Bible Diary for July 9th – 15thBible Diary
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Zec 9:9-10
Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion! Shout for joy, daughter of Jerusalem! For your king is coming, just and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. No more chariots in Ephraim, no more horses in Jerusalem, for he will do away with them. The warrior’s bow shall be broken when he dictates peace to the nations. He will reign from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.
2nd Reading: Rom 8:9, 11-13
Yet, your existence is not in the flesh, but in the spirit, because the Spirit of God is within you. If you did not have the Spirit of Christ, you would not belong to him.
And, if the Spirit of him, who raised Jesus from the dead, is within you, he, who raised Jesus Christ from among the dead, will also give life to your mortal bodies. Yes, he will do it, through his Spirit, who dwells within you.
Then, brothers, let us leave the flesh and no longer live according to it. If not, we will die. Rather, walking in the spirit, let us put to death the body’s deeds, so that we may live.
Gospel: Mt 11:25-30
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.
“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.“
There is every reason to rejoice because God is a king who dictates peace, and not war, to the nations. Christ invites the weary and the burdened to seek refuge and rest in him. In and through the working of the Spirit, God claims us as His own. Those who have the Spirit of God do the works of God. If we bear the Spirit of God, how well do we share in God’s work of brokering peace between individuals, families, communities, and peoples? How well do we serve as resting place and refuge for the weary and the burdened?
Pray the Franciscan prayer of Peace: “Make me a channel of your peace…“
Visit a sick person today and bring God’s consolation to her/him.
1st Reading: Gen 28:10-22a
Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. When he reached a certain place the sun had set and he spent the night there. He took one of the stones that were there and using it as a pillow, he lay down to sleep.
While Jacob was sleeping, he had a dream in which a ladder stood on the earth with its top reaching to heaven and on it were angels of God going up and coming down. And Yahweh was standing there near him and said, “I am Yahweh, the God of your father, Abraham, and the God of Isaac. The land on which you sleep, I give to you and your descendants. Your descendants will be numerous like the specks of dust of the earth and you will spread out to the west and the east, to the north and the south. Through you and your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed. See, I am with you and I will keep you safe wherever you go. I will bring you back to this land and not leave you until I have done what I promised.“ Jacob woke from his dream and said, “Truly Yahweh was in this place and I was not aware of it.“ He was afraid and said, “How full of awe is this place! It is nothing less than a house of God; it is the Gate to Heaven!“
Then Jacob rose early and took the stone he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He named that place Bethel although before that it was called Luz. Then Jacob made a vow, “If Yahweh will be with me and keep me safe during this journey I am making, if he gives me bread to eat and clothes to wear, and if I return in peace to my father’s house, then Yahweh will be my God. This stone which I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me, I will give back a tenth.“
Gospel: Mt 9:18-26
While Jesus was speaking to them, an official of the synagogue came up to him, bowed before him and said, “My daughter has just died, but come and place your hands on her, and she will live.“ Jesus stood up and followed him with his disciples.
Then a woman, who had suffered from a severe bleeding for twelve years, came up from behind and touched the edge of his cloak; for she thought, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.“ Jesus turned, saw her and said, “Courage, my daughter, your faith has saved you.“ And from that moment, the woman was cured.
When Jesus arrived at the official’s house and saw the flute players and the excited crowd, he said, “Get out of here! The girl is not dead. She is only sleeping!“ And they laughed at him. But once the crowd had been turned out, Jesus went in and took the girl by the hand, and she stood up. The news of this spread through the whole area.
An author once compared the miraculous cloak of Jesus that the woman touched to the sacraments of the Church. Just as the woman in the Gospel reached out in faith and touched Jesus through his cloak, so we can reach out in faith and touch Jesus through the sacraments. If we do, Jesus’ healing power will flow into us, just as it flowed into the woman. The comparison is not perfect but it helps us appreciate what a precious gift the sacraments are. They serve a valuable purpose. They are powerful symbols that mediate the healing power of God, leading us to wholeness and fullness of life. May we have the desire to encounter the Lord frequently through the sacraments that we can experience this powerful presence.
By bringing the synagogue official’s daughter back to life, Jesus proves once more that he is no ordinary human being. Son of God that He is, he has power over death. For Jesus and for us believers, earthly death is only a form of “sleep.“ Death, therefore, is not something that should frighten us. As the late Cardinal Bernardin once said, “Death is a friend, not an enemy.“
1st Reading: Gen 32:23-33
He took them and sent them across the stream and likewise everything he had. And Jacob was left alone.
Then a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he could not get the better of Jacob, he struck him in the socket of his hip and dislocated it as he wrestled with him.
The man said, “Let me go, for day is breaking.“ But Jacob said, “I will not let you go until you have given me your blessing.“ The man then said, “What is your name?“ “Jacob“ was the reply. He answered, “You will no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have been strong-with God as you have been with men and have prevailed.“
Then Jacob asked him, “What is your name?“ He answered, “Why do you ask my name?“ And he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Penuel, saying, “I have seen God face to face and survived.“ The sun rose as he passed through Penuel, limping because of his hip.
That is why to this day the Israelites do not eat the sciatic nerve which is in the hip socket because the sciatic nerve in Jacob’s hip had been touched.
Gospel: Mt 9:32-38
As they were going away, some people brought to Jesus a man who was dumb, because he was possessed by a demon. When the demon was driven out, the dumb man began to speak. The crowds were astonished and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.“ But the Pharisees said, “He drives away demons with the help of the prince of demons.“
Jesus went around all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom; and he cured every sickness and disease. When he saw the crowds, he was moved with pity; for they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are only few. Ask the master of the harvest to send workers to gather his harvest.“
“The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few….“
There used to be a common misconception that only priests or religious are called to do the work of evangelization. Lay people who try to actively participate in the life and mission of the Church are playfully referred to as pseudo-priests. Lay preaching is often associated with Protestants and Fundamentalists than with Catholicism. Obviously, we seem to have not really taken to heart what the Second Vatican Council said about evangelization as our common vocation–clergy, religious and laypeople alike. “All share a true equality with regard to the dignity and the activity common to all the faithful for the building up of the Body of Christ.“ (Lumen Gentium, 32)
Thus when Jesus asked his disciples to pray that “the master of the harvest send more laborers to gather his harvest,“ the call was not addressed just to a few but to all who are baptized Christians. The laity are expected no longer just to say “amen“ and to “pray, pay and obey.“ Thankfully, lay people have assumed a more active role in the Church as shown in their participation in various ministries in Church as well as in Basic Ecclesial Communities, renewal movements and covenanted communities. The fidelity and success of the church depends on its members-clergy, religious and lay people alike.
1st Reading: Gen 41:55-57; 42:5-7a, 17-24a
When the land of Egypt began to suffer from the famine, the people came to Pharaoh for bread. But Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do as he tells you.” When the famine had spread throughout the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians for the famine was indeed severe over the land. As the famine had worsened throughout the whole world, people came from other countries to buy grain from Joseph.
So the sons of Israel were among those going to buy grain, for there was famine in Canaan. It was Joseph, as governor of the land, who sold the grain to all the people. When his brothers arrived they bowed before him, with their faces to the ground. Joseph recognized his brothers but did not make himself known and, instead, harshly said to them, “Where do you come from?” And they answered, “We come from the land of Canaan to buy grain for food.”
And so he put them all in prison for three days.
On the third day Joseph said to them, “I will help you to save yourselves, for I am a man who fears God. If you are sincere, let one of your brothers remain prisoner in the house of the guard where you now are, and the rest of you take the grain to save your families from famine. Then you will bring back your youngest brother; so the truth of what you say will be proved and your lives spared.” They did as they were ordered and said among themselves, “Alas! We are guilty because of the way we treated our brother when he pleaded with us for mercy, but we didn’t listen. That is why this trouble has come upon us.”
Reuben answered them, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy. But you did not listen and now we are brought to account for his blood.” Now they did not know that Joseph understood them as there was an interpreter between them. As for Joseph, he withdrew and wept. When he came back, he spoke to them and took Simeon and had him bound and put in prison while they looked on.
Gospel: Mt 10:1-7
Jesus called his Twelve disciples to him, and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to drive them out, and to heal every disease and sickness.
These are the names of the Twelve apostles: first Simon, called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew, the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon, the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, the man who would betray him.
Jesus sent these Twelve on mission, with the instructions: “Do not visit pagan territory and do not enter a Samaritan town. Go, instead, to the lost sheep of the people of Israel.
Go, and proclaim this message: The kingdom of heaven is near.
To guarantee success in the realization of their vision and goals, people in the corporate world are quite careful with their choice of officers, the people who comprise the “core-group“ of their companies. More often than not they are “the best and the brightest“ who make it to the list. Jesus’ choice of disciples who would constitute the pillars of the Church is thus a big puzzle. It is definitely not a group of professionals with impressive resumes. The opposite is true. He chose ordinary citizens to carry out the toughest mission in history–the proclamation of the Good News about the Kingdom of God. Most of them were simple fishermen. One was Simon, a troublemaker. Matthew was perceived by many as a corrupt tax collector. This is one way of saying that evangelization is primarily the work of God. But he allows ordinary people like you and me to participate in this important task. This is his way of acknowledging the value of whatever little contribution we can give to advance the cause of the Kingdom.
1st Reading: Gen 44:18-21, 23b-29; 45:1-5
Judah then went forward and said, “My lord, allow your servant to speak. Do not be angry with your servant, although you are equal to Pharaoh himself. The last time you questioned your servants saying: ‘Have you a father or a brother?’ We said to my lord: ‘We have an aged father who had a child in his old age. His brother is dead and he is the only one left of his mother’s children. And his father loves him.’ Then you said to us: ‘Bring him down so that I can see him for myself.’
You then told us that if our youngest brother did not come with us, we would not be admitted to your presence. All this we said to our father on returning there. So when he told us to come back and buy a little food, we said: ‘We cannot go down again unless our youngest brother is with us. We shall not be admitted to the lord’s presence unless our brother is with us.’ Then my father said: ‘You know that my wife had two children. One went away from me and has surely been torn to pieces since I have not seen him anymore. If you take this one from me and something happens to him you will bring my gray hair in sorrow to the grave.’
Now Joseph could no longer control his feelings in the presence of all those standing by and he called out, “Leave my presence, every one!” And only his brothers were with him when Joseph made himself known to them. He wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard and the news spread through Pharaoh’s house.
Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” And his brothers could not answer because they were terrified at seeing him. Joseph said, “Come closer,” and they drew nearer. “I am Joseph your brother, yes, it’s me, the one you sold to the Egyptians. Now don’t grieve and reproach yourselves for selling me, because God has sent me before you to save your lives.
Gospel: Mt 10:7-15
Go, and proclaim this message: The kingdom of heaven is near. Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons. Freely have you received, freely give. Do not carry any gold or silver or money in your purses. Do not take a traveling bag, or an extra shirt, or sandals, or a walking stick: workers deserve to be compensated.
When you come to a town or a village, look for a worthy person, and stay there until you leave.
When you enter the house, wish it peace. If the people are worthy people, your peace will rest on them; if they are not worthy people, your blessing will come back to you.
And if you are not welcomed, and your words are not listened to, leave that house or that town, and shake the dust off your feet. I assure you, it will go easier for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment, than it will for the people of that town.
In today’s Gospel text, Jesus gives missionary instructions to the apostles. The Church is by nature missionary. Hence they are instructions for all Christians. In the fulfillment of this task the main focus should be the gospel message. The primary aim is to bring people to salvation through the proclamation of the Good News. We have to make sure that our energies are not diverted to anything that might compromise the message such as greed for possessions, lust for power, fame or popularity. To be effective as missionaries we are to remove anything that would weigh us down physically, psychologically or spiritually. We are not to allow opposition and rejection to bother us.
Missionary work does not always require us to go to foreign lands to proclaim the Gospel. For most of us the “mission place“ is the home, the office or the neighborhood. Usually, the most effective means of proclaiming the Gospel is the witness of a lifestyle that is rooted in the teachings of Jesus. Beyond that, we are challenged to share joyfully the gift of faith to our contemporaries with a “new fervor, new language and new methods.“
St. Kateri Tekakwitha
1st Reading: Gen 46:1-7, 28-30
Israel set out with all that was his.
When he arrived at Beer-sheba,
he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.
There God, speaking to Israel in a vision by night, called,
He answered, “Here I am.”
Then he said: “I am God, the God of your father.
Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt,
for there I will make you a great nation.
Not only will I go down to Egypt with you;
I will also bring you back here, after Joseph has closed your eyes.”
So Jacob departed from Beer-sheba,
and the sons of Israel
put their father and their wives and children
on the wagons that Pharaoh had sent for his transport.
They took with them their livestock
and the possessions they had acquired in the land of Canaan.
Thus Jacob and all his descendants migrated to Egypt.
His sons and his grandsons, his daughters and his granddaughtersB
all his descendants—he took with him to Egypt.
Jacob sent Judah ahead to let Joseph know he was coming and that he would soon arrive in the land of Goshen.
Israel had sent Judah ahead to Joseph,
so that he might meet him in Goshen.
On his arrival in the region of Goshen,
Joseph hitched the horses to his chariot
and rode to meet his father Israel in Goshen.
As soon as Joseph saw him, he flung himself on his neck
and wept a long time in his arms.
And Israel said to Joseph, “At last I can die,
now that I have seen for myself that Joseph is still alive.”
Gospel: Mt 10:16-23
Look, I send you out like sheep among wolves. You must be as clever as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard with people, for they will hand you over to their courts, and they will flog you in their synagogues. You will be brought to trial before rulers and kings because of me, so that you may witness to them and the pagans.
But when you are arrested, do not worry about what you are to say, or how you are to say it; when the hour comes, you will be given what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father, speaking through you.
Brother will hand over his brother to death, and a father his child; children will turn against their parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me, but whoever stands firm to the end will be saved.
When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next. I tell you the truth, you will not have passed through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
The gospel reading provides us a glimpse of the challenges the early Christians had to face, at a time when it was dangerous to be Christian. The believers had to practice their faith always at the risk of persecution and martyrdom. The systematic harassment was state-sponsored. The religious establishment labelled them rebels. Their families ridiculed and rejected them. In spite of these they remained firm and steadfast. The Lord was faithful to his promise to send them the Holy Spirit to guide and empower them, to give them the words they had to say.
The challenges to Christian discipleship today are quite different but not less demanding or distressing. They come with different names: secularism, relativism, materialism, hedonism and others more. Jesus’ teachings will necessarily disturb minds and hearts of people who consider them threats to their value-system and comfortable lifestyle. This could fuel hatred, persecution and martyrdom. We need not worry. Take courage. God is on our side. But we need to be wise, exercise caution and prudence.
1st Reading: Gen 49:29-32; 50:15-26a
Jacob gave his sons this charge:
“Since I am about to be taken to my people,
bury me with my fathers in the cave that lies
in the field of Ephron the Hittite,
the cave in the field of Machpelah,
facing on Mamre, in the land of Canaan,
the field that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite
for a burial ground.
There Abraham and his wife Sarah are buried,
and so are Isaac and his wife Rebekah,
and there, too, I buried Leah–
the field and the cave in it
that had been purchased from the Hittites.”
Now that their father was dead,
Joseph’s brothers became fearful and thought,
“Suppose Joseph has been nursing a grudge against us
and now plans to pay us back in full for all the wrong we did him!”
So they approached Joseph and said:
“Before your father died, he gave us these instructions:
‘You shall say to Joseph, Jacob begs you
to forgive the criminal wrongdoing of your brothers,
who treated you so cruelly.’
Please, therefore, forgive the crime that we,
the servants of your father’s God, committed.”
When they spoke these words to him, Joseph broke into tears.
Then his brothers proceeded to fling themselves down before him
and said, “Let us be your slaves!”
But Joseph replied to them:
“Have no fear. Can I take the place of God?
Even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good,
to achieve his present end, the survival of many people.
Therefore have no fear.
I will provide for you and for your children.”
By thus speaking kindly to them, he reassured them.
Joseph remained in Egypt, together with his father’s family.
He lived a hundred and ten years.
He saw Ephraim’s children to the third generation,
and the children of Manasseh’s son Machir
were also born on Joseph’s knees.
Joseph said to his brothers: “I am about to die.
God will surely take care of you and lead you out of this land to the land
that he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
Then, putting the sons of Israel under oath, he continued,
“When God thus takes care of you,
you must bring my bones up with you from this place.”
Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten.
Gospel: Mt 10:24-33
A student is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. A student should be content to become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If the head of the household has been called Beelzebul, how much more, those of his household! So, do not be afraid of them!
There is nothing covered that will not be uncovered. There is nothing hidden that will not be made known. What I am telling you in the dark, you must speak in the light. What you hear in private, proclaim from the housetops.
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but have no power to kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of him who can destroy both body and soul in hell. For a few cents you can buy two sparrows. Yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father knowing. As for you, every hair of your head has been counted. Do not be afraid: you are worth more than many sparrows!
Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven. Whoever rejects me before others, I will reject before my Father in heaven.
“Do not be afraid…!“ All of us have our own fears. These can be real or “manufactured“ by social forces like the various means of social communication. We are afraid of rejection, failure, old age, persecution, sickness and death. The Lord reminds us in today’s Gospel not to allow fear to cripple us, hence preventing us from continuing the mission entrusted to us. It is possible that, out of fear, we are tempted to water down God’s message or give up proclaiming it altogether. Giving in to fear is the result of a weakened faith. Jesus’ example is instructive. He spoke out fearlessly against evil. Nothing intimidated him. Even his enemies admired his courage. He had full trust and confidence in the Father.
The Lord assures us that if we place our trust in God’s power and providence, there is no reason for us to be anxious or scared of anything or anyone. When we commit ourselves to doing God’s work, we are assured that He will never abandon us. We are “worth more than many sparrows.“ He cares about us in a way we may never be able to fully understand. We can draw inspiration from St. Alphonsus Liguori who once said: “When did it ever happen that a man had confidence in God and was lost?“