Bible Diary for September 24th – 30thBible Diary
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Is 55:6-9
Seek Yahweh while he may be found;
call to him while he is near.
Let the wicked abandon his way,
let him forsake his thoughts,
let him turn to Yahweh for he will have mercy,
for our God is generous in forgiving.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
my ways are not your ways, says Yahweh.
For as the heavens are above the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts above your thoughts.
2nd Reading: Phil 1:20c-24, 27a
I am hopeful, even certain, that I shall not be ashamed. I feel as assured now, as before, that Christ will be exalted through my person, whether I live or die.
For to me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I am to go on living, I shall be able to enjoy fruitful labor. Which shall I choose? So I feel torn between the two. I desire greatly to leave this life and to be with Christ, which will be better by far, but it is necessary for you that I remain in this life.
Try, then, to adjust your lives according to the gospel of Christ. May I see it when I come to you, and if I cannot come, may I at least hear that you stand firm in the same spirit, striving to uphold the faith of the gospel with one heart.
Gospel: Mt 20:1-16a
This story throws light on the kingdom of heaven: A landowner went out early in the morning, to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay each worker the usual daily wage, and sent them to his vineyard.
He went out again, at about nine in the morning, and, seeing others idle in the town square, he said to them, ‘You also, go to my vineyard, and I will pay you what is just.‘ So they went.
The owner went out at midday, and, again, at three in the afternoon, and he made the same offer. Again he went out, at the last working hour—the eleventh—and he saw others standing around. So he said to them, ‘Why do you stand idle the whole day?‘ They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.‘ The master said, ‘Go, and work in my vineyard.‘
When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wage, beginning with the last and ending with the first.‘ Those who had gone to work at the eleventh hour came up, and were each given a silver coin. When it was the turn of the first, they thought they would receive more. But they, too, received one silver coin. On receiving it, they began to grumble against the landowner.
They said, ‘These last, hardly worked an hour; yet, you have treated them the same as us, who have endured the heavy work of the day and the heat.‘ The owner said to one of them, ‘Friend, I have not been unjust to you. Did we not agree on one silver coin per day? So, take what is yours and go. I want to give to the last the same as I give to you. Don‘t I have the right to do as I please with what is mine? Why are you envious when I am kind?‘
So will it be: the last will be first, the first will be last.“
God‘s mercy surpasses human categories. Paul expresses his deep desire to belong to God in and through Christ. Jesus gives the parable of the workers in the vineyard. The movie Three Idiots has a revealing moment that sums up human psychology very well: when two of the three engineering students notorious for their campus gimmicks go to check their examination results, they look for their names, as expected, at the bottom of the list displayed. Not finding their names, they feel bad. But then, finding the name of their friend topping the list, they feel miserable. The voice-over then comments: “When our friends fail, we feel bad. But when they succeed, we feel worse.“ Today‘s parable is about similar dynamics of envy. Do you suffer from shades of envy?
Pray for a heart that delights in the wellbeing of the other.
Make an act of genuine appreciation and delight in the blessings received by someone in your circle of friends.
1st Reading: Ezra 1:1-6
In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, Yahweh willed to fulfill the word he had said through the prophet Jeremiah. So he moved the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, to issue the following command and send it out in writing to be read aloud everywhere in his kingdom: “Thus speaks Cyrus, king of Persia: Yahweh, the God of heavens, who has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, has ordered me to build him a temple in Jerusalem, in the land of Judah. To everyone belonging to his people, may his God be with him! Let them go up to Jerusalem with the help of their God and, there, build the house of Yahweh, the God of Israel; the God who is in Jerusalem. In every place where the rest of the people of Yahweh live, let the people of those places help them for their journey with silver, gold and all kinds of goods and livestock. Let them also give them voluntary offerings for the house of Yahweh which is in Jerusalem.“
Then they rose up—the heads of the families of Judah and Benjamin, the priests and the Levites, and all those whose spirit God had stirred up—and they decided to go and build the house of Yahweh. And all their neighbors gave them all kinds of help: gold, silver, livestock and precious objects in great quantity, besides every kind of voluntary offering.
Gospel: Lk 8:16-18
No one, after lighting a lamp, covers it with a bowl or puts it under the bed; rather, he puts it on a lamp stand, so that people coming in may see the light. In the same way, there is nothing hidden that shall not be uncovered; nothing kept secret, that shall not be known clearly. Now, pay attention and listen well, for whoever produces, will be given more; but from those who do not produce, even what they seem to have will be taken away from them.“
Jesus‘s listeners would have laughed at the imagery Jesus used: It is utterly dark in the house, but someone lights a lamp only to cover it with a bowl or place it under the bed! Of course, no one in the right frame of mind would do it. However, Jesus warns us that in our spiritual life, we do such silly things—we do not listen carefully to the Word of God which is a “lamp to our feet“ (Psalm 119:105), but cover it up, effectively blocking its life-giving energy from affecting us. Just as Mary listened to God‘s word and conceived it in her womb and brought forth, we must listen to the word and expose our whole being to it so that it produces fruit abundantly. St. James teaches us about how to listen correctly:
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.“ (James 1:22-24)
Sts. Cosmas and Damian
1st Reading: Ezra 6:7-8, 12b, 14-20
Let the governor of the Jews together with their leaders build the house of God on its former site.
This is the command I give as to what you should do to help those Jewish leaders rebuild the house of God: pay the expenses in full and without delay, with the income from taxes of the province at the other side of the River which is allotted to the king.
And may the God who makes his Name dwell there crush every rebel, king or people, who goes against this and tries to destroy the house of God in Jerusalem. I, Darius, give this command. Let it be carried out at once.“
And the leaders of the Jews continued to make progress in building, encouraged by what Haggai, the prophet, and Zechariah, the son of Iddo, had said; and they finished the work according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus and Darius. The house was finished on the third day of the month of Adar in the sixth year of the reign of Darius.
The children of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of those who had returned from exile celebrated the consecration of this house of God with rejoicing, offering on this solemnity one hundred young bulls, two hundred rams and four hundred lambs; and twelve he-goats as a sin-offering for all Israel, according to the number of the tribes of Israel.
Then they installed the priests according to their ranks, and the Levites according to their classes, for the service of the house of God in Jerusalem, as it is written in the Book of Moses.
Those who had returned from exile celebrated the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month, for the priests and the Levites had purified themselves together, and all of them were clean. So, they slaughtered the Passover lamb for all who had returned from exile, for their fellow-priests and for themselves.
Gospel: Lk 8:19-21
Then his mother and his relatives came to him; but they could not get to him because of the crowd. Someone told him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and wish to meet you.“ Then Jesus answered, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.“
A story goes thus: A parish community renovated its church and dedicated it to the Mother of God. It was a billion-dollar architectural marvel. One day, an old lady, a faithful parishioner, was praying before the statue of Mother Mary inside the church. Suddenly, Mother Mary appeared to her and said, “Please ask your pastor to build a church in my honor.“ “Where, Mother?“ the lady asked in fear and trembling. “Right here,“ the Mother said, and disappeared.
The Book of Ezra describes how the Temple of the Lord was re-built and consecrated. But such an external structure is not the primary temple of God. Paul asks rhetorically: “Don‘t you know that you yourselves are God‘s temple?“ (1 Cor 3:16). Jesus teaches the Samaritan woman: “Time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks“ (Jn 4:23). Thus, the true temple of God is a community of believers who hear the word of God and keep it. They become God‘s temple and therefore, the family of Jesus.
St. Vincent de Paul
1st Reading: Ezra 9:5-9
I remained seated and dismayed until the evening sacrifice; and then, at the time for the evening offering, I rose from my fasting, and with my clothes and mantle torn, I knelt down, spreading out my hands to Yahweh, my God.
I said, “My God! I am ashamed and confused, my God, I do not dare raise my eyes to you; for our sins have increased over our heads and our crimes reach up to the heavens.
From the days of our ancestors to this day, our guilt has been great. We, our kings and priests have been given into the hands of foreign kings because of our crimes; we have been delivered to the sword, to captivity, to plunder, and put to shame as on this day. However, for a brief moment, the mercy of Yahweh, our God, has been shown to us. He made a remnant of our people survive, and allowed the survivor to settle once again in his Holy Place. He has given us joy and life, though we are in bondage. We are no more than slaves, but in the midst of our slavery, God has not abandoned us, he has extended a merciful hand over us to support us before the kings of Persia. He has revived our life, enabled us to rebuild the house of our God, and to have walls in Jerusalem and in the other cities of Judah.
Gospel: Lk 9:1-6
Then Jesus called his Twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to drive out all evil spirits and to heal diseases. And he sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He instructed them, “Don‘t take anything for the journey, neither staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and don‘t even take a spare tunic. Whatever house you enter, remain there until you leave that place. And wherever they don‘t welcome you, leave the town and shake the dust from your feet: it will be as a testimony against them.“
So they set out, and went through the villages, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.
Jesus‘s commissioning of the disciples has a disarming simplicity. They are to have no elaborate preparations, no provisions to take with them. Trust Providence and the generosity of the people they visit. Proclaim the Kingdom. Heal the sick. Drive out demons. Whatever house they walk in, they must stay there. If they are received, well and good. If not, they must dust themselves off and move on.
Is it possible to practice similar trust in our days? And why not? We too are commissioned by Jesus Christ who is the same Lord yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8). He gives us the same faculties, the same powers, and the same instructions. The problem is with us—we think we have a better understanding of the demands and dangers of the present world and refuse to trust God‘s Providence. How else would we explain our worries and anxieties in various ministries at the service of the Lord? We need to strengthen our trust in the one who called us. He is faithful and he will do it (1 Thess. 5:24).
St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions
1st Reading: Hg 1:1-8
In the second year of the reign of Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, a word of Yahweh was directed to the prophet Haggai, for the benefit of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest.
“So says Yahweh of hosts: This people claim that the time to rebuild the house of Yahweh has not yet come. Well now, hear what I have to say through the prophet Haggai: Is this the time for you to live in your well-built houses while this house is a heap of ruins? Think about your ways: you have sown much but harvested little; you eat and drink, but are not satisfied; you clothe yourselves, but still feel cold; and the laborer puts the money he earned in a tattered purse.
Now think about what you must do: go to the mountain and look for wood to rebuild the house. This will make me happy; and I will feel deeply honored, says Yahweh.
Gospel: Lk 9:7-9
King Herod heard of all this, and did not know what to think, for people said, “This is John, raised from the dead.“ Others believed that Elijah, or one of the ancient prophets, had come back to life. As for Herod, he said, “I had John beheaded. Who is this man, about whom I hear such wonders?“ And he was anxious to see him.
When people claimed that the time for rebuilding God‘s House had not come, God thundered through the mouth of Prophet Haggai: “Is this the time for you to live in your well-built houses while this House is a heap of ruins? Build my House!“ What good are our happy and cozy lives if God‘s House is in ruins? What good is a community if God is not its center? What good are all our scientific discoveries and technological advancements if they do not lead us closer to God? Indeed, what good is a road if it does not lead to a church?
Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels
1st Reading: Dn 7:9-10, 13-14
I looked and saw the following: Some thrones were set in place and One of Great Age took his seat. His robe was white, as snow, his hair, white as washed wool. His throne was flames of fire with wheels of blazing fire. A river of fire sprang forth and flowed before him. Thousands upon thousands served him and a countless multitude stood before him.
I continued watching the nocturnal vision:
One like a son of man came on the clouds of heaven. He faced the One of Great Age and was brought into his presence.
Dominion, honor and kingship were given him, and all the peoples and nations of every language served him. His dominion is eternal and shall never pass away; his kingdom will never be destroyed.
Gospel: Jn 1:47-51
When Jesus saw Nathanael coming, he said of him, “Here comes an Israelite, a true one; there is nothing false in him.“ Nathanael asked him, “How do you know me?“ And Jesus said to him, “Before Philip called you, you were under the fig tree, and I saw you.“
Nathanael answered, “Master, you are the Son of God! You are the king of Israel!“ But Jesus replied, “You believe because I said, ‘I saw you under the fig tree.‘ But you will see greater things than that.
“Truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.“
What was Nathanael (Bartholomew) doing under the fig tree that was so revealing of his authenticity? We would never know for sure. Yet, being under the fig tree seems to refer to being in communion with God and walking in God‘s ways (see Mic 4:4; Zech 3:10). Whatever Nathanael did under the fig tree, Jesus‘s mentioning the event evoked an immediate pronouncement of faith from him who had been skeptical until then about anything good coming from Nazareth.
One thing we know from this encounter: God sees us. Even before Philip met Nathanael and spoke about Christ, Jesus had seen him. God sees us whether we are under the fig tree or in the market place. He not only sees where we are and what we do, but also sees into the deepest movements of our hearts. Nathanael received high praise from Christ. When I meet Christ at my resurrection, what would he have to say about me?
1st Reading: Zec 2:5-9, 14-15a
Raising my eyes again, I saw a man with a measuring line in his hand. I asked, “Where are you going?“ He answered, “I‘m going to measure Jerusalem, to find its width and its length.“ As the angel who spoke to me came forward, another angel met him and said, “Run and tell this to that young man: ‘Jerusalem will remain unwalled because of its multitude of people and livestock.‘ For this is the word of Yahweh: I, myself, will be around her like a wall of fire, and also within her, in glory.“
“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for I am about to come, I shall dwell among you,“ says Yahweh.
“On that day, many nations will join Yahweh and be my people, but my dwelling is among you.“
Gospel: Lk 9:43b-45
While all were amazed at everything Jesus did, he said to his disciples, “Listen, and remember what I tell you now: The Son of Man will be betrayed into hands of men.“ But the disciples didn‘t understand this saying; something prevented them from grasping what he meant, and they were afraid to ask him about it.
The disciples did not understand what Jesus said or meant. But they were afraid to ask him about it.
That was disappointing. If there was someone who could help them understand, it was Jesus himself. Why were they afraid to ask him what he meant? Had they asked him, they would have been better informed and better prepared for his suffering. They would not have immediately engaged in silly behavior like they did. (Luke goes on to say that an argument broke out among them as to who was the greatest.)
Do you have doubts when you stand before God in prayer? Do you find it difficult to understand what God is communicating to you? If you do, ask Him! To whom else shall we go? For God has the words of eternal life (Jn 6:68). Hasn‘t Jesus said that if we asked, the Father would gladly give us the Holy Spirit (Lk 11:13) who makes everything intelligible to us? (Jn 16:13-15). In our confusions and concerns, let us confidently walk up to God and ask Him.