Bible Diary for October 29th – November 4thBible Diary
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Ex 22:20-26
You shall not wrong or oppress a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
You shall not harm the widow or the orphan. If you do harm them and they cry out to me, I will hear them and my anger will blaze and I will kill you with the sword, and your own wives will be widows and your own children orphans.
If you lend money to any of my people who are poor, do not act like a moneylender and do not charge him interest.
If ever you take a person‘s cloak as a pledge, you must give it back to him by sunset, for it is all the covering he has for his body. In what else will he sleep? And when he cries to me I will hear him, for I am full of pity.
2nd Reading: 1 Thes 1:5c-10
The gospel we brought you was such, not only in words. Miracles, the Holy Spirit, and plenty of everything, were given to you. You, also, know how we dealt with you, for your sake.
In return, you became followers of us, and of the Lord, when, on receiving the word, you experienced the joy of the Holy Spirit, in the midst of great opposition. And you became a model for the faithful of Macedonia and Achaia, since, from you, the word of the Lord spread to Macedonia and Achaia, and still farther. The faith you have in God has become news in so many places, that we need say no more about it. Others tell, of how you welcomed us, and turned from idols, to the Lord. For you serve the living and true God, and you wait for his Son, from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus, who frees us from impending trial.
Gospel: Mt 22:34-40
When the Pharisees heard how Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they assembled together. One of them, a lawyer, questioned him to test him, ”Teacher, which commandment of the law is the greatest?”
Jesus answered, ”You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and the most important of the commandments. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets are founded on these two commandments.”
Strangers, widows, and orphans – people on the margins – are precious for God and God wants us to care for them. Paul commends the Thessalonians for their life of faith. Jesus declares the greatest commandment. Why is that love of God and neighbor needed to be ”commanded?” Something is commanded only when it does not happen spontaneously. Hence, love of God and neighbor does not arise in us naturally. Left to ourselves, our focus of love is ourselves, and the other is hell, often the object of our envy and rivalry. Cain-Abel story proves it for us. But this goes against the purpose for which God created us. Hence the commandment to love God and neighbor and thereby grow into the fullness of being that God has envisioned for us.
Pray for the grace to honor the Commandments on a daily basis.
Do an act of love for a stranger/widow/orphan – your neighbor who is on the margins.
1st Reading: Rom 8:12-17
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.
All those who walk in the Spirit of God are sons and daughters of God. Then, no more fear: you did not receive a spirit of slavery, but the spirit that makes you sons and daughters, and every time, we cry, ”Abba! (this is Dad!) Father!” the Spirit assures our spirit, that we are sons and daughters of God. If we are children, we are heirs, too. Ours will be the inheritance of God, and we will share it with Christ; for, if we now suffer with him, we will also share glory with him.
Gospel: Lk 13:10-17
Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath, and a crippled woman was there. An evil spirit had kept her bent for eighteen years, so that she could not straighten up at all. On seeing her, Jesus called her and said, ”Woman, you are freed from your infirmity.” Then he laid his hands upon her, and immediately she was made straight and praised God.
But the ruler of the synagogue was indignant, because Jesus had performed this healing on the Sabbath day, and he said to the people, ”There are six days in which to work. Come on those days to be healed, and not on the Sabbath!”
But the Lord replied, ”You hypocrites! Everyone of you unties his ox or his donkey on the Sabbath, and leads it out of the barn to give it water. And here you have a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan had bound for eighteen years. Should she not be freed from her bonds on the Sabbath?”
When Jesus said this, all his opponents felt ashamed. But the people rejoiced at the many wonderful things that happened because of him.
By freeing the woman from her infirmity, Jesus fulfills his task of releasing captives from the bonds of evil (cf. v. 4:18). Likewise, he shows the deep meaning of the Sabbath, i.e. liberating humans from the consequences of the fallen order; and he demonstrates its true purpose, i.e., encouraging works of compassion and not forbidding them.
There are various factors that could bind people: ignorance–Jesus ‘teaches‘ to let people know about God and to free them from ignorance (v.10); infirmity -he laid his hand on the crippled woman and immediately she was made straight and praised God (v.11); people–”the ruler of the synagogue” was indignant when Jesus cured the woman (v.14); law (”Sabbath law”)–the ruler said, ”There are six days in which to work. Come on those days to be healed, and not on the Sabbath!” (v.14); and evil–”Satan” has bound the woman for eighteen years (v. 16).
We are called today to trust Jesus for he has the power to free us from different factors that bind and prevent people from becoming holy. Likewise, we are reminded to avoid imitating the ruler of the synagogue so that we may not hinder our neighbor from being healed and may not add to the burdens they are carrying.
1st Reading: Rom 8:18-25
I consider, that the suffering of our present life cannot be compared with the glory that will be revealed, and given to us. All creation is eagerly expecting the birth, in glory, of the children of God. For, if now, the created world was unable to attain its purpose, this did not come from itself, but from the one who subjected it. But it is not without hope; for even the created world, will be freed from this fate of death, and share the freedom and glory of the children of God.
We know, that the whole creation groans and suffers the pangs of birth. Not creation alone, but even ourselves; although the Spirit was given to us, as a foretaste of what we are to receive, we groan in our innermost being, eagerly awaiting the day, when God will give us full rights, and rescue our bodies as well.
In hope, we already have salvation. But, if we saw what we hoped for, there would no longer be hope: how can you hope for what is already seen? So, we hope for what we do not see, and we will receive it, through patient hope.
Gospel: Lk 13:18-21
And Jesus continued, ”What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? Imagine a person who has taken a mustard seed, and planted it in his garden. The seed has grown, and become like a small tree, so that the birds of the air shelter in its branches.”
And Jesus said again, ”What is the kingdom of God like? Imagine a woman who has taken yeast, and hidden it in three measures of flour, until it is all leavened.”
The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed which was planted in the garden. Even though there are oppositions it continues to grow. The emphasis here is on the ‘growth‘ which takes place irresistibly. This parable consoles the disciples who are doing their mission to proclaim the gospel even in the midst of persecutions. Trials, sufferings and difficulties cannot hinder the growth in number of those who are willing to enter God‘s kingdom. There are even numerous people who shed their blood for the sake of it. This is a concrete manifestation that persecutions neither lead believers to despair nor discourage them from continuing their mission. Rather than surrendering, they strive all the more to make this kingdom known to all the nations.
Another consoling word of Jesus is that ”the birds of the air shelter in its branches” which signifies people of diverse origins finding refuge in God‘s kingdom. Although, Jesus‘ opening of this kingdom to all, e.g. when he accepted the outcasts in meals, resulted to opposition of his opponents; nevertheless, many felt their belongingness to the heavenly family.
How can we contribute to the growth of God‘s kingdom during our times?
All Saints’ Day
1st Reading: Rev 7:2-4, 9-14
I saw another angel, ascending from the sunrise, carrying the seal of the living God, and he cried out with a loud voice, to the four angels empowered to harm the earth and the sea, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads.“
Then, I heard the number of those marked with the seal: a hundred and forty-four thousand, from all the tribes of the people of Israel:
After this, I saw a great crowd, impossible to count, from every nation, race, people and tongue, standing before the throne, and the Lamb, clothed in white, with palm branches in their hands, and they cried out with a loud voice, “Who saves, but our God, who sits on the throne, and the Lamb?“
All the angels were around the throne, the elders and the four living creatures; they, then, bowed before the throne, with their faces to the ground, to worship God. They said, Amen. Praise, glory, wisdom, thanks, honor, power and strength to our God forever and ever. Amen!
At that moment, one of the elders spoke up, and said to me, “Who are these people clothed in white, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, it is you who know this.”
The elder replied, “They, are those who have come out of the great persecution; they have washed, and made their clothes white, in the blood of the Lamb.“
2nd Reading: 1 Jn 3:1-3
See what singular love the Father has for us: we are called children of God, and we really are. This is why the world does not know us, because it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children, and what we shall be has not, yet, been shown. Yet, when he appears in his glory, we know, that we shall be like him, for, then, we shall see him as he is. All who have such a hope, try to be pure, as he is pure.
Gospel: Mt 5:1-12a
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain. He sat down and his disciples gathered around him. Then he spoke and began to teach them:
Fortunate are those who are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Fortunate are those who mourn; they shall be comforted.
Fortunate are the gentle; they shall possess the land.
Fortunate are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied.
Fortunate are the merciful, for they shall find mercy.
Fortunate are those with pure hearts, for they shall see God.
Fortunate are those who work for peace; they shall be called children of God.
Fortunate are those who are persecuted for the cause of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Fortunate are you, when people insult you and persecute you and speak all kinds of evil against you because you are my followers. Be glad and joyful, for a great reward is kept for you in God. For that is how this people persecuted the prophets who lived before you.
Every time there is an announced canonization or beatification, I feel envious and always want to attend it. Thank God I was able to attend some. I feel envious because I know I could also be beatified or canonized. To be a saint is our calling. It is the end of life we all want to attain. The envy that I have always lead to deep self-examination, it strengthens and inspires me to go on with life especially in moments of dryness and difficulties. Reflecting on the lives of the saints, many of them, except the martyrs, did not perform extraordinary things but simply faithful to their ordinary duties and putting much love on it. They do it for the love of God and neighbor, not wanting to be praised and rewarded. However their goodness never escaped the eyes of God. They are canonized saints. I feel deep joy every time I think of them. I always feel their soft voice telling me, “you are destined to be with us.“ “ We are waiting for your coming.“ What then shall we do?
The following can help us for our reflections: The great use of life is to spend it for something that will last–(William James), “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe–(St Augustine), Happiness is not a goal, it is a by-product–(Eleanor Roosevelt)
All Souls’ Day
1st Reading: Wis 3:1-9
The souls of the just are in the hands of God and no torment shall touch them.
In the eyes of the unwise they appear to be dead. Their going is held as a disaster; it seems that they lose everything by departing from us, but they are in peace.
Though seemingly they have been punished, immortality was the soul of their hope. After slight affliction will come great blessings, for God has tried them and found them worthy to be with him; after testing them as gold in the furnace, he has accepted them as a holocaust.
At the time of his coming they will shine like sparks that run in the stubble. They will govern nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord will be their king forever.
Those who trust in him will penetrate the truth, those who are faithful will live with him in love, for his grace and mercy are for his chosen ones.
2nd Reading: Rom 6:3-9
Don’t you know, that in baptism, which unites us to Christ, we are all baptized and plunged into his death? By this baptism in his death, we were buried with Christ and, as Christ was raised from among the dead by the glory of the Father, we begin walking in a new life. If we have been joined to him by dying a death like his, so shall we be, by a resurrection like his.
We know, that our old self was crucified with Christ, so as to destroy what of us was sin, so that, we may no longer serve sin—if we are dead, we are no longer in debt to sin. But, if we have died with Christ, we believe we will also live with him. We know, that Christ, once risen from the dead, will not die again, and death has no more dominion over him.
Gospel: Mt 25:31-46
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory with all his angels, he will sit on the throne of his Glory. All the nations will be brought before him, and as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, so will he do with them, placing the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
The King will say to those on his right: ‘Come, blessed of my Father! Take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world. For I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me into your house. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you came to see me.‘
Then the righteous will ask him: ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food; thirsty and give you drink, or a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to see you?‘ The King will answer, ‘Truly, I say to you: whenever you did this to these little ones who are my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.‘
Then he will say to those on his left: ‘Go, cursed people, out of my sight into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels! For I was hungry and you did not give me anything to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink; I was a stranger and you did not welcome me into your house; I was naked and you did not clothe me; I was sick and in prison and you did not visit me.‘
They, too, will ask: ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, thirsty, naked or a stranger, sick or in prison, and did not help you?‘ The King will answer them: ‘Truly, I say to you: whatever you did not do for one of these little ones, you did not do for me.‘
And these will go into eternal punishment, but the just to eternal life.
As we remember and pray for our departed brothers and sisters today, death could be the best point to reflect on. Death is a destiny. When we came into the world, death has become natural to man. No man lives forever in this world. “There is a time to be born and a time to die“ (Eccle. 3:2). Of course, we do not have to forget that death is penalty for sin. “As sin came into the world through one man and death through sin. And so death spread to all men because all men sinned“(Rom. 5:12). Death reminds us of our limitedness. We have only one life, lived in a given time. But death is not simply an end of earthly journey, it is also a passing to another life, the life eternal promised by Jesus. The promised life has to be worked here on earth. What then shall we do to have a happy death?
An anonymous author said: “When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so that when you die, you will be smiling and everyone around you will be crying.“ This could be the measure of how we lived our life when we face death. The gospel reminds of Winston Churchill. He said, “We make a living by what we get: We make a life by what we give.“ Our gospel today confirms this, “Truly I say to you, just as you did it for one of the least of theses brothers or sisters of mine, you did it to me.“
St. Martin de Porres
1st Reading: Rom 9:1-5
I tell you, sincerely, in Christ, and my conscience assures me in the Holy Spirit, that I am not lying: I have great sadness and constant anguish for the Jews. I would even desire, that, I myself, suffer the curse of being cut off from Christ, instead of my brethren: I mean, my own people, my kin. They are Israelites, whom God adopted, and on them, rests his glory. Theirs, are the Covenants, the law, the worship and the promises of God. They are descendants of the patriarchs, and from their race, Christ was born, he, who, as God, is above all distinctions. Blessed be He forever and ever: Amen!
Gospel: Lk 14:1-6
One Sabbath Jesus had gone to eat a meal in the house of a leading Pharisee, and he was carefully watched. In front of him was a man suffering from dropsy; so Jesus asked the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?“ But no one answered. Jesus then took the man, healed him, and sent him away. And he said to them, “If your lamb or your ox falls into a well on a Sabbath day, who among you doesn‘t hurry to pull it out?“ And they could not answer.
Jesus is not unaware that healing is prohibited on Sabbath day yet He did it. The reason for doing so is manifested in His words to the teachers and Pharisees: “If your lamb falls into a well on Sabbath day, who among you doesn’t hurry to pull it?“ He could not afford seeing the man suffering. He acted spontaneously.
In Luke 3:5-6, Jesus taught that human need is more important that the laws of the Sabbath. In fact, He said that Sabbath is made in service to the people and not enslave the people. Of all God‘s visible creatures, we are the most important. We are the most loved. Our life is a sharing from God‘s life, created in His image and likeness. Jesus came for us. He died for us. All He did was for man to be happy and reach the fullness of life. Our being and our dignity are such that Jesus would even dispense the law of the Sabbath if only to save life. St. John Mary Vianney experienced such love of God and dignity of man that he said; “One soul is worth saving.“ In the words of Ninoy Aquino: “The Filipino is worth dying for.“ Let us appreciate our gift of life and its dignity. Let us be grateful to God for His care. Let us observe the “Day of the Lord,“ Sunday not simply as a law but a way to achieve the best of life as designed by God.
St. Charles Borromeo
1st Reading: Rom 11:1-2a, 11-12, 25-29
And so I ask: Has God rejected his people? Of course not! I, myself, am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. No, God has not rejected the people he knew beforehand. Don‘t you know what the Scripture says of Elijah, when he was accusing Israel before God?
Again, I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall? Of course not. Their stumbling allowed salvation to come to the pagan nations, and, this, in turn, will stir up the jealousy of Israel. If Israel‘s shortcoming made the world rich, if the pagan nations grew rich with what they lost, what will happen when Israel is restored?
I want you to understand the mysterious decree of God, lest you be too confident: a part of Israel will remain hardened, until the majority of pagans have entered. Then, the whole of Israel will be saved, as Scripture says: From Zion will come the Liberator, who will purify the descendants of Jacob from all sin. And this is the Covenant I will make with them: I will take away from them their sins.
Regarding the gospel, the Jews are opponents, but it is for your benefit. Regarding election, they are beloved, because of their ancestors; because the call of God, and his gifts, cannot be nullified.
Gospel: Lk 14:1, 7-11
One Sabbath Jesus had gone to eat a meal in the house of a leading Pharisee, and he was carefully watched.
Jesus then told a parable to the guests, for he had noticed how they tried to take the places of honor. And he said, “When you are invited to a wedding party, do not choose the best seat. It may happen that someone more important than you has been invited; and your host, who invited both of you, will come and say to you, ‘Please give this person your place.‘ What shame is yours when you take the lowest seat!
Whenever you are invited, go rather to the lowest seat, so that your host may come and say to you, ‘Friend, you must come up higher.‘ And this will be a great honor for you in the presence of all the other guests. For whoever makes himself out to be great will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.“
Jesus‘ teaching in the gospel reading today immediately reminds me on the virtue of humility, referred to as the mother of all virtues. St. Augustine speaks of humility as the first, second, third, and last step towards matured spirituality. Jesus lived this humility “though He was God, He humbled Himself and took the human flesh.“
I am joyfully reminded too of the song of Mary, the Magnificat, how God acted favorably on the lowly and put to shame the proud: “He has cast down the mighty from thrones and lifted up the lowly“ (Lk. 1:52). Truly, God is pleased with the humble.
One time I was traveling by train to Switzerland from Rome. In Milan we transferred to another train. I was already seated on the right seat number but not in the right coach. The officer told me to leave and transfer to another coach. Before everyone‘s eyes, I left, shameful and humiliated. In formal and grand occasions, upon arrival, I simply sit at a hidden and back place. As always, I am escorted and paged to occupy the seat reserved for me among the VIPS. Doing such, I received applauses and admirations. These experiences bring me to understand clearly and deeply Jesus sayings and teachings on humility in contrast to pride.