus loves little children!
Our Lord and the Holy Father has shown us the importance of children in our society. It is so sad when we society begin to take children for granted. It is so sad when children are abused by adults. We must learn once again to value children as Jesus values every child. Like Pope Francis, we must pay special attention to our children today. Do bless the children you meet today!