Bible Diary for February 3rd – 9thBible Diary
1st Reading: Jer 1:4-5, 17-19:
A word of Yahweh came to me, “Even before I formed you in the womb I have known you; even before you were born I had set you apart, and appointed you a prophet to the nations!” But you, get ready for action; stand up and say to them all that I command you. Be not scared of them or I will scare you in their presence! See, I will make you a fortified city, a pillar of iron with walls of bronze, against all the nations, against the kings and princes of Judah, against the priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but shall not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue you—it is Yahweh who speaks.”
2nd Reading: 1 Cor 12:31–13:13:
Be that as it may, set your hearts on the most precious gifts, and I will show you a much better way. If I could speak all the human and angelic tongues, but had no love, I would only be sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, knowing secret things, with all kinds of knowledge, and had faith great enough to remove mountains, but had no love, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I had to the poor, and even give up my body to be burned, if I am without love, it would be of no value to me. Love is patient, kind, without envy. It is not boastful or arrogant. It is not ill-mannered, nor does it seek its own interest.
Love overcomes anger and forgets offenses. It does not take delight in wrong, but rejoices in truth. Love excuses everything, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love will never end. Prophecies may cease, tongues be silent and knowledge disappear. For knowledge grasps something of the truth and prophecy as well. And when what is perfect comes, everything imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I thought and reasoned like a child, but when I grew up, I gave up childish ways. Likewise, at present, we see dimly, as in a mirror, but, then, it shall be face to face. Now, we know, in part, but then I will know as I am known. Now, we have faith, hope and love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.
Gospel: Lk 4:21-30:
Jesus said to the people of Nazareth, “Today these prophetic words come true even as you listen.” All agreed with him and were lost in wonder, while he kept on speaking of the grace of God. Nevertheless they asked, “Who is this but Joseph’s son?” So he said, “Doubtless you will quote me the saying: Doctor, heal yourself! Do here in your town what they say you did in Capernaum.” Jesus added, “No prophet is honored in his own country. Truly, I say to you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens withheld rain for three years and six months and a great famine came over the whole land.
Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow of Zarephath, in the country of Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha, the prophet, and no one was healed except Naaman, the Syrian.” On hearing these words, the whole assembly became indignant. They rose up and brought him out of the town, to the edge of the hill on which Nazareth is built, intending to throw him down the cliff. But he passed through their midst and went his way.
Whatever we do or say in service of the Lord, what truly matters is the love that inspires us. Whether we are teachers, preachers, prophets, or even martyrs, our words and deeds mean nothing if they are rooted in anything other than love. Have we ever encountered a teacher without love? A preacher without love? A prophet who delights in denouncing evil but has no spirit of love? What of ourselves? Let us go back to Paul and reflect on the qualities of love. Lord, grant us faith and hope, but above all else, help us to love.
1st Reading: Heb 11:32-40:
Brothers and sisters: What more shall I say? I have not time to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, did what was righteous, obtained the promises; they closed the mouths of lions, put out raging fires, escaped the devouring sword; out of weakness they were made powerful, became strong in battle, and turned back foreign invaders. Women received back their dead through resurrection. Some were tortured and would not accept deliverance, in order to obtain a better resurrection.
Others endured mockery, scourging, even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, sawed in two, put to death at sword’s point; they went about in skins of sheep or goats, needy, afflicted, tormented. The world was not worthy of them. They wandered about in deserts and on mountains, in caves and in crevices in the earth. Yet all these, though approved because of their faith, did not receive what had been promised. God had foreseen something better for us, so that without us they should not be made perfect.
Gospel: Mk 5:1-20:
(…) No sooner did Jesus leave the boat than he was met by a man with evil spirits who had come from the tombs. (…) When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell at his feet and cried with a loud voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, son of the Most High God? For God’s sake I beg you, do not torment me.” He said this because Jesus had commanded, “Come out of the man, evil spirit.” And when Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” he replied, “Legion is my name, for we are many.” Now, a great herd of pigs was feeding on the hillside, and the evil spirits begged him, “Send us to the pigs and let us go into them.”
So Jesus let them go. The evil spirits came out of the man and went into the pigs, (…) The herdsmen fled and reported this in the town. (…) They were afraid. And when those who had seen it told what had happened to the man and to the pigs, the people begged Jesus to leave their neighborhood. When Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed begged to stay with him. Jesus would not let him and said, “Go home to your people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.” (…)
This gospel story overflows with vivid, symbolically charged details. A man possessed by an evil spirit now lives among the tombs. It suggests a man afflicted by his own consciousness of sin, living as one already dead. Though he punishes himself with stones, his own deep seated sins recoil in terror in the presence of Jesus; from the point of view of this “old man,” the call to conversion, though it is offering a passage back to life, is also the summons to a kind of death. The story takes another turn, when the evil spirits call themselves “Legion”— the name for a large unit of Roman soldiers.
In the context of first-century Palestine, this allusion to Roman occupation adds an element of subversion. Altogether it is a story of disruption and conflict— a confrontation between the power of Jesus and the forces of captivity, whether in the life of one sinner, or in the wider society. In either case, Jesus takes on the forces of death and deadness, drives them out, and leaves behind a man brought to new life, “clothed and in his right mind,” charged to proclaim the terrifying mercy of the Lord.
St. Philip of Jesus
1st Reading: Heb 12:1-4:
Brothers and sisters: Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him Jesus endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God. Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.
Gospel: Mk 5:21-43:
(…) Jairus, an official of the synagogue, came up and seeing Jesus, threw himself at his feet and asked him earnestly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her so that she may get well and live.” Jesus went with him and many people followed pressing around him. Among the crowd was a woman who had suffered from bleeding for twelve years. (…) This woman came up behind him and touched his cloak (…) Her flow of blood dried up at once, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her complaint.
But Jesus was conscious that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”(…) Then the woman, aware of what had happened came forward trembling and afraid. She knelt before him and told him the whole truth. Then Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace and be free of this illness. (…) Some people arrived from the official’s house to inform him, “Your daughter is dead…” But Jesus ignored what they said and told the official, “Do not fear, just believe.” (…)
Mark often drives home a lesson by inserting one story within another. Here the healing of a little girl is interrupted by the account of Jesus healing a woman who had suffered for twelve years (the same age as the child) from a flow of blood. In a revealing comment, we learn that Jesus felt that healing power had gone from him. Apparently this power had been activated by the simple faith of a poor sick woman, who had sought to touch his garment. In stepping forward, the woman might have braced herself against the crowd’s revulsion.
Her condition would have rendered her unclean. Her very touch had the power of defilement. Yet she had dared to touch Jesus’ garments, trusting that the power of Jesus was at the service of love, not judgment. And in touching his garment she immediately felt herself to be healed. Christ was present in that crowd in all his love and power. But it was a poor, frightened, untouchable woman whose faith recognized that power, awakened it with a touch, and brought it into full view. “Daughter,” Jesus said, “it is your faith that has made you well.” Then he goes on to heal another daughter.
St. Paul Miki and Companions
1st Reading: Heb 12:4-7, 11-15:
Brothers and sisters:
In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood. You have also forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children: My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges. Endure your trials as “discipline”; God treats you as his sons. For what Ason is there whom his father does not discipline? At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.
So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God, that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble, through which many may become defiled.
Gospel: Mk 6:1-6:
Leaving that place, Jesus returned to his own country, and his disciples followed him. When the Sabbath came, he began teaching in the synagogue, and most of those who heard him were astonished. They commented, “How did this come to him? What kind of wisdom has been given to him that he also performs such miracles? Who is he but the carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James and Joset and Judas and Simon?
His sisters, too, are they not here among us?” So they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “Prophets are despised only in their own country, among their relatives and in their own family.” And he could work no miracles there, but only healed a few sick people by laying his hands on them. Jesus himself was astounded at their unbelief. Jesus then went around the villages teaching.
This story is a reminder that Jesus, for most of his life, lived a hidden life among his poor neighbors. He was simply “the carpenter,” the son of Mary, with no apparent gifts or qualities to set him apart from his various kin. Blessed Charles de Foucauld (d. 1916), who spent some years living in the Holy Land, was so impressed with this fact that he conceived of a new form of religious life modeled precisely on this “hidden life” of Jesus, offering a silent witness to God’s love among his poor neighbors.
We do not need to join the Little Brothers, nor do we need to move to the Holy Land, to live as Jesus did among his neighbors. Nazareth is wherever we are. We can be a presence of God’s love in the space in which we find ourselves. And what about the children of God we encounter every day in the form of our neighbors: the carpenter, the auto mechanic, the janitor? How many saints walk among us—unseen, unrecognized, yet bearing witness to God’s love and mercy? If only we had eyes to see.
Blessed Pius IX
1st Reading: Heb 12:18-19, 21-24:
Brothers and sisters:
You have not approached that which could be touched and a blazing fire and gloomy darkness and storm and a trumpet blast and a voice speaking words such that those who heard begged that no message be further addressed to them. Indeed, so fearful was the spectacle that Moses said, “I am terrified and trembling. “No, you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect, and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled Blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.
Gospel: Mk 6:7-13:
Jesus called the Twelve to him and began to send them out two by two, giving them authority over evil spirits. And he ordered them to take nothing for the journey except a staff: no food, no bag, no money in their belts. They were to wear sandals and were not to take an extra tunic. And he added, “In whatever house you are welcomed, stay there until you leave the place. If any place doesn’t receive you and the people refuse to listen to you, leave after shaking the dust off your feet. It will be a testimony against them.” So they set out to proclaim that this was the time to repent. They drove out many demons and healed many sick people by anointing them.
Jesus knows there will come a time when the disciples will have to stand on their own, without him. And so he sends them out on their first trial. Here we see a glimpse of the post Easter church. Jesus did not gather followers just to serve as witnesses to his short-lived ministry. They were to be the seed of a new movement, a new family, that would carry on and extend the message that he embodied. Jesus also offered a model of the ideal missionary, who does not come with wealth or the trappings of power and privilege.
The missionary disciple does not compel others to listen or accept his teachings; all he offers is the attraction of his message and the authenticity of his witness. Many priests and religious have served the church in spreading the gospel to fields afar. But Pope Francis has reminded us that all Christians are called to be “missionary disciples.” What the disciples in this story did, so are we all charged to do— bearing witness to the gospel in our own homes and communities.
St. Jerome Emiliani
St. Josephine Bakhita
1st Reading: Heb 13:1-8:
Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels. Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment, and of the ill-treated as of yourselves, for you also are in the body. Let marriage be honored among all and the marriage bed be kept undefiled, for God will judge the immoral and adulterers. Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, I will never forsake you or abandon you. Thus we may say with confidence:
The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me? Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Gospel: Mk 6:14-29:
(…) Herod had ordered John to be arrested and had him bound and put in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. Herod had married her and John had told him, “It is not right for you to live with your brother’s wife.” So Herodias held a grudge against John and wanted to kill him, but she could not because Herod respected John. …Herodias had her chance on Herod’s birthday, … On that occasion the daughter of Herodias came in and danced; and she delighted Herod and his guests.
The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want and I will give it to you.” (…) She went out to consult her mother, “What shall I ask for?” The mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried to the king and made her request: “I want you to give me the head of John the Baptist, here and now, on a dish.” The king was very displeased, but he would not refuse in front of his guests because of his oaths. So he sent one of the bodyguards with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded John in prison; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl. And the girl gave it to her mother. ..
This grotesque story reveals much about the psychology of a tyrant. While holding the lives of others in his hands, he is constantly attuned to any threat to his power–wary of displaying signs of weakness that could cast doubt on his potency and thus encourage enemies. John the Baptist poses a different sort of threat. Yet Herod hesitates to move against a man of God. The gospel text assigns blame for John’s death to Herod’s wife—who has her own reason to resent the prophet.
Yet there is something psychologically apt about the “strong man” who is more worried about the consequences of violating a besotted oath than he is about the sin of murder. No wonder he is troubled when he hears reports of Jesus, wondering perhaps whether his victim has not returned to haunt him. This story may seem to apply only to warlords, gang leaders, and crime bosses. But there is a much more common sort of corruption—even in the church–that occurs whenever we are more concerned with appearances and reputation, or the fear of exposing “scandal” than we are about the truth or about protecting the weak and vulnerable.
1st Reading: Heb 13:15-17, 20-21:
Brothers and sisters:
Through Jesus, let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have; God is pleased by sacrifices of that kind. Obey your leaders and defer to them, for they keep watch over you and will have to give an account, that they may fulfill their task with joy and not with sorrow, for that would be of no advantage to you. May the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep by the Blood of the eternal covenant, furnish you with all that is good, that you may do his will. May he carry out in you what is pleasing to him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Gospel: Mk 6:30-34:
The apostles returned and reported to Jesus all they had done and taught. Then he said to them, “Let us go off by ourselves into a remote place and have some rest.” For there were so many people coming and going that the apostles had no time even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a secluded area by themselves. But people saw them leaving, and many could guess where they were going. So, from all the towns, they hurried there on foot, arriving ahead of them. As Jesus went ashore, he saw a large crowd, and he had compassion on them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.
This text ends where it ought to begin: “And he began to teach them many things.” What did he teach them? But that is for another story. This one is about Jesus’ compassion, which competed at times against his own weariness and need for rest. After giving everything to the crowd, Jesus and his disciples had to get into a boat and cast off from shore to find a little seclusion. But then he saw the crowds—so hungry for another word; “They were like sheep without a shepherd.”
And so once again, he goes ashore, he starts all over again, “he began to teach them many things.” Those who engage in works of service and mercy know this tension. During the Holocaust, a young man worked for many nights forging false documents for Jewish refugees. “If I sleep for an hour, that will cost thirty lives,” he said. And yet of course he had to sleep, or else he would be unable to save anyone at all. We all must balance our duty toward others with our own self-maintenance. The same was true for Jesus. But sometimes his compassion overcame his weariness. He went ashore, and preached again.