Bible Diary for March 4th – 10thBible Diary
Third Sunday of Lent
1st Reading: Ex 20:1-17
In those days, God delivered all these commandments:
“I, the LORD, am your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.
You shall not have other gods besides me.
You shall not carve idols for yourselves
in the shape of anything in the sky above
or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth;
you shall not bow down before them or worship them.
For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God,
inflicting punishment for their fathers’ wickedness
on the children of those who hate me,
down to the third and fourth generation;
but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation
on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.
“You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain.
For the LORD will not leave unpunished
the one who takes his name in vain.
“Remember to keep holy the sabbath day.
Six days you may labor and do all your work,
but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD, your God.
No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter,
or your male or female slave, or your beast,
or by the alien who lives with you.
In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth,
the sea and all that is in them;
but on the seventh day he rested.
That is why the LORD has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
“Honor your father and your mother,
that you may have a long life in the land
which the LORD, your God, is giving you.
You shall not kill.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,
nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass,
nor anything else that belongs to him.”
2nd Reading: 1 Cor 1:22-25
Brothers and sisters:
Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom,
but we proclaim Christ crucified,
a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike,
Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom,
and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
Gospel: Jn 2:13-25
Since the Passover of the Jews was near,
Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves,
as well as the money changers seated there.
He made a whip out of cords
and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen,
and spilled the coins of the money changers
and overturned their tables,
and to those who sold doves he said,
“Take these out of here,
and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”
His disciples recalled the words of Scripture,
Zeal for your house will consume me.
At this the Jews answered and said to him,
“What sign can you show us for doing this?”
Jesus answered and said to them,
“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”
The Jews said,
“This temple has been under construction for forty-six years,
and you will raise it up in three days?”
But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
Therefore, when he was raised from the dead,
his disciples remembered that he had said this,
and they came to believe the Scripture
and the word Jesus had spoken.
While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover,
many began to believe in his name
when they saw the signs he was doing.
But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all,
and did not need anyone to testify about human nature.
He himself understood it well.
The Decalogue – the Ten Commandments – are placed before us along with the narrative of Jesus cleansing the temple. Paul reflects on the crucified Messiah as a scandal and nonsense in the eyes of the world, but as the perfect wisdom of God. Understanding the grammar of the cross which is the wisdom of God takes some serious inner cleansing – only if we throw away the merchandise of the world and the many idols that have cluttered our inner sanctuary can we appreciate the meaning and significance of the crucified Messiah who must be placed at the core of our being to be adored as the One True God beside whom no other false gods shall be. If the first commandment has to come alive in our lives, all other lesser loves shall vacate; or rather, all other lesser loves shall be loved in and through the love of the Crucified.
Pray for an inner cleansing of idols and primacy of the Crucified in your life.
Sit with your family/community; read and reflect together about the Commandment of primacy to God.
1st Reading: 2 K 5:1-15b
Naaman, the army commander of the king of Aram,
was highly esteemed and respected by his master,
for through him the LORD had brought victory to Aram.
But valiant as he was, the man was a leper.
Now the Arameans had captured in a raid on the land of Israel
a little girl, who became the servant of Naaman’s wife.
“If only my master would present himself to the prophet in Samaria,”
she said to her mistress, “he would cure him of his leprosy.”
Naaman went and told his lord
just what the slave girl from the land of Israel had said.
“Go,” said the king of Aram.
“I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.”
So Naaman set out, taking along ten silver talents,
six thousand gold pieces, and ten festal garments.
To the king of Israel he brought the letter, which read:
“With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you,
that you may cure him of his leprosy.”
When he read the letter,
the king of Israel tore his garments and exclaimed:
“Am I a god with power over life and death,
that this man should send someone to me to be cured of leprosy?
Take note! You can see he is only looking for a quarrel with me!”
When Elisha, the man of God,
heard that the king of Israel had torn his garments,
he sent word to the king:
“Why have you torn your garments?
Let him come to me and find out
that there is a prophet in Israel.”
Naaman came with his horses and chariots
and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house.
The prophet sent him the message:
“Go and wash seven times in the Jordan,
and your flesh will heal, and you will be clean.”
But Naaman went away angry, saying,
“I thought that he would surely come out and stand there
to invoke the LORD his God,
and would move his hand over the spot,
and thus cure the leprosy.
Are not the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar,
better than all the waters of Israel?
Could I not wash in them and be cleansed?”
With this, he turned about in anger and left.
But his servants came up and reasoned with him.
“My father,” they said,
“if the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary,
would you not have done it?
All the more now, since he said to you,
‘Wash and be clean,’ should you do as he said.”
So Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times
at the word of the man of God.
His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
He returned with his whole retinue to the man of God.
On his arrival he stood before him and said,
“Now I know that there is no God in all the earth,
Gospel: Lk 4:24-30
Jesus said to the people in the synagogue at Nazareth:
“Amen, I say to you,
no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel
in the days of Elijah
when the sky was closed for three and a half years
and a severe famine spread over the entire land.
It was to none of these that Elijah was sent,
but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
Again, there were many lepers in Israel
during the time of Elisha the prophet;
yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury.
They rose up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built,
to hurl him down headlong.
But he passed through the midst of them and went away.
First of all, it is hard enough to be called to be a prophet. It is not something you choose to be. You are chosen to be such. But of course the kern of prophecy has been embedded in us since we are baptized. And if we are religious that kern has grown into a full blown plant. In our present society, there are many situations that call for our prophetic response. There is the chronic poverty that is caused not by lack of resources but by the unequal distribution of wealth and the foreign control of our economy. The endemic and systemic corruption that riddles our society from top to bottom daunting to say the least. When you try to awaken people to these evils in our society, in our homes, convents, or communities, people can oppose us, criticize us, become suspicious of us or even publicly denounce us. Since they know us or even grew up with us, they cannot believe that we have truly been converted from our egoistic selves and are now engaged in this altruistic endeavor. But we have to expect this. Like the biblical prophets we can have “our heads cut off“ figuratively, but as I tell my co-activist: “Don‘t worry, it will grow again.“
1st Reading: Dn 3:25, 34-43
Azariah stood up in the fire and prayed aloud:
“For your name’s sake, O Lord, do not deliver us up forever,
or make void your covenant.
Do not take away your mercy from us,
for the sake of Abraham, your beloved,
Isaac your servant, and Israel your holy one,
To whom you promised to multiply their offspring
like the stars of heaven,
or the sand on the shore of the sea.
For we are reduced, O Lord, beyond any other nation,
brought low everywhere in the world this day
because of our sins.
We have in our day no prince, prophet, or leader,
no burnt offering, sacrifice, oblation, or incense,
no place to offer first fruits, to find favor with you.
But with contrite heart and humble spirit
let us be received;
As though it were burnt offerings of rams and bullocks,
or thousands of fat lambs,
So let our sacrifice be in your presence today
as we follow you unreservedly;
for those who trust in you cannot be put to shame.
And now we follow you with our whole heart,
we fear you and we pray to you.
Do not let us be put to shame,
but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy.
Deliver us by your wonders,
and bring glory to your name, O Lord.”
Gospel: Mt 18:21-35
Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
‘Pay back what you owe.’
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
But he refused.
Instead, he had him put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?’
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”
Sometimes it seems like Jesus is asking the impossible of his followers. It is hard enough to forgive once – but Jesus demands that we forgive seventy times seven times which actually means ALWAYS. In fact, when he taught us the Our Father, the prayer is asking for forgiveness AS WE forgive others which means that if we don‘t forgive others we are asking God not to forgive us! Yes, it is not easy to forgive. When I think for example of rape or incest victims, I understand why it is so hard for them, almost impossible, to forgive their abuser. It will take a long time. And to forgive does not mean to say that there was no sin or no harm done. No the perpetrators are still guilty and it can also mean that the victim can sue them. But forgiveness means not to wish these persons ill, also not to “wallow in the luxury of our misery“. Many of us find it hard to forgive the slightest slight or hurt to our ego. These are the ones that occur in our lives seventy times seven times and we are enjoined to forgive every time. Because every time we forgive, we weaken our ego and we come closer to finding our true selves.
Sts. Perpetua and Felicity
1st Reading: Dt 4:1, 5-9
Moses spoke to the people and said:
“Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees
which I am teaching you to observe,
that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land
which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you.
Therefore, I teach you the statutes and decrees
as the LORD, my God, has commanded me,
that you may observe them in the land you are entering to occupy.
Observe them carefully,
for thus will you give evidence
of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations,
who will hear of all these statutes and say,
‘This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.’
For what great nation is there
that has gods so close to it as the LORD, our God, is to us
whenever we call upon him?
Or what great nation has statutes and decrees
that are as just as this whole law
which I am setting before you today?
“However, take care and be earnestly on your guard
not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen,
nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live,
but 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 abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”
Laws are meant to facilitate life in community. Without laws or rules, there will be chaos and conflicts among people living together. But laws have a tendency to assume an independent existence of their own and to become oppressive if absolutized. When Jesus said he came to fulfill the law, he meant the laws that genuinely promote the peace, harmony and well-being. But he is aware that people in power can manipulate the law to their own ends or to make life harder for people. So there are instances in the Gospel when Jesus seemed to break the law — like when he healed during the Sabbath, when he allowed his disciples to pick grains during the Sabbath, when he and his disciples omitted the purification rituals before meals, etc. It is important that we have a healthy relationship to the law. We recognize that laws are important to guide peoples‘ relationship. But we should not follow them blindly. We have to see them in the context of the concrete situation and their impact on people. In education, what should be emphasized should not be conformity to rules and regulations but the development of good judgment and responsible decision making that is guided by reason and one‘s conscience. It also means taking responsibility for one‘s decision and the consequences of our actions.
St. John of God
1st Reading: Jer 7:23-28
Thus says the LORD:
This is what I commanded my people:
Listen to my voice;
then I will be your God and you shall be my people.
Walk in all the ways that I command you,
so that you may prosper.
But they obeyed not, nor did they pay heed.
They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts
and turned their backs, not their faces, to me.
From the day that your fathers left the land of Egypt even to this day,
I have sent you untiringly all my servants the prophets.
Yet they have not obeyed me nor paid heed;
they have stiffened their necks and done worse than their fathers.
When you speak all these words to them,
they will not listen to you either;
when you call to them, they will not answer you.
Say to them:
This is the nation that does not listen
to the voice of the LORD, its God,
or take correction.
Faithfulness has disappeared;
the word itself is banished from their speech.
Gospel: Lk 11:14-23
Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute,
and when the demon had gone out,
the mute man spoke and the crowds were amazed.
Some of them said, “By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons,
he drives out demons.”
Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven.
But he knew their thoughts and said to them,
“Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste
and house will fall against house.
And if Satan is divided against himself,
how will his kingdom stand?
For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons.
If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul,
by whom do your own people drive them out?
Therefore they will be your judges.
But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons,
then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.
When a strong man fully armed guards his palace,
his possessions are safe.
But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him,
he takes away the armor on which he relied
and distributes the spoils.
Whoever is not with me is against me,
and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
In the Scriptures, we read of incidents of God calling specific persons. Today, God speaks more to our hearts. But the call is no less real. Many religious, men and women have heard this call in their hearts and have responded. There might be other calls apart from a call to a way of life. It might be an inspiration to leave an addiction, to repulse a temptation, to come back to righteousness, to help someone in need, to forgive someone, to ask forgiveness from someone, etc. The call is often so quiet that one can actually not hear it because of the noisy distractions one surrounds oneself with. It is a moment of grace and that is why we are exhorted “not to harden our hearts“. Instead we keep the ear of our hearts always open to such unexpected invitations. This requires a continuous state of MINDFULNESS, living each moment in watchful awareness. SPEAK LORD, YOUR SERVANT IS LISTENING!
St. Frances of Rome
1st Reading: Hos 14:2-10
Thus says the LORD:
Return, O Israel, to the LORD, your God;
you have collapsed through your guilt.
Take with you words,
and return to the LORD;
Say to him, “Forgive all iniquity,
and receive what is good, that we may render
as offerings the bullocks from our stalls.
Assyria will not save us,
nor shall we have horses to mount;
We shall say no more, ‘Our god,’
to the work of our hands;
for in you the orphan finds compassion.”
I will heal their defection, says the LORD,
I will love them freely;
for my wrath is turned away from them.
I will be like the dew for Israel:
he shall blossom like the lily;
He shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar,
and put forth his shoots.
His splendor shall be like the olive tree
and his fragrance like the Lebanon cedar.
Again they shall dwell in his shade
and raise grain;
They shall blossom like the vine,
and his fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.
Ephraim! What more has he to do with idols?
I have humbled him, but I will prosper him.
“I am like a verdant cypress tree”–
Because of me you bear fruit!
Let him who is wise understand these things;
let him who is prudent know them.
Straight are the paths of the LORD,
in them the just walk,
but sinners stumble in them.
Gospel: Mk 12:28-34
One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
“Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher.
You are right in saying,
He is One and there is no other than he.
And to love him with all your heart,
with all your understanding,
with all your strength,
and to love your neighbor as yourself
is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding,
he said to him,
“You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”
And no one dared to ask him any more questions.
We are so used to quoting this phrase that we don‘t realize how significant it is. It is saying that the gauge of our loving others is loving ourselves. Sometimes we are taught the wrong idea that we should not love ourselves — that doing so is selfishness. But that is not true. We cannot truly love others if we do not love ourselves. What does this mean? It means first of all that we acknowledge that all of what we are is from God — gift of God. So the first act of loving ourselves is appreciating ourselves and thanking God that of all possible beings, we are the ones chosen to emerge from nothingness into being. Then we look at our selves — our body — the most amazing and most spectacular mechanism on earth — our circulatory system, our digestive system, how our brain works, the coordination of our muscles, bones, limbs — amazing. Loving ourselves means taking care of ourselves. It means maintaining good mental health, getting enough rest, avoiding addictions, forming good physical and mental habits, etc. It also means accepting ourselves for what we are — our gifts and our weaknesses. We are able to forgive ourselves and begin anew. And this is our way also of loving others — being caring and compassionate, being understanding and forgiving, being nurturing and considerate.
1st Reading: Hos 6:1-6
“Come, let us return to the LORD,
it is he who has rent, but he will heal us;
he has struck us, but he will bind our wounds.
He will revive us after two days;
on the third day he will raise us up,
to live in his presence.
Let us know, let us strive to know the LORD;
as certain as the dawn is his coming,
and his judgment shines forth like the light of day!
He will come to us like the rain,
like spring rain that waters the earth.”
What can I do with you, Ephraim?
What can I do with you, Judah?
Your piety is like a morning cloud,
like the dew that early passes away.
For this reason I smote them through the prophets,
I slew them by the words of my mouth;
For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice,
and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
Gospel: Lk 18:9-14
Jesus addressed this parable
to those who were convinced of their own righteousness
and despised everyone else.
“Two people went up to the temple area to pray;
one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself,
‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity —
greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week,
and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
But the tax collector stood off at a distance
and would not even raise his eyes to heaven
but beat his breast and prayed,
‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’
I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former;
for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
One of the rarest qualities of people is genuine humility. It seems to be a part of our psychological survival to be proud or vain. One can appear to be humble but in reality one is just submissive and subservient. There is also the so-called humility with a hook in which we engage in selfdeprecating statements hoping for someone to contradict us. The ego is so pervasive and is so wily that it insinuates itself into our actions and thoughts in disguised ways. Actually, one cannot be humble unless one has a healthy self-esteem. Someone puts it this way: One cannot be humble if one does not have something to be proud of. Actually a genuinely humble person has a healthy self-esteem that comes from an honest self-knowledge and self-acceptance. Humble people have an inner security which is immune to flattery and blame. Unlike people who are innerly insecure, they do not need to put up a front, a false façade to hide their insecurity. They do not have to flaunt their achievements and accomplishments. They are also not easily insulted or humiliated, because they know who they are and what people say does not make them grow or diminish even a single inch.