Bible Diary for October 30th – November 5th

Bible Diary

October 30

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

1st Reading: Wis 11:22–12:2
Before the LORD the whole universe is as a grain from a balance
or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth.
But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things;
and you overlook people’s sins that they may repent.
For you love all things that are
and loathe nothing that you have made;
for what you hated, you would not have fashioned.
And how could a thing remain, unless you willed it;
or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you?
But you spare all things, because they are yours,
O LORD and lover of souls,
for your imperishable spirit is in all things!
Therefore you rebuke offenders little by little,
warn them and remind them of the sins they are committing,
that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in you, O LORD!

2nd Reading: 2 Thes 1:11–2:2
Brothers and sisters:
We always pray for you,
that our God may make you worthy of his calling
and powerfully bring to fulfillment every good purpose
and every effort of faith,
that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you,
and you in him,
in accord with the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ.

We ask you, brothers and sisters,
with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
and our assembling with him,
not to be shaken out of your minds suddenly, or to be alarmed
either by a “spirit,” or by an oral statement,
or by a letter allegedly from us
to the effect that the day of the Lord is at hand.

Gospel: Lk 19:1-10
At that time, Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town.
Now a man there named Zacchaeus,
who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man,
was seeking to see who Jesus was;
but he could not see him because of the crowd,
for he was short in stature.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus,
who was about to pass that way.
When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said,
“Zacchaeus, come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house.”
And he came down quickly and received him with joy.
When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying,
“He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.”
But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord,
“Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor,
and if I have extorted anything from anyone
I shall repay it four times over.”
And Jesus said to him,
“Today salvation has come to this house
because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.
For the Son of Man has come to seek
and to save what was lost.”

We will probably never know in this life what lay behind the sudden and total conversion of Zaccheus as we have it described in today’s gospel reading. So many questions come to mind when we relive this story: why did Zaccheus so much want to see Jesus? Why was he so deeply moved by the attitude of Jesus? Why had he taken up his hated profession in the first place? Many more such questions come to mind when we think of him. We might even speculate a bit about his height. Being so short–and, no doubt, being looked down upon by so many people–had he one day resolved that he would command respect at least because of wealth? Had he decided to become a tax collector as a short-cut to fulfill this ambition? The whole city of Jericho despised him, but the self-invitation of Jesus had thrown him completely off balance. Here, finally was a man who respected him, and a man who was hailed as a great prophet… We could ask ourselves how we treat short people or people who do not exactly fit our criteria of respectability. Do we react like Jesus and see them as true sons and daughters of Abraham?

October 31

1st Reading: Phil 2:1-4
Brothers and sisters:
If there is any encouragement in Christ,
any solace in love,
any participation in the Spirit,
any compassion and mercy,
complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love,
united in heart, thinking one thing.
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory;
rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,
each looking out not for his own interests,
but also everyone for those of others.

Gospel: Lk 14:12-14
On a sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees.
He said to the host who invited him,
“When you hold a lunch or a dinner,
do not invite your friends or your brothers or sisters
or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors,
in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.
Rather, when you hold a banquet,
invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;
blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.
For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

In today’s first reading the apostle Paul gives a piece of advice which might appear completely idealistic and impossible to implement in real life: “Consider the others as more important than yourselves.” But is Paul’s advice so unrealistic? Let us consider first this undeniable fact: every person I meet has a particular talent, knowledge, ability, skill that I do not have. For example, I may be a first-class linguist or mathematician or jurist or teacher—yet I do not know how to change a flat tire or how to repair a cellphone, how to bake a pie or how to sew a dress, how to drive a twelve-wheeler or how to fly a plane. The list of the things that other people can do better than I can is practically endless. And then there is the spiritual state of other people. If I think seriously about my past sins in comparison with all the graces that I have received, I cannot evaluate my status before God. So how on earth will I have the gall to think that I am better than the next person—even the worst criminal? No, Paul is right. Let us play it safe and look up to everyone we meet.

November 1

All Saints’ Day

1st Reading: Rev 7:2-4, 9-14*
I, John, saw another angel come up from the East,
holding the seal of the living God.
He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels
who were given power to damage the land and the sea,
“Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees
until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”
I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal,
one hundred and forty-four thousand marked
from every tribe of the children of Israel.

After this I had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count,
from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,
wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.
They cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne,
and from the Lamb.”

All the angels stood around the throne
and around the elders and the four living creatures.
They prostrated themselves before the throne,
worshiped God, and exclaimed:

“Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving,
honor, power, and might
be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me,
“Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?”
I said to him, “My lord, you are the one who knows.”
He said to me,
“These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress;
they have washed their robes
and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.”

2nd Reading: 1 Jn 3:1-3
See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us
is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.
Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure,
as he is pure.

Gospel: Mt 5:1-12a
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.”

Today we are celebrating all the saints in Heaven, the vast number of whom have never been canonized and never will be. Since we can celebrate the canonized ones on their respective feast days, let us concentrate on the rest. This group comprises a lot of simple people we knew (from our 2nd grade teacher to the old man who repaired our shoes when we were kids), people who were never conspicuous in any way, but who spent their lives loving and serving people. It also comprises our ancestors, to whom we owe the privilege of having been born. It comprises also of Christians from far-off lands and from every century of the past from a 5th century Greek fisherman to a 17th-century Bolivian laundry woman. However, these holy Christians form but a small minority among the Elect. Yes, believe it or not, the great majority of saints professed Hinduism or Buddhism or Confucianism or animism during their lifetime, but they loved their neighbor selflessly, and this is all that God required of them. Lastly, there is a fair number of sincere agnostics and atheists among God’s saints—people who loved others with all their hearts—and who are still flabbergasted to find out that there is a God and a Heaven after all…

November 2

All Souls’ Day

1st Reading: Wis 3:1-9
The souls of the just are in the hand of God,
and no torment shall touch them.
They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;
and their passing away was thought an affliction
and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace.
For if before men, indeed, they be punished,
yet is their hope full of immortality;
chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
because God tried them
and found them worthy of himself.
As gold in the furnace, he proved them,
and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.
In the time of their visitation they shall shine,
and shall dart about as sparks through stubble;
they shall judge nations and rule over peoples,
and the LORD shall be their King forever.
Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love:
because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and his care is with his elect.

2nd Reading: Rom 6:3-9
Brothers and sisters:
Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death?
We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death,
so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
we too might live in newness of life.

For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his,
we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.
We know that our old self was crucified with him,
so that our sinful body might be done away with,
that we might no longer be in slavery to sin.
For a dead person has been absolved from sin.
If, then, we have died with Christ,
we believe that we shall also live with him.
We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more;
death no longer has power over him.

Gospel: Mt 25:31-46
Jesus said to the crowds:
“Everything that the Father gives me will come to me,
and I will not reject anyone who comes to me,
because I came down from heaven not to do my own will
but the will of the one who sent me.
And this is the will of the one who sent me,
that I should not lose anything of what he gave me,
but that I should raise it on the last day.
For this is the will of my Father,
that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him
may have eternal life,
and I shall raise him on the last day.”

Today we are praying in a special way for all those human beings whose eternal reunion with God is already assured, but who are not quite ready yet for that searing proximity with Infinite Love. Since they died with residues of selfishness in their souls, they would not feel fully attuned to God while in that state of theirs. Hence the need to purify those remnants of self centered love. We call that temporary stage of purification the Purgatory. But we do not know how exactly such a purification is done in them. All we know is that, like any giving up of our selfishness, that purification of theirs must be painful. Consequently, today we implore God to alleviate or shorten that purification. This is the meaning of this special day of prayers for the departed souls. Our Protestant brethren do not believe in the existence of Purgatory. If they challenge you on this most ancient belief of ours, you could quote the saying of Jesus about the sin against the Holy Spirit which will not be forgiven “either in this age or in the age to come” (Mt 12:32). This seems to imply that some sins are forgiven in the next life, doesn’t it?

November 3

St. Martin de Porres

1st Reading: Phil 3:3-8a
Brothers and sisters:
We are the circumcision,
we who worship through the Spirit of God,
who boast in Christ Jesus and do not put our confidence in flesh,
although I myself have grounds for confidence even in the flesh.

If anyone else thinks he can be confident in flesh, all the more can I.
Circumcised on the eighth day,
of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin,
a Hebrew of Hebrew parentage,
in observance of the law a Pharisee,
in zeal I persecuted the Church,
in righteousness based on the law I was blameless.

But whatever gains I had,
these I have come to consider a loss because of Christ.
More than that, I even consider everything as a loss
because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

Gospel: Lk 15:1-10
The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So Jesus addressed this parable to them.
“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert
and go after the lost one until he finds it?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance.

“Or what woman having ten coins and losing one
would not light a lamp and sweep the house,
searching carefully until she finds it?
And when she does find it,
she calls together her friends and neighbors
and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’
In just the same way, I tell you,
there will be rejoicing among the angels of God
over one sinner who repents.”

We usually take a lot of things for granted. Take your cellphone, for example. You use it at least a dozen times a day for calls or texts, and you count on it to do exactly what it is expected to do. But suppose you lose your cell phone or somebody steals it from you. Then you realize all of a sudden how dependent on it you have become: no more quick contacts with relatives and friends, except by borrowing somebody else’s phone, and that creates quite an inconvenience! Hence your joy if, by sheer chance, you and your cellphone. Now you appreciate how enormously useful it is to you. But you had to lose it first, in order to experience this new appreciation.The two parables contained in today’s gospel reading are based on this common human experience of being overjoyed upon landing a valued possession. Joy is the common theme connecting these two parables. Such, Jesus tells us, is God’s joy upon recovering his lost children. We, too, should rejoice to see sinners returning to God. That was the problem of the scribes and the Pharisees: they could not imagine that God could rejoice upon recovering lost sinners.

November 4

St. Charles Borromeo

1st Reading: Phil 3:17–4:1
Join with others in being imitators of me, brothers and sisters,
and observe those who thus conduct themselves
according to the model you have in us.
For many, as I have often told you
and now tell you even in tears,
conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ.
Their end is destruction.
Their God is their stomach;
their glory is in their “shame.”
Their minds are occupied with earthly things.
But our citizenship is in heaven,
and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
He will change our lowly body
to conform with his glorified Body
by the power that enables him also
to bring all things into subjection to himself.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters,
whom I love and long for, my joy and crown,
in this way stand firm in the Lord, beloved.

Gospel: Lk 16:1-8
Jesus said to his disciples, “A rich man had a steward
who was reported to him for squandering his property.
He summoned him and said,
‘What is this I hear about you?
Prepare a full account of your stewardship,
because you can no longer be my steward.’
The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do,
now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me?
I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg.
I know what I shall do so that,
when I am removed from the stewardship,
they may welcome me into their homes.’
He called in his master’s debtors one by one.
To the first he said, ‘How much do you owe my master?’
He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’
He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note.
Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’
Then to another he said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’
He replied, ‘One hundred measures of wheat.’
He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note;
write one for eighty.’
And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently.
For the children of this world
are more prudent in dealing with their own generation
than the children of light.”

Before the apostle Paul’s time, in 42 B.C. to be exact, the city of Philippi became a Roman colonia or colony (Acts 16:12) having a large population of Roman veterans. It was subject to Roman law. And so, although residing at Philippi, the Philippians’ citizenship was in Rome, their true city of origin.

This situation forms the back- ground of Paul’s statement: “Our citizenship is in heaven.” By this statement, Paul is making a parallel between the Philippians’ relationship to heaven as Christians, and their relationship with Rome as Roman citizens living in a Roman colony. He says that Christians constitute a colony of heaven, just as Philippi was a colony of Rome. In other words, Paul is saying that heaven is the Christians’ real home, their real patria or fatherland, because their Father, God, resides there in glory.
For many Christians it might come as a surprise to be told that they do not belong to earth, that here they are strangers or tourists or passers-by. All their energies are concentrated on making a lot of money and having fun. Tell them that this earth is not their real home, and they will laugh at you. Boy, are they in for a surprise when they reach heaven!

November 5

1st Reading: Phil 4:10-19 
Brothers and sisters:
I rejoice greatly in the Lord
that now at last you revived your concern for me.
You were, of course, concerned about me but lacked an opportunity.
Not that I say this because of need,
for I have learned, in whatever situation I find myself,
to be self-sufficient.
I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances;
I know also how to live with abundance.
In every circumstance and in all things
I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry,
of living in abundance and of being in need.
I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.
Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress.

You Philippians indeed know that at the beginning of the Gospel,
when I left Macedonia,
not a single church shared with me
in an account of giving and receiving, except you alone.
For even when I was at Thessalonica
you sent me something for my needs,
not only once but more than once.
It is not that I am eager for the gift;
rather, I am eager for the profit that accrues to your account.
I have received full payment and I abound.
I am very well supplied because of what I received from you
through Epaphroditus,
“a fragrant aroma,” an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.
My God will fully supply whatever you need,
in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Gospel: Lk 16:9-15 
Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth,
so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
The person who is trustworthy in very small matters
is also trustworthy in great ones;
and the person who is dishonest in very small matters
is also dishonest in great ones.
If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth,
who will trust you with true wealth?
If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another,
who will give you what is yours?
No servant can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon.”

The Pharisees, who loved money,
heard all these things and sneered at him.
And he said to them,
“You justify yourselves in the sight of others,
but God knows your hearts;
for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.”

When we feel sick and visit our doctor, the first thing the doctor does is to check our vital signs: temperature, pulse, blood pressure. These will tell him if there is something wrong with us or not. In the Christian life, one of the key indicators of our spiritual condition before God is our relationship to money: do we use money or do we serve money? This is the question to ask ourselves, as we can judge by combining the teaching contained in today’s two readings. Paul is a magnificent example of someone who uses money and is not serving it. As he says: “I have learned to manage with what I have. I know what it is to be in want and what it is to have plenty. I am trained for both.”  On the other hand, Jesus in today’s gospel tells us that we cannot hold a neutral position towards money: either we serve it as our practical god (a “god” is anything to which we give our hearts) or we only use it and serve the true God. But we have to choose, Jesus tells us: “You cannot give your- self both to God and money.” Whom do I serve: God or money?