Bible Diary for January 28th – February 3rdBible Diary
Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Dt 18:15-20
Moses spoke to all the people, saying:
“A prophet like me will the LORD, your God, raise up for you
from among your own kin;
to him you shall listen.
This is exactly what you requested of the LORD, your God, at Horeb
on the day of the assembly, when you said,
‘Let us not again hear the voice of the LORD, our God,
nor see this great fire any more, lest we die.’
And the LORD said to me, ‘This was well said.
I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin,
and will put my words into his mouth;
he shall tell them all that I command him.
Whoever will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name,
I myself will make him answer for it.
But if a prophet presumes to speak in my name
an oracle that I have not commanded him to speak,
or speaks in the name of other gods, he shall die.’”
2nd Reading: 1 Cor 7:32-35
Brothers and sisters:
I should like you to be free of anxieties.
An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord,
how he may please the Lord.
But a married man is anxious about the things of the world,
how he may please his wife, and he is divided.
An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord,
so that she may be holy in both body and spirit.
A married woman, on the other hand,
is anxious about the things of the world,
how she may please her husband.
I am telling you this for your own benefit,
not to impose a restraint upon you,
but for the sake of propriety
and adherence to the Lord without distraction.
Gospel: Mk 1:21-28
Then they came to Capernaum,
and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught.
The people were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
Jesus rebuked him and said,
“Quiet! Come out of him!”
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
All were amazed and asked one another,
“What is this?
A new teaching with authority.
He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”
His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.
A prophet carries great responsibility to communicate not his or her mind, but the mind of the Lord; and the people are expected to be attentive to such a discerning prophet. Everyone has a prophetic call and duty in his or her given station of life wherein one must remain united to the Lord, free from anxieties. Jesus was such a prophet par excellence and so recognized and obeyed even by evil spirits. Jesus preached with such authenticity and authority that even the evil spirits recognized his identity and obeyed him. His authenticity and authority were derived from his having been perfectly attuned to the Father in his total being so much so when he spoke, it was the communication of the very thoughts of the Father. He is a wonderful model for us to imitate for us in becoming what Paul invites us to do: to be entirely united to the Lord. It helps us to be prophets in our own given/chosen walks of life. Lord, keep me united to you so that my heart thinks your thoughts, my lips speak your words, and my hands do your work. Spend 30 minutes in mindful listening to the Lord.
1st Reading: 2 S 15:13-14, 30; 16:5-13
An informant came to David with the report,
“The children of Israel have transferred their loyalty to Absalom.”
At this, David said to all his servants
who were with him in Jerusalem:
“Up! Let us take flight, or none of us will escape from Absalom.
Leave quickly, lest he hurry and overtake us,
then visit disaster upon us and put the city to the sword.”
As David went up the Mount of Olives, he wept without ceasing.
His head was covered, and he was walking barefoot.
All those who were with him also had their heads covered
and were weeping as they went.
As David was approaching Bahurim,
a man named Shimei, the son of Gera
of the same clan as Saul’s family,
was coming out of the place, cursing as he came.
He threw stones at David and at all the king’s officers,
even though all the soldiers, including the royal guard,
were on David’s right and on his left.
Shimei was saying as he cursed:
“Away, away, you murderous and wicked man!
The LORD has requited you for all the bloodshed in the family of Saul,
in whose stead you became king,
and the LORD has given over the kingdom to your son Absalom.
And now you suffer ruin because you are a murderer.”
Abishai, son of Zeruiah, said to the king:
“Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king?
Let me go over, please, and lop off his head.”
But the king replied: “What business is it of mine or of yours,
sons of Zeruiah, that he curses?
Suppose the LORD has told him to curse David;
who then will dare to say, ‘Why are you doing this?’”
Then the king said to Abishai and to all his servants:
“If my own son, who came forth from my loins, is seeking my life,
how much more might this Benjaminite do so?
Let him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him to.
Perhaps the LORD will look upon my affliction
and make it up to me with benefits
for the curses he is uttering this day.”
David and his men continued on the road,
while Shimei kept abreast of them on the hillside,
all the while cursing and throwing stones and dirt as he went.
Gospel: Mk 5:1-20
Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the sea,
to the territory of the Gerasenes.
When he got out of the boat,
at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him.
The man had been dwelling among the tombs,
and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain.
In fact, he had frequently been bound with shackles and chains,
but the chains had been pulled apart by him and the shackles smashed,
and no one was strong enough to subdue him.
Night and day among the tombs and on the hillsides
he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones.
Catching sight of Jesus from a distance,
he ran up and prostrated himself before him,
crying out in a loud voice,
“What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?
I adjure you by God, do not torment me!”
(He had been saying to him, “Unclean spirit, come out of the man!”)
He asked him, “What is your name?”
He replied, “Legion is my name. There are many of us.”
And he pleaded earnestly with him
not to drive them away from that territory.
Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside.
And they pleaded with him,
“Send us into the swine. Let us enter them.”
And he let them, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine.
The herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea,
where they were drowned.
The swineherds ran away and reported the incident in the town
and throughout the countryside.
And people came out to see what had happened.
As they approached Jesus,
they caught sight of the man who had been possessed by Legion,
sitting there clothed and in his right mind.
And they were seized with fear.
Those who witnessed the incident explained to them what had happened
to the possessed man and to the swine.
Then they began to beg him to leave their district.
As he was getting into the boat,
the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him.
But Jesus would not permit him but told him instead,
“Go home to your family and announce to them
all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.”
Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis
what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed.
A retreat master once made us do an exercise. He said: Take a piece of paper and on the left hand column, list down all the negative things that happened in your life and on the right hand column, list all the good things that happened in your life. When we discussed and compared our lists, we found out that all of us without exception had a much longer list on the right hand column of our paper. There were many more good things that happened in our lives than negative ones. Indeed the Lord has done great things for us. If we begin with our own existence, out of the many possible beings, why were we the ones that were called to be born? If we look at our bodies, we have the most sophisticated and efficient system in the world including all possible computers. If we think of our family and friends, how much joy and support they have given us. And the opportunities that came to our life — material as well as spiritual — we cannot but exclaim: Thanks be to God. Even negative events can prove to be blessings. Many cancer survivors have shared with me their gratitude in finding God after being diagnosed with cancer. And many more. So we can really sing with Mary in the Magnificat: GOD HAS DONE GREAT THINGS TO ME AND HOLY IS GOD‘S NAME!
1st Reading: 2 S 18:9-10, 14b, 24-25a, 30 – 19:3
Absalom unexpectedly came up against David’s servants.
He was mounted on a mule,
and, as the mule passed under the branches of a large terebinth,
his hair caught fast in the tree.
He hung between heaven and earth
while the mule he had been riding ran off.
Someone saw this and reported to Joab
that he had seen Absalom hanging from a terebinth.
And taking three pikes in hand,
he thrust for the heart of Absalom,
still hanging from the tree alive.
Now David was sitting between the two gates,
and a lookout went up to the roof of the gate above the city wall,
where he looked about and saw a man running all alone.
The lookout shouted to inform the king, who said,
“If he is alone, he has good news to report.”
The king said, “Step aside and remain in attendance here.”
So he stepped aside and remained there.
When the Cushite messenger came in, he said,
“Let my lord the king receive the good news
that this day the LORD has taken your part,
freeing you from the grasp of all who rebelled against you.”
But the king asked the Cushite, “Is young Absalom safe?”
The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king
and all who rebel against you with evil intent
be as that young man!”
The king was shaken,
and went up to the room over the city gate to weep.
He said as he wept,
“My son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom!
If only I had died instead of you,
Absalom, my son, my son!”
Joab was told that the king was weeping and mourning for Absalom;
and that day’s victory was turned into mourning for the whole army
when they heard that the king was grieving for his son.
Gospel: Mk 5:21-43
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat
to the other side,
a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea.
One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward.
Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying,
“My daughter is at the point of death.
Please, come lay your hands on her
that she may get well and live.”
He went off with him
and a large crowd followed him.
There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years.
She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors
and had spent all that she had.
Yet she was not helped but only grew worse.
She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd
and touched his cloak.
She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.”
Immediately her flow of blood dried up.
She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.
Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him,
turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?”
But his disciples said to him,
“You see how the crowd is pressing upon you,
and yet you ask, Who touched me?”
And he looked around to see who had done it.
The woman, realizing what had happened to her,
approached in fear and trembling.
She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth.
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you.
Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”
While he was still speaking,
people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said,
“Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?”
Disregarding the message that was reported,
Jesus said to the synagogue official,
“Do not be afraid; just have faith.”
He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside
except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.
When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official,
he caught sight of a commotion,
people weeping and wailing loudly.
So he went in and said to them,
“Why this commotion and weeping?
The child is not dead but asleep.”
And they ridiculed him.
Then he put them all out.
He took along the child’s father and mother
and those who were with him
and entered the room where the child was.
He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,”
which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”
The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around.
At that they were utterly astounded.
He gave strict orders that no one should know this
and said that she should be given something to eat.
In all the miracles Jesus performed, he would inevitably say after the cure: YOUR FAITH HAS SAVED YOU. What is this power within us that has tremendous effects? Is this real? I must say that in my life, I am amazed at how many of my dreams (projects) have come true. The material and human resources simply appeared when they were needed. I can give many examples. The latest is when a bishop of a very poor diocese asked me (when I was Prioress) to put a hospital in their area because people just die on the way to the hospital which is 6 hours away. Believe it or not somebody donated to us 3 and a half hectares of land as site of the hospital. And a former scholar of ours, who is now CEO of an automobile company which had a foundation for social responsibility, undertook the construction of the hospital for free. We got a mobile clinic for free. That is why when I was giving a homily in a New York parish to fund-raise for the endowment fund of the hospital, I said: “To put up a hospital is no joke. But I learned two things in undertaking this project. First, that miracles do happen today not to saints but to ordinary people like us. And second, it pays to dream and to dream big, because if our dream is for people and is worthwhile fulfilling, all the forces of the universe will align themselves to make our dream come true. As Jesus said: If you have a faith as small as a mustard seed, you can move mountains.
St. John Bosco
1st Reading: 2 S 24:2, 9-17
King David said to Joab and the leaders of the army who were with him,
“Tour all the tribes in Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba
and register the people, that I may know their number.”
Joab then reported to the king the number of people registered:
in Israel, eight hundred thousand men fit for military service;
in Judah, five hundred thousand.
Afterward, however, David regretted having numbered the people,
and said to the LORD:
“I have sinned grievously in what I have done.
But now, LORD, forgive the guilt of your servant,
for I have been very foolish.”
When David rose in the morning,
the LORD had spoken to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying:
“Go and say to David, ‘This is what the LORD says:
I offer you three alternatives;
choose one of them, and I will inflict it on you.’”
Gad then went to David to inform him.
He asked: “Do you want a three years’ famine to come upon your land,
or to flee from your enemy three months while he pursues you,
or to have a three days’ pestilence in your land?
Now consider and decide what I must reply to him who sent me.”
David answered Gad: “I am in very serious difficulty.
Let us fall by the hand of God, for he is most merciful;
but let me not fall by the hand of man.”
Thus David chose the pestilence.
Now it was the time of the wheat harvest
when the plague broke out among the people.
The LORD then sent a pestilence over Israel
from morning until the time appointed,
and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beer-sheba died.
But when the angel stretched forth his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it,
the LORD regretted the calamity
and said to the angel causing the destruction among the people,
“Enough now! Stay your hand.”
The angel of the LORD was then standing
at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
When David saw the angel who was striking the people,
he said to the LORD: “It is I who have sinned;
it is I, the shepherd, who have done wrong.
But these are sheep; what have they done?
Punish me and my kindred.”
Gospel: Mk 6:1-6
Jesus departed from there and came to his native place,
accompanied by his disciples.
When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue,
and many who heard him were astonished.
They said, “Where did this man get all this?
What kind of wisdom has been given him?
What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!
Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary,
and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon?
And are not his sisters here with us?”
And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and among his own kin and in his own house.”
So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,
apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.
He was amazed at their lack of faith.
Kierkegaard, a famous philosopher said: “Faith is leap into the dark“ and I add: “Because you are sure to fall into the hands of the living God. When I went to Germany to study, I passed by our Motherhouse which had a boathouse near the Stanberg lake where the Sisters would go when they would swim in the lake. They couldn‘t believe I could not swim even if I live in an island. Anyway they taught me to swim. The first thing is to float. The more I tried, the more I sank until at one moment I just stopped trying and let go and lo and behold, I floated. Then I reflected on the spirituality of swimming and that is of: LETTING GO — SURRENDER! Faith is actually letting go, surrendering oneself to God who loves us with an unconditional love. In life, we have to practice letting go and letting God. We will find out that when we have exhausted all human efforts to solve our problem and decide to put them into the heart of God, then a solution comes out of nowhere. And if we have become adept at letting go little by little, at the time of our death, when we really have to let go of everything, it will no longer be hard for us and we prepare ourselves to fall into the hand of our loving God.
1st Reading: 1 K 2:1-4, 10-12
When the time of David’s death drew near,
he gave these instructions to his son Solomon:
“I am going the way of all flesh.
Take courage and be a man.
Keep the mandate of the LORD, your God, following his ways
and observing his statutes, commands, ordinances, and decrees
as they are written in the law of Moses,
that you may succeed in whatever you do,
wherever you turn, and the LORD may fulfill
the promise he made on my behalf when he said,
‘If your sons so conduct themselves
that they remain faithful to me with their whole heart
and with their whole soul,
you shall always have someone of your line
on the throne of Israel.’”
David rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David.
The length of David’s reign over Israel was forty years:
he reigned seven years in Hebron
and thirty-three years in Jerusalem.
Solomon was seated on the throne of his father David,
with his sovereignty firmly established.
Gospel: Mk 6:7-13
Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two
and gave them authority over unclean spirits.
He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick
–no food, no sack, no money in their belts.
They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.
He said to them,
“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there.
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet
in testimony against them.”
So they went off and preached repentance.
The Twelve drove out many demons,
and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
The life of a Christian is a pilgrimage. A pilgrim is conscious that one cannot have a lasting city on earth. Therefore we have to avoid inordinate attachments that keep us from going on in our journey. But that does not mean that we cannot take time out to smell the flowers and enjoy the colorful butterflies. Life is short and it is a pity if we just go on without noticing and appreciating the beauty that surrounds us. Along the way, we will meet dangers, temptations and hardships. In facing these challenges, we are convinced that we are not alone – that we are with God. When we come to some crossroads and we are not sure what direction we will take, we discern in prayer and ask God to show us the way we must go. Maybe sometimes we have to retrace our steps and go another way. Each one‘s journey is unique and one cannot compare one‘s journey with that of another. In the convent there are some Sisters, who, after making their perpetual vows, leave the convent but after some time decide to come back. These detours are a part of the journey and contribute to one‘s growth and development. The important thing is always to hold God‘s hands. Micah expresses beautifully what we should do: He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Presentation of the Lord
1st Reading: Mal 3:1-4
Thus says the Lord God:
Lo, I am sending my messenger
to prepare the way before me;
And suddenly there will come to the temple
the LORD whom you seek,
And the messenger of the covenant whom you desire.
Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
But who will endure the day of his coming?
And who can stand when he appears?
For he is like the refiner’s fire,
or like the fuller’s lye.
He will sit refining and purifying silver,
and he will purify the sons of Levi,
Refining them like gold or like silver
that they may offer due sacrifice to the LORD.
Then the sacrifice of Judah and Jerusalem
will please the LORD,
as in the days of old, as in years gone by.
2nd Reading: Heb 2:14-18
Since the children share in blood and flesh,
Jesus likewise shared in them,
that through death he might destroy the one
who has the power of death, that is, the Devil,
and free those who through fear of death
had been subject to slavery all their life.
Surely he did not help angels
but rather the descendants of Abraham;
therefore, he had to become like his brothers and sisters
in every way,
that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God
to expiate the sins of the people.
Because he himself was tested through what he suffered,
he is able to help those who are being tested.
Gospel: Lk 2:22-40
When the days were completed for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written in the law of the Lord,
Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,
and to offer the sacrifice of
a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,
in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
This man was righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he should not see death
before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.
He came in the Spirit into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus
to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:
“Now, Master, you may let your servant go
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
Band you yourself a sword will pierceB
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
There was also a prophetess, Anna,
the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.
She was advanced in years,
having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage,
and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.
She never left the temple,
but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.
And coming forward at that very time,
she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child
to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.
When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions
of the law of the Lord,
they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.
The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom;
and the favor of God was upon him.
Several times Mary was told in relation to her Son that a sword shall pierce her soul just as many times as she kept things in her heart to ponder over them also in relationship to Jesus. Mothers experience the same anguish and maybe purzzlement about their children. I know some mothers who feel guilty if their children no longer practice what they taught them or behave in ways they do not approve of. Of course they should not feel as if they are responsible for all their children‘s decisions and behavior. In the case of Mary, it surely is not Jesus‘ behaviour or decisions that pierced her soul. It was the premonition that her Son would suffer and suffer in a most horrible way. She could almost feel in her body the same pain that she forsaw would be felt by her Son when he would be reviled, rejected, betrayed, tortured, scourged, crucified. Somehow as Mother of Sorrows, mothers of today who suffer pain because of their children can take her as their model in the patient endurance of their anguish. I think of mothers whose sons and daughters who fight for justice have been arrested, tortured and killed and in case of daughters also gang-raped and defiled. Mother Mary, look upon these suffering mothers and give them the courage to bear their sorrows and help them find justice for their children. Amen.
1st Reading: 1 K 3:4-13
Solomon went to Gibeon to sacrifice there,
because that was the most renowned high place.
Upon its altar Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings.
In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night.
God said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.”
“You have shown great favor to your servant, my father David,
because he behaved faithfully toward you,
with justice and an upright heart;
and you have continued this great favor toward him, even today,
seating a son of his on his throne.
O LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant,
king to succeed my father David;
but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act.
I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen,
a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted.
Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart
to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.
For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?”
The LORD was pleased that Solomon made this request.
So God said to him: “Because you have asked for this–
not for a long life for yourself,
nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies,
but for understanding so that you may know what is right–
I do as you requested.
I give you a heart so wise and understanding
that there has never been anyone like you up to now,
and after you there will come no one to equal you.
In addition, I give you what you have not asked for,
such riches and glory that among kings there is not your like.”
Gospel: Mk 6:30-34
The Apostles gathered together with Jesus
and reported all they had done and taught.
He said to them,
“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”
People were coming and going in great numbers,
and they had no opportunity even to eat.
So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.
People saw them leaving and many came to know about it.
They hastened there on foot from all the towns
and arrived at the place before them.
When Jesus disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them,
for they were like sheep without a shepherd;
and he began to teach them many things.
In our society today, there are many voiceless people, oppressed people, people who do not know what direction in life they will take. They are like the crowd Jesus had compassion on because they were like “sheep without a shepherd“. There are the farmers in our country who are mostly tenants and do not have land of their own and who flock to the city looking for work. It is good that some of them have become organized and therefore have shepherds to guide them in their struggle for their rights. There are the urban poor who are also without power and cannot obtain the most basic necessities in life and the social services that could ease their life lived in utmost poverty. There are the indigenous people who are overwhelmed by those who want to rob them of their ancestral lands and the treasures buried there. Not only are they driven away but their leaders are being killed by those who are supposed to protect them but instead protect the interests of the multinational mining corporations who exploit them. Maybe the ones who are truly lost are the refugees which until now are adrift at sea because they have not found a place to welcome them and to give them a home. In this year of compassion and mercy, we proclaim our solidarity with these groups of people and resolve to do whatever little we can to help alleviate their sufferings.