Bible Diary for February 25th – March 3rdBible Diary
Second Sunday of Lent
1st Reading: Gen 221:-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18
God put Abraham to the test.
He called to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am!” he replied.
Then God said:
“Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah.
There you shall offer him up as a holocaust
on a height that I will point out to you.”
When they came to the place of which God had told him,
Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.
Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.
But the LORD’s messenger called to him from heaven,
“Here I am!” he answered.
“Do not lay your hand on the boy,” said the messenger.
“Do not do the least thing to him.
I know now how devoted you are to God,
since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.”
As Abraham looked about,
he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.
So he went and took the ram
and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son.
Again the LORD’s messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said:
“I swear by myself, declares the LORD,
that because you acted as you did
in not withholding from me your beloved son,
I will bless you abundantly
and make your descendants as countless
as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore;
your descendants shall take possession
of the gates of their enemies,
and in your descendants all the nations of the earth
shall find blessing—
all this because you obeyed my command.”
2nd Reading: Rom 8:31b-34
Brothers and sisters:
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son
but handed him over for us all,
how will he not also give us everything else along with him?
Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones?
It is God who acquits us, who will condemn?
Christ Jesus it is who died—or, rather, was raised—
who also is at the right hand of God,
who indeed intercedes for us.
Gospel: Mk 9:2-10
Jesus took Peter, James, and John
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
from the cloud came a voice,
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.
As they were coming down from the mountain,
he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what rising from the dead meant.
We are presented with the classic stories of “Akedah“ (the sacrifice of Isaac) on Mount Moriah and the transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor. Both the stories deal with the theme of “son.“ Paul invites us to reflect on the depths of God‘s love that seeks to make us all his beloved children through his Son, Jesus. Did God really ask Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac? Most probably He didn‘t. For the god who asks Abraham to offer up his only son is the Canaanite god – the narrative uses the word Elohim for this pantheon of gods. But the god who intervenes and prevents the sacrifice is Yahweh, the One True God. In all likelihood, Abraham, who lived among the Canaanites and was familiar with their practice of offering up children to their gods, might have been convinced that he also must do so even if Isaac was the child of the promise. Such was his trust in and love of God, which might have gladdened the One True God who saw the reflection of His own heart in Abraham – a heart that would give up anything for the sake of love.
Thank you, Lord, for loving me to the point of giving up your own Son for me.
Spend some 20 minutes listening to Christ, God‘s beloved Son, talking to you of his Father‘s love for you.
1st Reading: Dn 9:4b-10
“Lord, great and awesome God,
you who keep your merciful covenant toward those who love you
and observe your commandments!
We have sinned, been wicked and done evil;
we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws.
We have not obeyed your servants the prophets,
who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes,
our fathers, and all the people of the land.
Justice, O Lord, is on your side;
we are shamefaced even to this day:
we, the men of Judah, the residents of Jerusalem,
and all Israel, near and far,
in all the countries to which you have scattered them
because of their treachery toward you.
O LORD, we are shamefaced, like our kings, our princes, and our fathers,
for having sinned against you.
But yours, O Lord, our God, are compassion and forgiveness!
Yet we rebelled against you
and paid no heed to your command, O LORD, our God,
to live by the law you gave us through your servants the prophets.”
Gospel: Lk 6:36-38
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”
I love this scriptural passage because it is so vivid and graphic in its description of the bountifulness of one‘s reward when one is generous. In my life I have seen the effect of what I call “extravagant generosity.“ In a convent, a Sister asked excuse from her superior for having missed lauds because she overslept. The Superior said, “I knew you would be late because you were still at your computer late in the night“. In another house, a Sister also asked her Superior the same excuse. The Superior said: “Sister, I think you really are tired why don‘t you sleep longer this whole week.“ The Sister was overwhelmed by her Superior‘s generosity. She slept longer for 2 days and on the third day decided she did not need it anymore and woke up for Lauds. See the difference? My Sister one time paid a tricycle driver 500 pesos instead of the actual fare of 60 pesos. You should see the face of the driver light up like an electric bulb and promptly treated her co-tricycle drivers to a halohalo (dessert) blow-out. Don‘t just be generous. Be extravagantly generous!
1st Reading: Is 1:10, 16-20
Hear the word of the LORD,
princes of Sodom!
Listen to the instruction of our God,
people of Gomorrah!
Wash yourselves clean!
Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes;
cease doing evil; learn to do good.
Make justice your aim: redress the wronged,
hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.
Come now, let us set things right,
says the LORD:
Though your sins be like scarlet,
they may become white as snow;
Though they be crimson red,
they may become white as wool.
If you are willing, and obey,
you shall eat the good things of the land;
But if you refuse and resist,
the sword shall consume you:
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken!
Gospel: Mt 23:1-12
Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
“The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’
As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called ‘Master’;
you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Jesus never tires of exhorting his disciples to be humble. He reminds them of this on many occasions. He warned the sons of Zebedee against aspiring for high positions. He related the the story of the Pharisee and the Publican to illustrate this truism. He gave an object lesson of this when he washed the feet of the apostles. He reverses the world‘s idea of greatness by saying that the greatest should be the servant of all. But the ego can be very wily. It can insinuate itself even in humility. There is a phrase “humility with a hook“ meaning you put on a humble mien so people can admire your humility. There is a false humility when we deprecate ourselves so that people will contradict us and say the opposite. One can be proud of being humble. Perhaps the basis for true humility is a realistic self-knowledge and a conscious self-acceptance. So one does not underestimate or overestimate oneself. One recognizes one‘s gifts and uses them for the good. But one is also conscious of one‘s limitations and “does not bite more than one can chew“ Lord, help us to really know and accept ourselves and give us the grace to be authentically humble.
1st Reading: Jer 18:18-20
The people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem said,
“Come, let us contrive a plot against Jeremiah.
It will not mean the loss of instruction from the priests,
nor of counsel from the wise, nor of messages from the prophets.
And so, let us destroy him by his own tongue;
let us carefully note his every word.”
Heed me, O LORD,
and listen to what my adversaries say.
Must good be repaid with evil
that they should dig a pit to take my life?
Remember that I stood before you
to speak in their behalf,
to turn away your wrath from them.
Gospel: Mt 20:17-28
As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem,
he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves,
and said to them on the way,
“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem,
and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests
and the scribes,
and they will condemn him to death,
and hand him over to the Gentiles
to be mocked and scourged and crucified,
and he will be raised on the third day.”
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her, “What do you wish?”
She answered him,
“Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.”
Jesus said in reply,
“You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”
They said to him, “We can.”
“My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left,
this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard this,
they became indignant at the two brothers.
But Jesus summoned them and said,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus as a Formator never ceased to point out to his disciples the difference between the values of the world and the values of the Kingdom of God he was establishing on earth. One of the most glaring contrast of these 2 values is the understanding of power. The world‘s view of power is to use it for domination, exploitation, oppression or for vainglory. When one has wealth or in a position of power, one expects adulation, admiration, praise, prestige. One wants to be in the center of everything. One can also use power to coerce people to do what one wants them to do, to exploit their gifts to augment one‘s wealth. Worse still, one can use power to cause suffering to people who oppose and do not follow one‘s will. In contrast to this, Jesus wishes us to use power for the good of people, to serve them in their needs, to make them bloom. Pope Francis is truly a disciple of Jesus in this regard. He uses the power and prestige of the papacy to give joy to people, to heal the sick, to denounce those who cause poverty and suffering in the world.
1st Reading: Jer 17:5-10
Thus says the LORD:
Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings,
who seeks his strength in flesh,
whose heart turns away from the LORD.
He is like a barren bush in the desert
that enjoys no change of season,
But stands in a lava waste,
a salt and empty earth.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose hope is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted beside the waters
that stretches out its roots to the stream:
It fears not the heat when it comes,
its leaves stay green;
In the year of drought it shows no distress,
but still bears fruit.
More tortuous than all else is the human heart,
beyond remedy; who can understand it?
I, the LORD, alone probe the mind
and test the heart,
To reward everyone according to his ways,
according to the merit of his deeds.
Gospel: Lk 16:19-31
Jesus said to the Pharisees:
“There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen
and dined sumptuously each day.
And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,
who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps
that fell from the rich man’s table.
Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.
When the poor man died,
he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.
The rich man also died and was buried,
and from the netherworld, where he was in torment,
he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off
and Lazarus at his side.
And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me.
Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue,
for I am suffering torment in these flames.’
Abraham replied, ‘My child,
remember that you received what was good during your lifetime
while Lazarus likewise received what was bad;
but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.
Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established
to prevent anyone from crossing
who might wish to go from our side to yours
or from your side to ours.’
He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him
to my father’s house,
for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them,
lest they too come to this place of torment.’
But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets.
Let them listen to them.’
He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham,
but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
Then Abraham said,
‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets,
neither will they be persuaded
if someone should rise from the dead.’”
The most important religious truth is GOD IS WITHIN EACH ONE OF US. This is the insight of every religion. The Buddhist calls this THE TRUE SELF. The Hindus are more radical in their statement: GOD IS IN YOU AS YOU. If we truly believe this, then we can pray everywhere and our very person is sacred. The most important prayer is the one that goes within oneself to discover, to commune with and to be one with this Divine in us. This is what meditation is all about. It is just being SILENT. It is being PRESENT TO THE PRESENCE. Some can experience moments of this union. In other religions, it can be called enlightenment, kensho. It is a profound experience of oneness with everything that is because the ONE within us is EVERYTHING THAT IS. It is totally God‘s gift and cannot be earned. Sometimes it is experienced by someone totally undeserving meaning that this person may not even be religious or may not even know how to meditate. The Spirit blows where she wills. If one has not experienced this, it is also all right. It does not erase the fact that God is within us. What is important is that one is there when God chooses to give us this experience. It is like in a pottery. The important thing is for the clay to be there. It is the potter who will give it its shape.
1st Reading: Gen 37:3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28a
Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons,
for he was the child of his old age;
and he had made him a long tunic.
When his brothers saw that their father loved him best of all his sons,
they hated him so much that they would not even greet him.
One day, when his brothers had gone
to pasture their father’s flocks at Shechem,
Israel said to Joseph,
“Your brothers, you know, are tending our flocks at Shechem.
Get ready; I will send you to them.”
So Joseph went after his brothers and caught up with them in Dothan.
They noticed him from a distance,
and before he came up to them, they plotted to kill him.
They said to one another: “Here comes that master dreamer!
Come on, let us kill him and throw him into one of the cisterns here;
we could say that a wild beast devoured him.
We shall then see what comes of his dreams.”
When Reuben heard this,
he tried to save him from their hands, saying,
“We must not take his life.
Instead of shedding blood,” he continued,
“just throw him into that cistern there in the desert;
but do not kill him outright.”
His purpose was to rescue him from their hands
and return him to his father.
So when Joseph came up to them,
they stripped him of the long tunic he had on;
then they took him and threw him into the cistern,
which was empty and dry.
They then sat down to their meal.
Looking up, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead,
their camels laden with gum, balm and resin
to be taken down to Egypt.
Judah said to his brothers:
“What is to be gained by killing our brother and concealing his blood?
Rather, let us sell him to these Ishmaelites,
instead of doing away with him ourselves.
After all, he is our brother, our own flesh.”
His brothers agreed.
They sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver.
Gospel: Mt 21:33-43, 45-46
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
“Hear another parable.
There was a landowner who planted a vineyard,
put a hedge around it,
dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.
Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.
When vintage time drew near,
he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.
But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat,
another they killed, and a third they stoned.
Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones,
but they treated them in the same way.
Finally, he sent his son to them,
thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another,
‘This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’
They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?”
They answered him,
AHe will put those wretched men to a wretched death
and lease his vineyard to other tenants
who will give him the produce at the proper times.”
Jesus said to them, ADid you never read in the Scriptures:
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes?
Therefore, I say to you,
the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables,
they knew that he was speaking about them.
And although they were attempting to arrest him,
they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet.
God‘s ways are really not our ways. Sometimes we wonder why a person whom we consider unfit for an office is chosen to occupy that office. Of course when Jesus uttered these words, he was referring to himself. He was rejected by his people and yet He was chosen to be the Savior of these very people. Another similar thing that Jesus said is very true: THERE IS NO PROPHET IN ONE‘S OWN COUNTRY. The ones closest to him were blinded by this very closeness, because if you had been the neighbor of the Holy Family in Nazareth and you have interacted with them day in and day out, you have seen Mary wash clothes. Maybe St. Joseph repaired your chair. Maybe even Jesus played with your children. Can you really believe that Mary is the Mother of God and Jesus is the Son of God? We really have to learn to see from God‘s perspective. And even if we are justified about our misgivings about people we can still get consolation from the fact that: GOD CAN WRITE STRAIGHT WITH CROOKED LINES!
St. Katharine Drexel
1st Reading: Mi 7:14-15, 18-20
Shepherd your people with your staff,
the flock of your inheritance,
That dwells apart in a woodland,
in the midst of Carmel.
Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead,
as in the days of old;
As in the days when you came from the land of Egypt,
show us wonderful signs.
Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt
and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance;
Who does not persist in anger forever,
but delights rather in clemency,
And will again have compassion on us,
treading underfoot our guilt?
You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins;
You will show faithfulness to Jacob,
and grace to Abraham,
As you have sworn to our fathers
from days of old.
Gospel: Lk 15:1-3, 11-32
Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them Jesus addressed this parable.
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’
So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
‘How many of my father’s hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”‘
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly, bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
‘Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.
But when your son returns
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.’”
There is a special place in the heart of Jesus for sinners. He consistently welcomes them, heals them, dines with them. There is a special intimacy when one dines with somebody. It means that one accepts that person. It implies friendship and trust. There are many people in our times that are shunned by “polite society“ because they don‘t conform to the usual norms. They are made a butt of jokes or spoken about with condescencion. But Jesus seeks their company and enjoys being with them. Pope Francis exhibits the same predilection for them. I cannot forget the Pope embracing the man who had this terrible skin affliction with the mottled skin on his face and neck. There was absolutely no abhorrence in the Pope‘s embrace. It was genuine, loving and compassionate. May we all learn to be as accepting and as genuinely compassionate to those around us who are judged unfavorably by society.