Bible Diary for July 16th – 22ndBible Diary
15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Is 55:10-11
As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return
till they have watered the earth, making it yield seed for the sower
and food for others to eat, so is my word that goes forth out of my mouth:
it will not return to me idle, but it shall accomplish my will,
the purpose for which it has been sent.
2nd Reading: Rom 8:18-23
I consider, that the suffering of our present life cannot be compared with the glory that will be revealed, and given to us. All creation is eagerly expecting the birth, in glory, of the children of God. For, if now, the created world was unable to attain its purpose, this did not come from itself, but from the one who subjected it. But it is not without hope; for even the created world, will be freed from this fate of death, and share the freedom and glory of the children of God.
We know, that the whole creation groans and suffers the pangs of birth. Not creation alone, but even ourselves; although the Spirit was given to us, as a foretaste of what we are to receive, we groan in our innermost being, eagerly awaiting the day, when God will give us full rights, and rescue our bodies as well.
Gospel: Mt 13:1-23
That same day, Jesus left the house and sat down by the lakeside. Many people gathered around him. So he got into a boat, and sat down, while the crowds stood on the shore; and he spoke to them in parables about many things.
Jesus said, “The sower went out to sow; and, as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path; and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where there was little soil, and the seeds sprouted quickly, because the soil was not deep. But as soon as the sun rose, the plants were scorched; and they withered, because they had no roots. Again, other seeds fell among thistles; and the thistles grew and choked the plants. Still, other seeds fell on good soil and produced a crop: some a hundredfold, others sixty, and others thirty. If you have ears, then hear!“
Then his disciples came to him and said, “Why do you speak to them in parables?“
Jesus answered, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but not to these people. For the one who has will be given more; and he will have in abundance. But the one who does not have will be deprived of even what he has. That is why I speak to them in parables; because they look and do not see; they hear; but they do not listen or understand.
In them, the words of the prophet Isaiah are fulfilled: However much you hear, you do not understand; however much you see, you do not perceive.
For the heart of this people has grown dull. Their ears hardly hear and their eyes dare not see. If they were to see with their eyes, hear with their ears and understand with their heart, they would turn back, and I would heal them.
But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.
For I tell you, many prophets and righteous people have longed to see the things you see, but they did not see them; and to hear the things you hear, but they did not hear them.
Now listen to the parable of the sower.
When a person hears the message of the kingdom, but does not take it seriously, the devil comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed that fell along the footpath.
The seed that fell on rocky ground stands for the one who hears the word, and accepts it at once with joy. But such a person has no roots, and endures only for a while. No sooner is he harassed or persecuted because of the word, than he gives up.
The seed that fell among the thistles is the one who hears the word; but then, the worries of this life and the love of money choke the word; and it does not bear fruit.
As for the seed that fell on good soil, it is the one who hears the word and understands it; this seed bears fruit and produces a hundred, or sixty, or thirty times more.“
God’s Word will bear fruit, in season and out of season. We, along with the entire creation, must trust in God’s promises of redemption and new life, which will be given in the fullness of time. Jesus gives the parable of the sower who reaps thirty, sixty, and hundredfold. If God’s word never returns without realizing its purpose and produces in unimaginable quantities of thirties, sixties, and hundreds, why does it seemingly fail on the path and the rock and amidst the thistle? Perhaps what is needed is our cooperation with the Grace that is poured into us. Perhaps the seeds are still there waiting to sprout, but for our generous consent and cooperation. What might be preventing us from a total surrender to the word?
Let us pray for the grace of complete surrender to God’s will.
Read a brief biography of a saint and reflect on how she/he let God’s word work in her/him.
1st Reading: Ex 1:8-14, 22
Then a new king who had not known Joseph came to power and said to his people, “The Israelites are more numerous and stronger than we are. Let us deal warily with them lest they increase still more and, in case of war, side with our enemy, fight against us and escape from the land.“ So they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor. In that way they built the storage towns of Pithom and Rameses. But the more they oppressed the Hebrews the more they increased and spread, until the Egyptians dreaded the Israelites and became ruthless in making them work. They made life bitter for them in hard labor with bricks and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields. In all their work the Egyptians treated them harshly.
Pharaoh then gave this order to all the people: “Every infant boy born to the Hebrews must be thrown into the Nile, but every girl may live.“
Gospel: Mt 10:34–11:1
Do not think that I have come to establish peace on earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Each one will have as enemies, those of one’s own family.
Whoever loves father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me. And whoever loves son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take up his cross and follow me, is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life, for my sake, will find it.
Whoever welcomes you, welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me, welcomes him who sent me. The one who welcomes a prophet, as a prophet, will receive the reward of a prophet; the one who welcomes a just man, because he is a just man, will receive the reward of a just man. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones, because he is my disciple, I assure you, he will not go unrewarded.“
When Jesus had finished giving his twelve disciples these instructions, he went on from there, to teach and to proclaim his message in their towns.
There is no room for compromise in following Jesus.
The Gospel reading reminds me of a distant relative who was disowned by her family because she decided to become a Catholic. Her parents, siblings and other relatives tried their best to dissuade her but she remained firm in her decision to be baptized in the Catholic faith. A few years later, she decided to enter the convent and became a religious sister. This really infuriated her parents that they stripped her of the inheritance due her. This, however, did not discourage her from pursuing her religious vocation.
Those who commit themselves to Jesus and His mission are expected to make Him and his Kingdom the first priority. All others are secondary. Their relationship with God is the foundation of all other relationships. This is best exemplified by David’s close friend Jonathan, son of King Saul. Because of envy and jealousy, Saul hated David and wanted him eliminated. One day Saul ordered his son to betray David but Jonathan refused. He followed his conscience, the “voice of God,“ rather than his own father. Our loyalty to family ends where loyalty to Christ begins. St. Peter said it so well, “We must obey God rather than men.“
St. Camillus de Lellis
1st Reading: Ex 2:1-15a
Now a man belonging to the clan of Levi married a woman of his own tribe. She gave birth to a boy and, seeing that he was a beautiful child, she kept him hidden for three months. As she could not conceal him any longer, she made a basket out of papyrus leaves and coated it with tar and pitch. She then laid the child in the basket and placed it among the reeds near the bank of the Nile; but the sister of the child kept at a distance to see what would happen to him.
Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe in the Nile; her attendants meanwhile walked along the bank. When she saw the basket among the reeds, she sent her maidservant to fetch it. She opened the basket and saw the child—a boy, and he was crying! She felt sorry for him, for she thought: “This is one of the Hebrew children.“
Then the sister of the child said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?“ Pharaoh’s daughter agreed, and the girl went to call the mother of the child. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take the child and nurse him for me and I will pay you.“ So the woman took the child and nursed him and, when the child had grown, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter who adopted him as her son. And she named him Moses to recall that she had drawn him out of the water.
After a fairly long time, Moses, by now a grown man, wanted to meet his fellow Hebrews. He noticed how heavily they were burdened and he saw an Egyptian striking a Hebrew, one of his own people. He looked around and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.
When he went out the next day he saw two Hebrews quarreling. Moses said to the man in the wrong, “Why are you striking a fellow countryman?” But he answered, “Who has set you prince and judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must be known.”
When Pharaoh heard about it he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in the land of Midian. There he sat down by a well.
Gospel: Mt 11:20-24
Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which he had performed most of his miracles, because the people there did not change their ways. “Alas for you Chorazin and Bethsaida! If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I assure you, for Tyre and Sidon; it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to heaven? You will be thrown down to the place of the dead! For if the miracles which were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would still be there today! But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.“
Jesus reproaches the towns of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum because of their hardheartedness. In spite of Jesus’ preaching and many miracles, the people remained in their sinful ways. Indifferent and unresponsive to his preaching, they simply refused to reform their lives. They are subsequently warned that a fate worse than that of Sodom will dawn on them, if they do not repent and persist in their wicked ways.
The warning is directed to us as well. We have received privileges and blessings and have experienced God’s goodness much more than the people of Sodom or Capernaum. For all that we have received and experienced, have we really been converted? The simple but genuine faith and religiosity of the poor and unlettered who have received less in life can put to shame those who have been blessed with much more but have taken these for granted.
1st Reading: Ex 3: 1-6, 9-12
Moses pastured the sheep of Jethro, his father-in-law, priest of Midian. One day he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the Mountain of God.
The angel of Yahweh appeared to him by means of a flame of fire in the middle of a bush. Moses saw that although the bush was on fire it did not burn up. Moses thought, “I will go and see this amazing sight, why is the bush not burning up?“
Yahweh saw that Moses was drawing near to look, and God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!“ He replied, “Here I am.“ Yahweh said to him, “Do not come near; take off your sandals because the place where you are standing is holy ground.“ And God continued, “I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.“
Moses hid his face lest his eyes look on God.
The cry of the sons of Israel has reached me and I have seen how the Egyptians oppress them.
Go now! I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.“
Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the people of Israel out of Egypt?“
God replied, “I will be with you and this will be the sign that I have sent you. When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.“
Gospel: Mt 11:25-27
On that occasion, Jesus said, “Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I praise you; because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to simple people. Yes, Father, this was your gracious will.
Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father; and no one knows the Father except the Son, and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
Coming to a true knowledge about God is something beyond our power. We come to know and are able to establish a relationship with Him only because God chooses to reveal himself to us. The initiative always comes from God. Moses’ encounter with God in the burning bush (First Reading) validates the statement of Jesus that the wise and the learned can never claim to have true knowledge and intimate relationship with God. We can know a lot of facts about the Father but do not really know him. As Mark Link once said, “Knowing our heavenly Father is not a question of opening a book and reading. It is a question of opening our heart and loving.“ Knowledge of God in its truest sense is not only an act of the mind but also of the heart and will. God reveals himself to us not merely for us to know him intellectually but does so because he desires to have a relationship with us.
Moreover, it is to simple people that God reveals himself. What is required is the attitude of childlikeness, the capacity to trust totally and be open to God and the divine will.
1st Reading: Ex 3: 13-20
Moses answered God, “If I go to the Israelites and say to them: ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ they will ask me: ‘What is his name?’ What shall I answer them?“
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO AM. This is what you will say to the sons of Israel: ‘I AM sent me to you.“ God then said to Moses, “You will say to the Israelites: ‘YAHWEH, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, has sent me.’ That will be my name forever, and by this name they shall call upon me for all generations to come.
Go! Call together the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob appeared to me and said: I have seen and taken account of how the Egyptians have treated you, and I mean to bring you out of all this oppression in Egypt and take you to the land of the Canaanites, a land flowing with milk and honey.’
The elders of Israel will listen to you and, with them, you shall go to the palace of the king of Egypt and say to him: ‘The God of the Hebrews, Yahweh, has met with us. Now let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness to sacrifice to Yahweh our God.’
I well know that the king of the Egyptians will not allow you to go unless he is forced to do so. I will therefore stretch out my hand and strike Egypt in extraordinary ways, after which he will let you go.
Gospel: Mt 11:28-30
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For my yoke is easy; and my burden is light.“
Weariness is a common experience for all of us-“poor, banished children of Eve… mourning and weeping in this vale of tears.“ This seems to be constitutive of our sinful human condition. In this life we are sometimes burdened by the “cross“ that we have to bear, i.e., the tasks and responsibilities that come with the vocation or way of life we have embraced, as well as the pains and sufferings we have to endure in the realization of our mission in life. At other times we are burdened by our sins, guilt, fear, hopelessness and despair.
To those who experience the burdens of earthly existence Jesus offers rest and a means to overcome weariness. “Take my yoke upon your shoulders and learn from me…“ Some have suggested that Christ’s yoke is that of love. It is love itself that effectively transforms our attitude towards our tasks and responsibilities. It is love that changes the way we look at pain and suffering. When we are full of love we are capable of accepting the cross for the sake of those we love, as Jesus did. When our hearts are filled with love we no longer find our obligations burdensome but embraced willingly and joyfully.
St. Lawrence of Brindisi
1st Reading: Ex 11:10—12:14
Although Moses and Aaron performed various wonders
in Pharaoh’s presence,
the LORD made Pharaoh obstinate,
and he would not let the children of Israel leave his land.
The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt,
“This month shall stand at the head of your calendar;
you shall reckon it the first month of the year.
Tell the whole community of Israel: On the tenth of this month
every one of your families must procure for itself a lamb,
one apiece for each household.
If a family is too small for a whole lamb,
it shall join the nearest household in procuring one
and shall share in the lamb
in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it.
The lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish.
You may take it from either the sheep or the goats.
You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then,
with the whole assembly of Israel present,
it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight.
They shall take some of its blood
and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel
of every house in which they partake of the lamb.
That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh
with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.
It shall not be eaten raw or boiled, but roasted whole,
with its head and shanks and inner organs.
None of it must be kept beyond the next morning;
whatever is left over in the morning shall be burned up.
“This is how you are to eat it:
with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand,
you shall eat like those who are in flight.
It is the Passover of the LORD.
For on this same night I will go through Egypt,
striking down every first born of the land, both man and beast,
and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt—I, the LORD!
But the blood will mark the houses where you are.
Seeing the blood, I will pass over you;
thus, when I strike the land of Egypt,
no destructive blow will come upon you.
“This day shall be a memorial feast for you,
which all your generations shall celebrate
with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution.”
Gospel: Mt 12:1-8
It happened that, Jesus was walking through the wheat fields on a Sabbath. His disciples were hungry; and they began to pick some heads of wheat, to crush and to eat the grain. When the Pharisees noticed this, they said to Jesus, “Look at your disciples! They are doing what is prohibited on the Sabbath!“
Jesus answered, “Have you not read what David did, when he and his men were hungry? He went into the House of God, and they ate the bread offered to God, though neither he nor his men had the right to eat it, but only the priests. And have you not read in the law, how, on the Sabbath, the priests in the temple desecrate the Sabbath, yet they are not guilty?
I tell you, there is greater than the temple here. If you really knew the meaning of the words: It is mercy I want, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent.
Besides, the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.“
The Bible presents the Pharisees as staunch defenders of the Law (in this case, the Sabbath), and would not tolerate anyone violating its prescriptions or veer away from it. However, in the process they disregard a more superior commandment which is the law of charity. They have virtually reduced religion into an activity of keeping laws. By condemning the hungry disciples for picking heads of grain and eating them they have shown that for them, observing legal prescriptions was more important than showing love, compassion and mercy to the needy. We know that the Lord never intended this to be. “It is mercy I desire and not sacrifice“ says the Lord.
Moreover, the reaction of the Pharisees over the disciples’ supposed violation of Sabbath law tells us something about human nature. Their righteousness is not necessarily founded on their love for God and his commandments. It simply reveals that their service of God is tainted with selfishness and vainglory. Ever present in us is the propensity or inclination to be self-righteous and judgmental of others. We have the tendency to be critical of others, their behavior and their actions in order to make ourselves look better than them. At times we can even misuse or pervert the law if it will satisfy our selfish and crooked intentions.
St. Mary Magdalene
1st Reading: SGS 3:1-4
The Bride says:
On my bed at night I sought him
whom my heart loves–
I sought him but I did not find him.
I will rise then and go about the city;
in the streets and crossings I will seek
Him whom my heart loves.
I sought him but I did not find him.
The watchmen came upon me,
as they made their rounds of the city:
Have you seen him whom my heart loves?
I had hardly left them
when I found him whom my heart loves.
Gospel: Jn 20:1-2, 11-18
Now, on the first day after the Sabbath, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark, and she saw that the stone blocking the tomb had been moved away. She ran to Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and she said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have laid him.“
Mary stood weeping outside the tomb; and as she wept, she bent down to look inside. She saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head, and the other at the feet. They said, “Woman, why are you weeping?“ She answered, “Because they have taken my Lord and I don’t know where they have put him.“
As she said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not recognize him. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?“ She thought it was the gardener and answered him, “Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and take him away.“
Jesus said to her, “Mary!“ She turned, and said to him, “Rabboni!“—which means Master. Jesus said to her, “Do not touch me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them: I am ascending to my Father, who is your Father, to my God, who is your God.“
So Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord, and this is what he said to me.“
In the list of women-disciples, Mary Magdalene is often mentioned first. A disputed tradition identifies her with the woman from whom Jesus cast out seven demons as well as the woman-sinner who anointed Jesus’ feet. What is indisputable, however, is the fact that she was one of the women who assisted the Lord and the apostles as they travelled and preached the Good News of the Kingdom. Showing her loyalty and the genuineness of her discipleship, she remained at the foot of the Cross while the apostles fled. And the Lord reciprocated this with the singular privilege and blessing of being the first to encounter the Risen Lord on Easter morning. Following the instruction of the Risen Lord, she went out to bring the Good News to the disciples so that today she is honored as “the apostle to the Apostles.“
When the Lord Jesus appeared to her after the resurrection, Mary Magdalene was not able to recognize him immediately. She even mistook him for a gardener. Her own tears impaired her vision. She could not see clearly. This says a lot about our own experiences-when we are overwhelmed by pain, sadness, frustration, hopelessness and despair it is quite difficult to see the face of God. When we are in mourning we find it hard to feel the presence of God. But we have to trust the Lord and his promise: “I am with you always.“ Mary Magdalene’s Easter experience tells us that encounter with the Risen Lord should lead to proclamation of the Good News of the Resurrection.