Bible Diary for January 6th – 12thBible Diary
St. André Bessette
1st Reading: Is 60: 1-6:
Arise, shine, for your light has come. The glory of Yahweh rises upon you. Night still covers the earth and gloomy clouds veil the peoples, but Yahweh now rises and over you his glory appears. Nations will come to your light and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Lift up your eyes round about and see: they are all gathered and come to you, your sons from a far, your daughters tenderly carried.
This sight will make your face radiant, your heart throbbing and full; the riches of the sea will be turned to you, the wealth of the nations will come to you. A multitude of camels will cover you, caravans from Midian and Ephah. Those from Sheba will come, bringing with them gold and incense, all singing in praise of Yahweh.
2nd Reading: Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6:
You may have heard of the graces God bestowed on me, for your sake. By a revelation, he gave me the knowledge of his mysterious design, as I have explained in a few words. This mystery was not made known to past generations, but only now, through revelations, given to holy apostles and prophets, by the Spirit. Now, the non-Jews share the inheritance; in Christ Jesus, the non-Jews are incorporated, and are to enjoy the Promise. This is the Good News.
Gospel: Mt 2:1-12:
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in Judea, during the days of king Herod, wise men from the East arrived in Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw the rising of his star in the East and have come to honor him.” When Herod heard this he was greatly disturbed, and with him all Jerusalem. He immediately called a meeting of all high-ranking priests and teachers of the law, and asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In the town of Bethlehem in Judea,” they told him, “for this is what the prophet wrote: And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, you are by no means the least among the clans of Judah, for from you will come a leader, one who is to shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod secretly called the wise men and asked them the precise time the star appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem with these instructions, “Go and get accurate information about the child. As soon as you have found him, report to me, so that I, too, may go and honor him.” After the meeting with the king, they set out. The star that they had seen in the East went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. The wise men were overjoyed on seeing the star again. They went into the house, and when they saw the child with Mary his mother, they knelt and worshiped him. They opened their bags and offered him their gifts of gold, incense and myrrh. In a dream they were warned not to go back to Herod, so they returned to their home country by another way.
New beginnings hold promise for those who live in hope. But what of those who hold power and privilege or benefit from the status quo? For them, the promise of change can be threatening. Thus, for King Herod news of a “newborn king” fills him with dread. God promises to make all things new. For those on the margins this is cause for rejoicing. For the rest, we are challenged to let go of attachments, to leave our old country, and follow where God is leading us. God, let me arise and welcome your new day.
St. Raymond of Peñafort
1st Reading: 1 Jn 3:22—4:6:
We receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit whom he gave us.
Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can know the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God, and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God. This is the spirit of the antichrist who, as you heard, is to come, but in fact is already in the world. You belong to God, children, and you have conquered them, for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
They belong to the world; accordingly, their teaching belongs to the world, and the world listens to them. We belong to God, and anyone who knows God listens to us, while anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us. This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit.
Gospel: Mt 4:12-17, 23-25:
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum, a town by the lake of Galilee, at the border of Zebulun and Naphtali. In this way the word of the prophet Isaiah was fulfilled: Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali crossed by the Road of the Sea, and you who live by the Jordan, Galilee, land of pagans: The people who lived in darkness have seen a great light; on those who live in the land of the shadow of death, a light has shone.
From that time on Jesus began to proclaim his message, “Change your ways: the kingdom of heaven is near.” Jesus went around all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom, and curing all kinds of sickness and disease among the people. The news about him spread through the whole of Syria, and the people brought all their sick to him, and all those who suffered: the possessed, the deranged, the paralyzed, and he healed them all. Large crowds followed him from Galilee and the Ten Cities, from Jerusalem, Judea, and from across the Jordan.
The arrest of John the Baptist marks a significant turn in the gospel “plot.” For Jesus, this marks the signal to begin his own ministry, while also foreshadowing the ultimate price he will pay. Understandably, he is moved to withdraw “into Galilee,” perhaps to discern his next steps. Those who arrested John had hoped they were silencing his proclamation. But they soon learn their mistake, when Jesus steps forward to repeat the very words from John’s lips: “Change your ways: the kingdom of heaven is near.”
But if there is continuity with John’s mission, there is also something new. If John delivered a message of coming judgment, Jesus’ proclamation is tempered by works of mercy and compassion: not only the sick, but “the possessed, the deranged, the paralyzed” are healed. In “curing all kinds of sickness and disease” Jesus is advancing far beyond John’s message; the “kingdom of heaven” is not simply “near” but is actually breaking forth in Jesus’ words and deeds.
1st Reading: 1 Jn 4:7-10:
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only-begotten Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.
Gospel: Mk 6:34-44:
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 a long teaching session with them. It was now getting late, so Jesus’ disciples came to him and said, “This is a lonely place and it is now late. You should send the people away and let them go to the farms and villages around here to buy themselves something to eat.” Jesus replied, “You yourselves give them something to eat.” They answered, “If we are to feed them food, we need two hundred silver coins to go and buy enough bread.” But Jesus said, “You have some loaves: how many? Go and see.”
The disciples found out and said, “There are five loaves and two fish.” Then he told them to have the people sit down together in groups on the green grass. This they did in groups of hundreds and fifties. And Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish and, raising his eyes to heaven, he pronounced a blessing, broke the loaves and handed them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them. They all ate and everyone had enough. The disciples gathered up what was left and filled twelve baskets with broken pieces of bread and fish. Five thousand men had eaten here.
Behind each miracle there is a lurking question: Why this one? If Jesus could feed a multitude with five loaves and two fish, why not feed every crowd? Why not feed the whole world? One answer, of course, is that Jesus did not come to rectify all our problems from above, but to inaugurate what Pope Francis has called a “revolution of tenderness.” This begins from below—with the spirit of mercy, solidarity, and fellow-feeling. The saints did not begin with large budgets and fundraising schemes. They began with faith and the means at hand, trusting that God would make the increase.
They did not assume that their charitable programs—caring for the sick, feeding the hungry, or rescuing orphans—would single-handedly resolve large social issues. But they brought their faith, their vision, their resolve, with confidence that God could take these small loaves and fishes and multiply them. We may look around the world and see the overwhelming magnitude of suffering and human need. Why doesn’t someone do something about this? Why doesn’t God do something about this? He answers: “You yourselves, give them something to eat.” That is how God’s miracles begin.
1st Reading: 1 Jn 4:11-18:
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.
This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us, that he has given us of his Spirit. Moreover, we have seen and testify that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world. Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God. We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.
God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment,
and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.
Gospel: Mk 6:45-52:
After the five thousand men were satiated, Jesus obliged his disciples to get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, towards Bethsaida, while he himself sent the crowd away. And having sent the people off, he went by himself to the hillside to pray. When evening came, the boat was far out on the lake while he was alone on the land.
Jesus saw his disciples straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, and before daybreak he came to them walking on the lake; and he was going to pass them by. When they saw him walking on the lake, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw him and were terrified. But at once he called to them, “Courage! It’s me; don’t be afraid.” Jesus then got into the boat with them and the wind died down. They were completely astonished, for they had not really grasped the fact of the loaves; their minds were dull.
No doubt the sight of Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee filled his disciples with terror: “they thought it was a ghost.” John writes, “Perfect love drives away fear,” yet the disciples are far from such perfect love. They are also far from perfect understanding of who Jesus is and the significance of his actions. Having experienced the miraculous multiplication of the loaves and fishes, their minds remain “dull.” “Wow, wasn’t that great that we had enough to feed everyone?” they are thinking, without recognizing once again a sign of the in-breaking reality of the kingdom of heaven in their midst. “It is I,” says the Lord; “don’t be afraid.”
Perhaps we also fail to see things according to their true meaning, and thus we remain afraid. None of us has seen the Lord walking on the waves. No one has seen God. But when we love, according to the Epistle, “God lives in us,” and we can see God in the loving deeds of others, especially in the works of mercy: feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, visiting the prisoner. To the extent that such witness frightens us, it is a sign that our faith and our love remain weak. May the Spirit give us courage!
1st Reading: 1 Jn 4:19 – 5:4:
Beloved, we love God because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God, and everyone who loves the Father loves also the one begotten by him. In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
Gospel: Lk 4:14-22:
Jesus acted with the power of the Spirit; and on his return to Galilee, the news about him spread. Throughout all that territory, he began teaching in the synagogues of the Jews and everyone praised him. When Jesus came to Nazareth where he had been brought up, he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath as he usually did. He stood up to read and they handed him the book of the prophet Isaiah. Jesus then unrolled the scroll and found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.
He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and new sight to the blind; to free the oppressed and announce the Lord’s year of mercy.” Jesus then rolled up the scroll, gave it to the attendant and sat down, while the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he said to them, “Today these prophetic words come true even as you listen.” All agreed with him and were lost in wonder, while he spoke of the grace of God. Nevertheless they asked, “Who is this but Joseph’s son?”
Jesus spends little time preaching in Nazareth, the place where he will always be known primarily as “Joseph’s son.” Even as he claims for himself the text from Isaiah, everyone is praising him and admiring what a good job he did reading from scripture. He then delivers what must count as one of the shortest homilies on record: “Today these prophetic words come true, even as you listen.” Well said, Jesus! But listen again to his text and imagine what it would mean to believe this prophesy was coming true in your hearing: good news to the poor, liberty to the captives and the oppressed…
Here is a wholesale program of social upheaval. The point of the sermon is that these are not just pretty words from “Bible times”; they are happening now, in our presence! And yet Jesus has become so familiar to us that his challenging message glides right past. Nice sermon, Lord! (“Isn’t that the carpenter’s son?”) Every week at Mass we hear such prophetic words, but for us, the family of Jesus, they are so familiar that we fail to see and comprehend: These words are coming true in our hearing!
1st Reading: 1 Jn 5:5-13:
Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
This is the one who came through water and Blood, Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and Blood. The Spirit is the one who testifies, and the Spirit is truth. So there are three who testify,
the Spirit, the water, and the Blood, and the three are of one accord. If we accept human testimony, the testimony of God is surely greater. Now the testimony of God is this, that he has testified on behalf of his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has this testimony within himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar by not believing the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever possesses the Son has life; whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life.
I write these things to you so that you may know that you have eternal life, you who believe in the name of the Son of God.
Gospel: Lk 5:12-16:
One day in another town, a man came to Jesus covered with leprosy. On seeing Jesus, the man bowed down to the ground, and said, “Lord, if you want to, you can make me clean.” Stretching out his hand, Jesus touched the man and said, “Yes, I want it. Be clean.” In an instant the leprosy left him. Then Jesus instructed him, “Tell this to no one. But go and show yourself to the priest. Make an offering for your healing, as Moses prescribed; that should be a proof to the people.” But the news about Jesus spread all the more, and large crowds came to him to listen and be healed of their sickness. As for Jesus, he would often withdraw to solitary places and pray.
It doesn’t take much to coax an act of healing mercy out of Jesus; just a leper, in this case, who says “If you want to, you can make me clean.” The leper appeals not from his own desire—what he wants from Jesus (though that must be clear). Instead, he appeals to Jesus’ desire: that all should be whole and well, that those who are marginalized and outcast should be welcomed. (The leper’s submissive attitude recalls Jesus’ later prayer: “Not my will, but yours be done.”) And Jesus confirms the leper’s appeal: “I do want to…”
We approach Jesus with our own needs and sufferings, perhaps doubting that they merit his attention or compassion. But he is the embodiment of such compassion. If it were a matter of what he “wanted” to do, there would surely be no end to his compassion. We should approach Jesus with confidence in his power to heal us and fulfill our deepest longing. That may not take the form of physical healing. But as the Epistle of John reminds us, through Jesus God has offered us the gift of eternal life. That is what he wants for us. It only falls on us to want it too.
1st Reading: 1 Jn 5:14-21:
We have this confidence in him that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, we know that what we have asked him for is ours. If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.
We know that anyone begotten by God does not sin; but the one begotten by God he protects, and the Evil One cannot touch him. We know that we belong to God, and the whole world is under the power of the Evil One. We also know that the Son of God has come and has given us discernment to know the one who is true. And we are in the one who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Children, be on your guard against idols.
Gospel: Jn 3:22-30:
Jesus went into the territory of Judea with his disciples. He stayed there with them and baptized. John was also baptizing in Aenon near Salim where water was plentiful; people came to him and were baptized. This happened before John was put in prison. Now John’s disciples had been questioned by a Jew about spiritual cleansing, so they came to John and said, “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, and about whom you spoke favorably, is now baptizing and all are going to him.”
John answered, “No one can take on anything except what has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said: ‘I am not the Christ but I have been sent before him.’ Only the bridegroom has the bride; but the friend of the bridegroom stands by and listens, and rejoices to hear the bridegroom’s voice. My joy is now full. It is necessary that he increase but that I decrease.”
This gospel text offers a rare glimpse of Jesus from afar. In this case, some of John’s disciples are worried to hear that Jesus is stealing their master’s signature moves—that is, performing baptisms on his own. But John makes it clear he is not the main attraction but merely the “warm-up act” for the one who is to come. Casting himself as the friend of the bridegroom, he is not disappointed to hear the news of Jesus. Instead, his joy is complete: “It is necessary that he increase, but that I decrease.”
Here is a man whose concern is not with himself but with his mission—a mission that is larger than himself. Are we capable of a similar detachment about our projects and apostolates? Are we resentful when a cause or belief we have worked for is taken up by others— perhaps a new generation with their own way of doing things? Or is our joy now complete to know that other hands have taken up the work, perhaps seeing it to completion? John’s mission was not to proclaim himself, but another. And now that his mission is fulfilled, how can he not rejoice!