Bible Diary for March 18th – 24thBible Diary
Fifth Sunday of Lent
1st Reading: Jer 31:31-34
The days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel
and the house of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers
the day I took them by the hand
to lead them forth from the land of Egypt;
for they broke my covenant,
and I had to show myself their master, says the LORD.
But this is the covenant that I will make
with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD.
I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts;
I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
No longer will they have need to teach their friends and relatives
how to know the LORD.
All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the LORD,
for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.
2nd Reading: Heb 5:7-9
In the days when Christ Jesus was in the flesh,
he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears
to the one who was able to save him from death,
and he was heard because of his reverence.
Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered;
and when he was made perfect,
he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
Gospel: Jn 12:20-33
Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast
came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee,
and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.”
Philip went and told Andrew;
then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.
Jesus answered them,
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Whoever loves his life loses it,
and whoever hates his life in this world
will preserve it for eternal life.
Whoever serves me must follow me,
and where I am, there also will my servant be.
The Father will honor whoever serves me.
“I am troubled now. Yet what should I say?
‘Father, save me from this hour’?
But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.
Father, glorify your name.”
Then a voice came from heaven,
“I have glorified it and will glorify it again.”
The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder;
but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”
Jesus answered and said,
“This voice did not come for my sake but for yours.
Now is the time of judgment on this world;
now the ruler of this world will be driven out.
And when I am lifted up from the earth,
I will draw everyone to myself.”
He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.
Yahweh declares a new Covenant whereby He would forgive and forget people‘s wrongdoings and inscribe His Law of Love in their hearts. Jesus preaches the Grain Theory: how death leads to abundance of life. The letter to the Hebrews speaks about how Jesus practiced this theory. Pope Francis, in his Jubilee Retreat to priests in June 2016 remarked: “True Grace is to forget.“ Not anamnesis, but amnesia. The scriptural readings of the day confirm it. God promises to forget our sins, forever. Can there be a greater grace? Jesus invites us to forget ourselves – can there be a greater grace either? Jesus is not preaching about doing violence to ourselves (he didn‘t say, “kill yourself“); rather, he gives us a “Grain Theory,“ talking about a certain spiritual forgetfulness by which we let our lives fall so that we are free to become life for the world. The inability to forget is a sign of sickness and ill health – like our constant obsession with our teeth when we have a toothache. When our teeth are healthy, we forget we have teeth, but use them well. Or, when we have headache, we obsess about our head; but when we are healthy in head, we forget we have one, but use it well. Similarly, when we are sick in self, we obsess about our self; when we are healthy in our self, we simply forget we have one, let it fall and become bread for the world.
Lord, give me the true grace of forgetfulness.
Observe nature and see how death naturally leads to life; and how resistance to death leads to ossification of life.
St. Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary
1st Reading: 2 S 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16
The LORD spoke to Nathan and said:
“Go, tell my servant David,
‘When your time comes and you rest with your ancestors,
I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins,
and I will make his kingdom firm.
It is he who shall build a house for my name.
And I will make his royal throne firm forever.
I will be a father to him,
and he shall be a son to me.
Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me;
your throne shall stand firm forever.’”
Gospel: Mt 1:16, 18-21, 24a
Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.
Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.
One of the most quiet protagonists in the Gospels is Joseph, the husband of Mary. And only one word describes him: UPRIGHT. Let us start from the traits of Joseph that prompted the Gospel writer to call him upright. We meet him first when Mary was betrothed to him. When he found out that Mary was with child, he did not just close his eyes but acknowledged that he had to somehow divorce her according to the law but he wanted to protect Mary so he was planning to do it as quietly as possible. The first trait that is shown is TRUTH, AUTHENTICITY. One has to face the truth even how unpalatable it is. But he was COMPASSIONATE about it. An upright person does not want to destroy another person. Then when he was told that the child is not of any human father but was conceived by the Holy Spirit, he then assumed the RESPONSIBILITY of taking care of the child and Mary. Then the next scene was the warning about the threat to Jesus‘ life. He was DOCILE to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and took care of the safety of his charges. In the finding of Jesus in the temple, he showed CONCERN for the welfare of the lost Child. But when he realized that Jesus was “doing His Father‘s business“, like Mary, HE KEPT THE THINGS HE DID NOT UNDERSTAND AND PONDERED THEM IN HIS HEART.
1st Reading: Num 21:4-9
From Mount Hor the children of Israel set out on the Red Sea road,
to bypass the land of Edom.
But with their patience worn out by the journey,
the people complained against God and Moses,
“Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert,
where there is no food or water?
We are disgusted with this wretched food!”
In punishment the LORD sent among the people saraph serpents,
which bit the people so that many of them died.
Then the people came to Moses and said,
“We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you.
Pray the LORD to take the serpents away from us.”
So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses,
“Make a saraph and mount it on a pole,
and whoever looks at it after being bitten will live.”
Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole,
and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent
looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.
Gospel: Jn 8:21-30
Jesus said to the Pharisees:
“I am going away and you will look for me,
but you will die in your sin.
Where I am going you cannot come.”
So the Jews said,
“He is not going to kill himself, is he,
because he said, ‘Where I am going you cannot come’?”
He said to them, “You belong to what is below,
I belong to what is above.
You belong to this world,
but I do not belong to this world.
That is why I told you that you will die in your sins.
For if you do not believe that I AM,
you will die in your sins.”
So they said to him, “Who are you?”
Jesus said to them, “What I told you from the beginning.
I have much to say about you in condemnation.
But the one who sent me is true,
and what I heard from him I tell the world.”
They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father.
So Jesus said to them,
“When you lift up the Son of Man,
then you will realize that I AM,
and that I do nothing on my own,
but I say only what the Father taught me.
The one who sent me is with me.
He has not left me alone,
because I always do what is pleasing to him.”
Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him.
When we have time to reflect, we could ask ourselves, what guides me in my decisions and in my actions? And if we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that most of the time it is our EGO that dictates our decisions — what can flatter the ego, what can inflate the ego, what can make the ego be noticed, etc. In contrast, Jesus can truthfully say that all his decisions and actions are dictated consistently by just one thing: THE WILL OF HIS FATHER. And the will of the Father is always for the good of all humankind. This is not always easy to do because it may mean undergoing pain and suffering or humiliation. This single-mindedness characterizes Jesus. We, on the other hand, are distracted by so many things — by fear, by the desire to please, to be approved of, or simply by our love of comfort and convenience. Or we can even deceive ourselves that the action that pleases us is what pleases the Father. Loving God, give me the grace to do everything because it pleases you. Amen.
1st Reading: Dn 3:14-20, 91-92, 95
King Nebuchadnezzar said:
“Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
that you will not serve my god,
or worship the golden statue that I set up?
Be ready now to fall down and worship the statue I had made,
whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet,
flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe,
and all the other musical instruments;
otherwise, you shall be instantly cast into the white-hot furnace;
and who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar,
“There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you
in this matter.
If our God, whom we serve,
can save us from the white-hot furnace
and from your hands, O king, may he save us!
But even if he will not, know, O king,
that we will not serve your god
or worship the golden statue that you set up.”
King Nebuchadnezzar’s face became livid with utter rage
against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times more than usual
and had some of the strongest men in his army
bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
and cast them into the white-hot furnace.
Nebuchadnezzar rose in haste and asked his nobles,
“Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?”
“Assuredly, O king,” they answered.
“But,” he replied, “I see four men unfettered and unhurt,
walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a son of God.”
“Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him;
they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies
rather than serve or worship any god
except their own God.”
Gospel: Jn 8:31-42
Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him,
“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples,
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham
and have never been enslaved to anyone.
How can you say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.
A slave does not remain in a household forever,
but a son always remains.
So if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free.
I know that you are descendants of Abraham.
But you are trying to kill me,
because my word has no room among you.
I tell you what I have seen in the Father’s presence;
then do what you have heard from the Father.”
They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.”
Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children,
you would be doing the works of Abraham.
But now you are trying to kill me,
a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God;
Abraham did not do this.
You are doing the works of your father!”
So they said to him, “We were not born of fornication.
We have one Father, God.”
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me,
for I came from God and am here;
I did not come on my own, but he sent me.”
We have heard of this adage so often, we take for granted that we know its full meaning. But it is good to come back to it once in a while to see what further insights we can gain from it. First, maybe we should dwell on how falsehood shackles us. We have seen how people, when they begin with a lie, they have to manufacture more and more lies to bolster their first lie and before they know it they are entangled in lies and can no longer distinguish what is false from what is true, what is real and what is illusion. I have known people who have kept a secret infidelity from their spouses for years and years and then one day, the truth had to come out and it almost ended their marriage. But after some time they started to live with it and the relief that the spouse who had the secret is truly unbounded. The hurt remains especially for the aggrieved spouse but even for him/ her, there grows a feeling that s/he will survive and actually felt relief because s/ he admits that even before the revelation, s/he had somehow a sneaking suspicion that there was something being held back from him/ her. Now that everything is in the open, s/he has lost that feeling. Truly TRUTH does make us free.
1st Reading: Gen 17:3-9
When Abram prostrated himself, God spoke to him:
“My covenant with you is this:
you are to become the father of a host of nations.
No longer shall you be called Abram;
your name shall be Abraham,
for I am making you the father of a host of nations.
I will render you exceedingly fertile;
I will make nations of you;
kings shall stem from you.
I will maintain my covenant with you
and your descendants after you
throughout the ages as an everlasting pact,
to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.
I will give to you
and to your descendants after you
the land in which you are now staying,
the whole land of Canaan, as a permanent possession;
and I will be their God.”
God also said to Abraham:
“On your part, you and your descendants after you
must keep my covenant throughout the ages.”
Gospel: Jn 8:51-59
Jesus said to the Jews:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever keeps my word will never see death.”
So the Jews said to him,
“Now we are sure that you are possessed.
Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say,
‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’
Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died?
Or the prophets, who died?
Who do you make yourself out to be?”
Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing;
but it is my Father who glorifies me,
of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’
You do not know him, but I know him.
And if I should say that I do not know him,
I would be like you a liar.
But I do know him and I keep his word.
Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day;
he saw it and was glad.”
So the Jews said to him,
“You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
before Abraham came to be, I AM.”
So they picked up stones to throw at him;
but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area.
This is an example of the pronouncements of Jesus that people cannot take because they remain at the surface grammar of the statement which of course contradicts their experience. They were so scandalized that they turned violent against him because they considered what he was saying as blasphemy because he attributes the truth of his statement to his Father, who is God. So what could he have meant when he said that whoever keeps his word will not experience death. In other parts of the Gospel he proclaimed that he was the TRUTH, THE WAY, AND THE LIFE. So his words and words of life — the life of the spirit. So when one hears and keeps his words, one becomes spiritually alive. And one who is spiritually alive will transcend death. Death is for that person a transition to greater life, to everlasting life.
1st Reading: Jer 20:10-13
I hear the whisperings of many:
“Terror on every side!
Denounce! let us denounce him!”
All those who were my friends
are on the watch for any misstep of mine.
“Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail,
and take our vengeance on him.”
But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion:
my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.
In their failure they will be put to utter shame,
to lasting, unforgettable confusion.
O LORD of hosts, you who test the just,
who probe mind and heart,
Let me witness the vengeance you take on them,
for to you I have entrusted my cause.
Sing to the LORD,
praise the LORD,
For he has rescued the life of the poor
from the power of the wicked!
Gospel: Jn 10:31-42
The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus.
Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father.
For which of these are you trying to stone me?”
The Jews answered him,
“We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy.
You, a man, are making yourself God.”
Jesus answered them,
“Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, ‘You are gods”‘?
If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came,
and Scripture cannot be set aside,
can you say that the one
whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world
blasphemes because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?
If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me;
but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me,
believe the works, so that you may realize and understand
that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
Then they tried again to arrest him;
but he escaped from their power.
He went back across the Jordan
to the place where John first baptized, and there he remained.
Many came to him and said,
“John performed no sign,
but everything John said about this man was true.”
And many there began to believe in him.
This is a very consoling verse of the Psalm 18. When we are in distress, we need badly someone we can talk to, who will listen to us, who will help us in our need. Just knowing that someone is listening to us is already a help even if the situation does not change. It is consoling to know that we can always call on the Lord who always hears us. Maybe we may not experience right away the help we are asking for but we are sure that we are heard. Most of the time God uses people as messengers to tell us that we have been heard. All of a sudden we meet a friend, or a relative or maybe even a stranger who would show us the way we must go or will help us to decide what course of action to take or not to take. As Scripture says in other verses, “Seek and you shall find, ask and it shall be given unto you.“
Blessed Oscar Romero
1st Reading: Ez 37:21-28
Thus says the Lord GOD:
I will take the children of Israel from among the nations
to which they have come,
and gather them from all sides to bring them back to their land.
I will make them one nation upon the land,
in the mountains of Israel,
and there shall be one prince for them all.
Never again shall they be two nations,
and never again shall they be divided into two kingdoms.
No longer shall they defile themselves with their idols,
their abominations, and all their transgressions.
I will deliver them from all their sins of apostasy,
and cleanse them so that they may be my people
and I may be their God.
My servant David shall be prince over them,
and there shall be one shepherd for them all;
they shall live by my statutes and carefully observe my decrees.
They shall live on the land that I gave to my servant Jacob,
the land where their fathers lived;
they shall live on it forever,
they, and their children, and their children’s children,
with my servant David their prince forever.
I will make with them a covenant of peace;
it shall be an everlasting covenant with them,
and I will multiply them, and put my sanctuary among them forever.
My dwelling shall be with them;
I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Thus the nations shall know that it is I, the LORD,
who make Israel holy,
when my sanctuary shall be set up among them forever.
Gospel: Jn 11:45-56
Many of the Jews who had come to Mary
and seen what Jesus had done began to believe in him.
But some of them went to the Pharisees
and told them what Jesus had done.
So the chief priests and the Pharisees
convened the Sanhedrin and said,
“What are we going to do?
This man is performing many signs.
If we leave him alone, all will believe in him,
and the Romans will come
and take away both our land and our nation.”
But one of them, Caiaphas,
who was high priest that year, said to them,
“You know nothing,
nor do you consider that it is better for you
that one man should die instead of the people,
so that the whole nation may not perish.”
He did not say this on his own,
but since he was high priest for that year,
he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation,
and not only for the nation,
but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God.
So from that day on they planned to kill him.
So Jesus no longer walked about in public among the Jews,
but he left for the region near the desert,
to a town called Ephraim,
and there he remained with his disciples.
Now the Passover of the Jews was near,
and many went up from the country to Jerusalem
before Passover to purify themselves.
They looked for Jesus and said to one another
as they were in the temple area, “What do you think?
That he will not come to the feast?”
This promise of God is the promise of abiding presence in our lives. Actually God does not have to promise this or need to fulfill this promise because God is not only present to us, we are permeated by the divine which is the ground of our being. Actually the promise might be that we become aware of this presence, this all ABIDING PRESENCE. It is we who are not at home in the depths of our being. I think the most effective way of coming to this awareness is by meditation. If we are told that there is a gold mine in our garden, we will not search for it with a spoon or even a spade. We would use a drill to arrive fastest at our goal. This is what meditation does. It helps us to go into the depths of our being to discover the Divine that has always been there, establish a communion and allow this communion to steer the direction of our lives. We are distracted by many things especially in our current situation. There is too much noise, there are too many pictures, a deluge of information, changing experiences that capture our attention. It is important that we regularly seek solitude and in silence and meditation we dive into that center of our being where God is at home.