Bible Diary for March 19th – 25thBible Diary
3rd Sunday of Lent
1st Reading: Ex 17:3-7
The people thirsted for water there and grumbled against Moses, “Why did you make us leave Egypt to have us die of thirst with our children and our cattle?“
So Moses cried to Yahweh, “What shall I do with the people? They are almost ready to stone me!“ Yahweh said to Moses, “Go ahead of the people and take with you the elders of Israel. Take with you the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand there before you on the rock at Horeb. You will strike the rock and water will flow from it and the people will drink.“ Moses did this in the presence of the elders of Israel.
The place was called Massah and Meribah because of the complaints of the Israelites, who tested Yahweh saying, “Is Yahweh with us or not?“
2nd Reading: Rom 5:1-2, 5-8
Brothers and sisters: By faith, we have received true righteousness, and we are at peace with God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Through him, we obtain this favor, in which we remain, and we even boast to expect the glory of God.
And hope does not disappoint us, because the Holy Spirit has been given to us, pouring into our hearts the love of God.
Consider, moreover, the time that Christ died for us: when we were still helpless and unable to do anything. Few would accept to die for an upright person; although, for a very good person, perhaps someone would dare to die. But see how God manifested his love for us: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Gospel: Jn 4:5-42
He came to a Samaritan town called Sychar, near the land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well is there. Tired from his journey, Jesus sat down by the well; it was about noon. Now a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.“ His disciples had just gone into town to buy some food.
The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan and a woman, for a drink?“ (For Jews, in fact, have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift of God! If you knew who it is, who is asking you for a drink, you yourself would have asked me, and I would have given you living water.“
The woman answered, “Sir, you have no bucket, and this well is deep; where is your living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well; he drank from it himself, together with his sons and his cattle?“
Jesus said to her, “Those who drink of this water will be thirsty again; but those, who drink of the water that I shall give, will never be thirsty; for the water, that I shall give, will become in them a spring of water, welling up to eternal life.“
The woman said to him, “Give me this water, that I may never be thirsty, and never have to come here to draw water.“ Jesus said, “Go, call your husband, and come back here.“ The woman answered, “I have no husband.“ And Jesus replied, “You are right to say, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you said is true.“
The woman then said to him, “I see you are a prophet; tell me this: Our ancestors came to this mountain to worship God; but you Jews, do you not claim that Jerusalem is the only place to worship God?“
Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you shall worship the Father, but that will not be on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, because salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is even now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; for that is the kind of worshippers the Father wants. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit, and truth.“
The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah (that is the Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will tell us everything.“ And Jesus said, “I who am talking to you, I am he.“
At this point the disciples returned, and were surprised that Jesus was speaking with a woman; however, no one said, “What do you want?“ or, “Why are you talking with her?“ So the woman left her water jar and ran to the town. There she said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I did! Could he not be the Christ?“ So they left the town and went to meet him.
In the meantime, the disciples urged Jesus, “Master, eat.“ But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.“ And the disciples wondered, “Has anyone brought him food?“ Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me, and to carry out his work.
You say that in four months there will be the harvest; now, I say to you, look up and see the fields white and ready for harvesting. People who reap the harvest are paid for their work, and the fruit is gathered for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together.
Indeed the saying holds true: One sows and another reaps. I sent you to reap where you didn’t work or suffer; others have worked, and you are now sharing in their labors.“
In that town many Samaritans believed in him when they heard the woman who declared, “He told me everything I did.“ So, when they came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and Jesus stayed there two days. After that, many more believed because of his own words, and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of what you told us; we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is the Savior of the world.“
Moses provides drinking water from hard rock for Israel. Jesus provides living waters to the spiritually thirsty Samaritan woman and her people. Paul reflects on the highest gifts of God: virtues of faith, hope, and love.
The Samaritan woman returned to town leaving the water jar at the well. Whether accidental or deliberate, it communicates something: she braved the midday sun and came alone to fetch water that she desperately needed; but on meeting Jesus, she received a higher gift, and freely shared it with her community. Once transformed, like Paul, the material needs became dispensable. Like Mary, she chose wisely.
Along with the Samaritan woman, let us ask Jesus to give us the living water that wells up to eternal life.
Share your Christ-experience with someone today.
1st Reading: 2 S 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16
But that very night, Yahweh’s word came to Nathan, “Go and tell myserv ant David, this is what Yahweh says: Are you able to build a house for me to live in?
When the time comes for you to rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your son after you, the one born of you; and I will make his reign secure. He shall build a house for my name and I will firmly establish his kingship forever. I will be a father to him and he shall be my son. If he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod, as men do. Your house and your reign shall last forever before me, and your throne shall be forever firm.”
2nd Reading: Rom 4:13, 16-18, 22
If God promised Abraham, or rather his descendants, that the world would belong to him, this was not because of his obeying the law, but because he was just, and a friend of God, through faith.
For that reason, faith is the way, and all is given, by grace; and the promises of Abraham are fulfilled for all his descendants, not only for his children according to the law, but, also, for all the others, who have believed.
Abraham is the father of all of us, as it is written: I will make you the father of many nations. He is our father, in the eyes of Him, who gives life to the dead, and calls into existence, what does not yet exist, for this is the God in whom he believed.
Abraham believed, and hoped against all expectation, thus, becoming the father of many nations, as he had been told: See how many will be your descendants.
This was taken into account, for him to attain righteousness.
We begin this week with a celebration of the father of the holy family of Nazareth. And we will conclude with a celebration of the mother of the holy family.
Joseph was a pious Jew who followed the Law conscientiously. He obeyed the prescriptions of the Law even when it would be painful. When, therefore, he discovered that Mary, his betrothed wife was already pregnant before they could even live together, he knew that the Law mandated him to divorce Mary. He could only painfully conclude that there was somebody who had a greater right to Mary than himself. But he would do so quietly for he loved Mary whom he did not want to be disgraced or even be stoned to death for the presumed sin of adultery.
An angel of God appears to Joseph in a dream, however, revealing to him to continue his marriage with Mary for the child in her womb was not of man but of the Holy Spirit. Joseph the just man obeys. He had the faith of his fathers. Like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob he believed that “nothing is impossible with God.“ He obeyed!
We pray that like Joseph we may have the courage to obey God’s law even when it is difficult. Like Joseph we also pray that we may always have compassion in imposing the law. Most of all we pray that we may listen to our God who speaks to us in many ways, even in dreams.
1st Reading: Dn 3:25, 34-43
Azariah stood up in the midst of the fire and prayed aloud:
Do not abandon us forever, do not reject your Covenant for your name’s sake.
Do not withdraw your mercy from us, for the sake of Abraham, your friend, of Isaac, your servant, of Israel, your holy one, to whom you promised to multiply their race as the stars of heaven and the sand on the shore of the sea.
Lord, see, we have become the least among the nations in all the world, and we are humiliated because of our sins.
At this time, we no longer have a king, or prophet, or leader. We cannot offer you holocausts, sacrifices, offerings, or incense. We have no place to present to you the first fruits of our crops, and so obtain your favor.
But at least when we present ourselves with a contrite soul and humbled spirit may we then be acceptable to you, more than by offerings of rams and calves as holocausts, and of thousands of fat lambs.
May this sacrifice of ours today obtain for us your favor, for we know that those who trust in you shall never be disappointed.
And now, we serve you with our whole heart, we fear you and we seek your face. Do not leave us in our humiliation, but treat us according to your kindness and your great mercy. Free us, in keeping with your wonders, and give us the glory of your name, Lord.
Gospel: Mt 18:21-35
Peter asked him, “Lord, how many times must I forgive the offenses of my brother or sister? Seven times?“ Jesus answered, “No, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. This story throws light on the kingdom of Heaven: A king decided to settle accounts with his servants. Among the first of them was one who owed him ten thousand pieces of gold. As the man could not repay the debt, the king commanded that he be sold as a slave with his wife, his children and all his goods, as repayment. The servant threw himself at the feet of the king and said, ‘Give me time, and I will pay you back everything.’ The king took pity on him, and not only set him free, but even cancelled his debt. When this servant left the king’s presence, he met one of his fellow servants, who owed him a hundred pieces of silver. He grabbed him by the throat and almost choked him, shouting, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ His fellow servant threw himself at his feet and begged him, ‘Give me time, and I will pay everything.’ But the other did not agree, and sent him to prison until he had paid all his debt. Now the servants of the king saw what had happened. They were extremely upset, and so they went and reported everything to their lord. Then the lord summoned his servant and said, ‘Wicked servant, I forgave you all that you owed me when you begged me to do so. Weren’t you bound to have pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ The lord was now angry. He handed the wicked servant over to be punished, until he had paid the whole debt.“ Jesus added, “So will my heavenly Father do with you, unless you sincerely forgive your brothers and sisters.“
Our constant prayer is always “Lord, have mercy on me!“ This is the substance of the prayer of Azariah in the book of Daniel in our first reading. The book of Proverbs tells us: “For a righteous man falls seven times (Proverbs 24:16).“ We have to always remember that we need to be forgiven. Daily! So we also pray the “Our Father“ and daily pray for forgiveness.
The parable of the unforgiving servant in the Gospel of today reminds us that our God forgives us our trespasses over and over. In the Latin translation of the Our Father we beg forgiveness for our “debts.“ The parable tells us that our “debt“, our “utang“ is so astronomically unpayable so the Lord simply forgives us! And so, as we have been forgiven so much, so we must in turn be forgiving of the miniscule offenses of our fellow servants. The parable reminds us that the greatest ingratitude to our merciful God that we can commit is to be unforgiving of “debts“ of our fellow sinners.
The warning of the Lord is very clear! Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Refuse to forgive, and you may in turn be refused forgiveness! Are you ready to forgive?
1st Reading: Dt 4:1, 5-9
And now, Israel, listen to the norms and laws which I teach that you may put them into practice. And you will live and enter and take possession of the land which Yahweh, the God of your fathers, gives you.
See, as Yahweh, my God, ordered me, I am teaching you the norms and the laws that you may put them into practice in the land you are going to enter and have as your own. If you observe and practice them, other peoples will regard you as wise and intelligent. When they come tot know of all these laws, they will say, “There is no people as wise and as intelligent as this great nation.“ For in truth, is there a nation as great as ours, whose gods are as near to it as Yahweh, our God, is to us whenever we call upon him? And is there a nation as great as ours whose norms and laws are as just as this law which I give you today?
But be careful and be on your guard. Do not forget these things which your own eyes have seen nor let them depart from your heart as long as you live. But on the contrary, teach them to your children and to your children’s children.
Gospel: Mt 5:17-19
Jesus said to his disciples, “Do not think that I have come to annul the law and the prophets. I have not come to annul them, but to fulfill them. I tell you this: as long as heaven and earth last, not the smallest letter or dot in the law will change, until all is fulfilled.
“So then, whoever breaks the least important of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be the least in the kingdom of heaven. On the other hand, whoever obeys them, and teaches others to do the same, will be great in the kingdom of heaven.“
The greatness of any nation is measured by the Law that guides it. The Law enshrines the values of a people. That which a people considers valuable and important is carved on stone. Such was the case of Israel, the people of God. The Torah guided the life of Israel.
The Law given at Sinai contain the fundamental laws of any society. In fact, all nations follow the prescriptions of the Law. The first tablet guides religious life, and the second tablet guides human relationships. Even if one were not a Christian believer, still the first tablet remains applicable in its essence, honor and devotion to a diety or superior being . The second tablet on the other hand establishes laws without which any human society cannot exist. What would society be if the second tablet were discarded? Can you imagine a society that would not respect life, property, and relationships? Can you imagine a society that does not believe in truth? What if murder, theft, and lying, and adultery were no longer deemed wrong? Would there be justice in such a society? Would there be honor among people? Would there be peace?
When, therefore, any nation tries to do away with these fundamental laws society would be on the road to perdition. The collapse of great empires were all due to their moral depravity. May it not happen to us!
1st Reading: Jer 7:23-28
One thing I did command them: Listen to my voice and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in the way I command you and all will be well with you. But they did not listen and paid no attention. They followed the bad habits of their stubborn heart and turned away from me.
From the time I brought their ancestors out of Egypt until this day I have continually sent them my servants, the prophets; but this stiff-necked people did not listen. They paid no attention and were worse than their ancestors.
You may say all these things to them but they will not listen. You will call them but they will not answer. This is a nation that did not obey Yahweh and refused to be disciplined. Truth has perished and is no longer heard from their lips.
Gospel: Lk 11:14-23
Jesus was driving out a demon, which was mute. When the demon had been driven out, the mute person could speak, and the people were amazed. Yet some of them said, “He drives out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the chief of the demons.“ Others wanted to put him to the test, by asking him for a heavenly sign.
But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them, “Every nation divided by civil war is on the road to ruin, and will fall. If Satan also is divided, his empire is coming to an end. How can you say that I drive out demons by calling upon Beelzebul? If I drive them out by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons drive out demons? They will be your judges, then.
“But if I drive out demons by the finger of God; would not this mean that the kingdom of God has come upon you? As long as a man, strong and well armed, guards his house, his goods are safe. But when a stronger man attacks and overcomes him, the challenger takes away all the weapons he relied on, and disposes of his spoils.
“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me, scatters.“
The principal complaint of Yahweh about his people in the Old Testament was that they were a “stiff-necked“ people. There are three things that characterized the “stiff-neckedness“ of Israel: (1) they had amnesia, they tended to forget the works of the Lord, (2) they persisted in their evil ways despite frequent admonition from the prophets, (3) even when being corrected they remained obstinate. In other words, they did not listen to Yahweh.
Thus, “Listen,“ is the fundamental command of the Lord. Israel had the great privilege of having the 10 commandments to guide them. Yet despite the clear guidelines the Lord had given them they repeatedly disobeyed the Law. Time and again prophets came; but all to no avail. They were indeed a “stiff-necked“ people.
May we not become “stiff-necked“ people. May we instead repent of our evil ways, remember the mercies of the Lord, turn to the Lord in penance, mend our ways. This season of Lent is the time to “turn our necks to the Lord“ in humble penance and trust in Divine mercy.
Blessed Oscar Romero
1st Reading: Hos 14:2-10
Return to your God, Yahweh, O Israel! Your sins have caused your downfall. Return to Yahweh with humble words. Say to him, “Oh, you who show compassion to the fatherless, forgive our debt, be appeased. Instead of bulls and sacrifices, accept the praise from our lips. Assyria will not save us: no longer shall we look for horses, nor ever again shall we say ‘Our gods’ to the work of our hands.“ I will heal their disloyalty and love them with all my heart, for my anger has turned from them. I shall be like dew to Israel, like the lily will he blossom. Like a cedar, he will send down his roots; his young shoots will grow and spread. His splendor will be like an olive tree, his fragrance, like a Lebanon cedar. They will dwell in my shade again, they will flourish like the grain, they will blossom like a vine, and their fame will be like Lebanon wine. What would Ephraim do with idols, when it is I who hear and make him prosper? I am like an ever-green cypress tree; all your fruitfulness comes from me.
Who is wise enough to grasp all this? Who is discerning and will understand? Straight are the ways of Yahweh: the just walk in them, but the sinners stumble.
Gospel: Mk 12:28-34
A teacher of the law had been listening to this discussion and admired how Jesus answered them. So he came up and asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?“
Jesus answered, “The first is: Hear, Israel! The Lord, our God, is One Lord; and you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. And after this comes a second commandment: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these two.“
The teacher of the law said to him, “Well spoken, Master; you are right when you say that he is one, and there is no other besides him. To love him with all our heart, with all our understanding and with all our strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves is more important than any burnt offering or sacrifice.“
Jesus approved this answer and said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.“ And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.
“Almost, but not quite“ is a phrase we use to console those who missed the grade. It tells them that just a little more and they would have made it. It is a complement but hardly an accolade. A grade of 74 is almost 75. It is not yet enough to pass, nonetheless. Such is the grade of the teacher of the law who interviewed Jesus. “You are not far from the kingdom“ said Jesus. He was almost in but not yet inside, unfortunately.
Why was the wise teacher still outside? Because he knew the truth, but knew it only in his head. To be part of kingdom one must not only know the truth in ones’ head but also to know it in one’s heart, that is, to live by it. The one “best in religion“ is not really the one who has a grade of 95 in the test examination but the one who practices his faith. One may know the definition of love, but if one does not actually love what good is the knowledge of it?
In the Gospel of Luke version of this episode the interlocutor would further ask “who is my neighbor?“ Jesus will then answer with the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Those who belong to the kingdom are not so much those who know as much as those who do! Are you in the kingdom? Or are you “almost in, but not yet quite?“
Annunciation of the Lord
1st Reading: Is 7:10-14; 8:10
Once again Yahweh addressed Ahaz, “Ask for a sign from Yahweh your God, let it come either from the deepest depths or from the heights of heaven.“
But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask, I will not put Yahweh to the test.“
Then Isaiah said, “Now listen, descendants of David. Have you not been satisfied trying the patience of people, that you also try the patience of my God? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:
Devise a plan and it will be thwarted, make a resolve and it will not stand, for God-is-with-us.
2nd Reading: Heb 10:4-10
And never, will the blood of bulls and goats take away these sins.
This is why, on entering the world, Christ says: You did not desire sacrifice and offering; you were not pleased with burnt offerings and sin offerings. Then I said: “Here I am. It was written of me in the scroll. I will do your will, O God.”
First he says: Sacrifice, offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire nor were you pleased with them—although they were required by the law. Then he says: Here I am to do your will.
This is enough to nullify the first will and establish the new. Now, by this will of God, we are sanctified, once, and for all, by the sacrifice of the body of Christ Jesus.
Gospel: Lk 1:26-38
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God, to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a virgin, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
The angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you!“ Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean.
But the angel said, “Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you. You shall conceive and bear a son; and you shall call him Jesus. He will be great, and shall rightly be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the kingdom of David, his ancestor; he will rule over the people of Jacob forever; and his reign shall have no end.“
Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?“ And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the holy child to be born of you shall be called Son of God. Even your relative, Elizabeth, is expecting a son in her old age, although she was unable to have a child; and she is now in her sixth month. With God nothing is impossible.“
Then Mary said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said.“ And the angel left her.
Let us transport ourselves to the time of the Annunciation. Mary was betrothed to Joseph. They were not yet living together. Mary is asked to conceive a child in her womb by “The Holy Spirit.“ When Joseph would see her already pregnant before their marriage how would she explain her pregnancy? How would Joseph react? Would Joseph conclude she had been unfaithful? Would Joseph accept her explanation that the Holy Spirit is the one responsible for her pregnancy? Difficult questions.
But these all too human questions, difficult as they, are hardly the real questions. The Lord God had made a most difficult proposition to Mary. She probably didn’t know all the implications of her “be it done to me according to your word.“ Only later on, much later on, will she understand the full meaning of “Yes“ to the Father’s request. Little did she know that by her Fiat she had set in motion the reason for the Incarnation, that her Son would become the sacrificial lamb on Calvary. Little did she know that by her “Yes“ she was cooperating with the redemption of the world but at the cost of own soul being pierced with that of her Son.
As we honor Mary today we must ask her to teach us her faith in God. When I said my “yes“ to become a priest, little did I know the many trials and difficulties I would encounter in my journey. But like Mary I have to continually say “yes“ to God’s will. Like Mary, we are all part of God’s marvelous plan of redemption. It is good to cooperate with God in his work of redemption. We all can become like Mary, the mother of our Savior, as we say “yes“ to the little sufferings we have to bear for our faith!