Bible Diary for January 7th – 13thBible Diary
The Epiphany of the Lord
1st Reading: Is 60:1-6
Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come,
the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth,
and thick clouds cover the peoples;
but upon you the LORD shines,
and over you appears his glory.
Nations shall walk by your light,
and kings by your shining radiance.
Raise your eyes and look about;
they all gather and come to you:
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.
Then you shall be radiant at what you see,
your heart shall throb and overflow,
for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you,
the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.
Caravans of camels shall fill you,
dromedaries from Midian and Ephah;
all from Sheba shall come
bearing gold and frankincense,
and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.
2nd Reading: Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6
Brothers and sisters:
You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace
that was given to me for your benefit,
namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation.
It was not made known to people in other generations
as it has now been revealed
to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:
that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body,
and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Gospel: Mt 2:1-12
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.
Isaiah prophesies about the dawn of the Light of the nations. Paul speaks of the great revelation of the Mystery that offers redemption to all, Jews and Gentiles alike. Matthew narrates the visit of the Magi, guided by the Star, to the babe of Bethlehem, the Light and Desire of the nations. Reflect: Why did the Star in the East lead the Magi via Herod‘s Palace? Couldn‘t have the Star guided them straight all the way to Bethlehem? Perhaps it was part of God‘s grand design that the way of the Magi should include a stopover at Herod‘s, announcing the Good News to his household as well. Like the sower who lets the seed fall on rocks and thorny bushes…. You are beginning a year-long journey today. If your journey does not go like a straight arrow, but involves detours, do not panic – God has a reason to take you through such terrain. Just do not lose sight of the Star. And do not forget to sow the seed of God‘s Good News whichever terrain the Star takes you through.
Lord, give me the grace to keep my eyes fixed on your Star throughout this year and walk the path it leads me through.
Bless ahead: Say a prayer of blessing for all the people you would be meeting this year.
The Baptism of the Lord
1st Reading: Is 55:1-11
Thus says the LORD:
All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, receive grain and eat;
come, without paying and without cost,
drink wine and milk!
Why spend your money for what is not bread,
your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully,
listen, that you may have life.
I will renew with you the everlasting covenant,
the benefits assured to David.
As I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander of nations,
so shall you summon a nation you knew not,
and nations that knew you not shall run to you,
because of the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, who has glorified you.
Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call him while he is near.
Let the scoundrel forsake his way,
and the wicked man his thoughts;
let him turn to the LORD for mercy;
to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
As high as the heavens are above the earth
so high are my ways above your ways
and my thoughts above your thoughts.
For just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
and do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
so shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
my word shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.
Gospel: Mk 1:7-11
This is what John the Baptist proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open
and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens,
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
There are many incidents in the Gospel when Jesus illustrates that his thoughts and his ways are not those of his disciples or of the world at large. He taught the mothers of the sons of Zebedee the futility of aspiring for high positions near the seat of power. He chided his apostles for sending children away “for such is the kingdom of heaven“. He called Peter, “satan“ for dissuading him from undergoing his suffering and death. In the washing of the feet, he demonstrated the main function of power which is service! If we are honest with ourselves we have to admit that we tend to think as the world thinks. So we sympathize with the elder son rather than with the Prodigal Son. We attend to agree with Martha in her complaint. We find it difficult to forgive and almost impossible to love our enemies. Truly becoming a true Christian is a gradual and sometimes painful process of transformation of our perceptions, of our judgments, of our values and attitudes.
1st Reading: 1 S 1:9-20
Hannah rose after a meal at Shiloh,
and presented herself before the LORD;
at the time, Eli the priest was sitting on a chair
near the doorpost of the LORD’s temple.
In her bitterness she prayed to the LORD, weeping copiously,
and she made a vow, promising: “O LORD of hosts,
if you look with pity on the misery of your handmaid,
if you remember me and do not forget me,
if you give your handmaid a male child,
I will give him to the LORD for as long as he lives;
neither wine nor liquor shall he drink,
and no razor shall ever touch his head.”
As she remained long at prayer before the LORD,
Eli watched her mouth, for Hannah was praying silently;
though her lips were moving, her voice could not be heard.
Eli, thinking her drunk, said to her,
“How long will you make a drunken show of yourself?
Sober up from your wine!”
“It isn’t that, my lord,” Hannah answered.
“I am an unhappy woman.
I have had neither wine nor liquor;
I was only pouring out my troubles to the LORD.
Do not think your handmaid a ne’er-do-well;
my prayer has been prompted by my deep sorrow and misery.”
Eli said, “Go in peace,
and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”
She replied, “Think kindly of your maidservant,” and left.
She went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband,
and no longer appeared downcast.
Early the next morning they worshiped before the LORD,
and then returned to their home in Ramah.
When Elkanah had relations with his wife Hannah,
the LORD remembered her.
She conceived, and at the end of her term bore a son
whom she called Samuel, since she had asked the LORD for him.
Gospel: Mk 1:21-28
Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers,
and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught.
The people were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are–the Holy One of God!”
Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!”
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
All were amazed and asked one another,
“What is this?
A new teaching with authority.
He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”
His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.
The disciples and the other people who listened to him could not but be astonished how a carpenter‘ s son could speak with such authority and Mark even makes a jibe at the “teachers of the law“ who did not seem to speak with authority. What makes a person speak with authority is if he is speaking the truth and he knows what he is talking about. There are many preachers in our time who also do not speak with authority because they speak in platitudes or, as somebody put it, “platitudinous preponderances.“They spout motherhood statements that you cannot argue with but do not have relevance to those who are listening. In fact even Pope Francis speaks about homilies that “torture“ the congregation because the priest has not prepared his sermon and therefore goes off into outer space and cannot make any landing but makes several take offs when you think he is about to end. How different it is when someone speaks from the heart, from one‘s own experience, and touches the heart of the listeners. Then one can go home from Sunday Mass inspired and encouraged to have compassion and love towards others.
1st Reading: 1 S 1:9-20
During the time young Samuel was minister to the LORD under Eli,
a revelation of the LORD was uncommon and vision infrequent.
One day Eli was asleep in his usual place.
His eyes had lately grown so weak that he could not see.
The lamp of God was not yet extinguished,
and Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD
where the ark of God was.
The LORD called to Samuel, who answered, “Here I am.”
Samuel ran to Eli and said, “Here I am. You called me.”
“I did not call you,” Eli said. “Go back to sleep.”
So he went back to sleep.
Again the LORD called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli.
“Here I am,” he said. “You called me.”
But Eli answered, “I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep.”
At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD,
because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet.
The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time.
Getting up and going to Eli, he said, “Here I am.
You called me.”
Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth.
So Eli said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply,
‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’”
When Samuel went to sleep in his place,
the LORD came and revealed his presence,
calling out as before, “Samuel, Samuel!”
Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him,
not permitting any word of his to be without effect.
Thus all Israel from Dan to Beersheba
came to know that Samuel was an accredited prophet of the LORD.
Gospel: Mk 1:29-39
On leaving the synagogue
Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.
Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever.
They immediately told him about her.
He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.
Then the fever left her and she waited on them.
When it was evening, after sunset,
they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.
The whole town was gathered at the door.
He cured many who were sick with various diseases,
and he drove out many demons,
not permitting them to speak because they knew him.
Rising very early before dawn,
he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.
Simon and those who were with him pursued him
and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.”
He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages
that I may preach there also.
For this purpose have I come.”
So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons
throughout the whole of Galilee.
HERE I AM LORD God has an infinite number of ways of calling a person. In our times, no longer would one expect God to call him or her by name as in the case of Samuel. When one interviews people in religious life how they got into the convent, each one has a story to tell. Some would say because they saw a promo leaflet on the Church bulletin board an invite to a Search In. Others would say, I have been wanting to enter the convent since childhood. One woman said, she met one of our Sisters at a bus station and they started to talk and were even seatmates on the bus and so had a longer sharing. They gave each other their calling cards. A week later the Sister called up to say hello and the friendship continued. Now that woman is one of our Sisters, a treasurer in one of our big schools. I always react whenever people ask, ‘Were you broken hearted that is why you entered the convent?“I answer in jest: “I know I broke hearts, but I doubt if my heart was ever broken.“ But seriously, why not? Why can a broken heart not be a sign that one is destined for some other way than marriage? So when people ask me: Why did you enter? I answer seriously “Don‘t ask me why I entered. Ask me why I stayed.“ That is more important. It is the day-to-day finding meaning in one‘s life a day-to-day answer to God‘s call with: HERE I AM, LORD. I COME TO DO YOUR WILL.
1st Reading: 1 S 4:1-11
The Philistines gathered for an attack on Israel.
Israel went out to engage them in battle and camped at Ebenezer,
while the Philistines camped at Aphek.
The Philistines then drew up in battle formation against Israel.
After a fierce struggle Israel was defeated by the Philistines,
who slew about four thousand men on the battlefield.
When the troops retired to the camp, the elders of Israel said,
“Why has the LORD permitted us to be defeated today
by the Philistines?
Let us fetch the ark of the LORD from Shiloh
that it may go into battle among us
and save us from the grasp of our enemies.”
So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there
the ark of the LORD of hosts, who is enthroned upon the cherubim.
The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were with the ark of God.
When the ark of the LORD arrived in the camp,
all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth resounded.
The Philistines, hearing the noise of shouting, asked,
“What can this loud shouting in the camp of the Hebrews mean?”
On learning that the ark of the LORD had come into the camp,
the Philistines were frightened.
They said, “Gods have come to their camp.”
They said also, “Woe to us! This has never happened before. Woe to us!
Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods?
These are the gods that struck the Egyptians
with various plagues and with pestilence.
Take courage and be manly, Philistines;
otherwise you will become slaves to the Hebrews,
as they were your slaves.
So fight manfully!”
The Philistines fought and Israel was defeated;
every man fled to his own tent.
It was a disastrous defeat,
in which Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers.
The ark of God was captured,
and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were among the dead.
Gospel: Mk 1:40-45
A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched the leper, and said to him,
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them.”
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.
Pope Francis said in a homily that God is not tired of forgiving, it is human beings who have stopped asking for forgiveness. The cure of the leper in the Gospel, although it was a real event, can also be a symbol of the curing of spiritual disease. We all are sinners and are in need of forgiveness. There are some people who sincerely want to overcome some character defects like addiction, etc., but seem to be helpless in overcoming their spiritual sickness. Even St. Paul said that he was begging God to relieve him of a “thorn in the flesh“but he was made to suffer it for sometime so that God‘s power can be shown in his weakness. But it is a great truth that God wants to cure us as he did the leper. We just have to ask, to pray, to request. Of course if we need human professional help such as a guidance counselor or psychotherapist, we should seek their help. I have a friend who keeps hurting people – in her family, in her work place, in her social circle. And she told me she is aware that she is hurting them but she does not seem to know how to control herself. So I advised her to go for psychological counseling and it seems to be doing her good. But in the last analysis, the permanent and deep healing has to come from God. And let us be assured: HE WANTS TO HEAL US!
1st Reading: 1 S 8:4 – 7, 10 – 22a
All the elders of Israel came in a body to Samuel at Ramah
and said to him, “Now that you are old,
and your sons do not follow your example,
appoint a king over us, as other nations have, to judge us.”
Samuel was displeased when they asked for a king to judge them.
He prayed to the LORD, however, who said in answer:
“Grant the people’s every request.
It is not you they reject, they are rejecting me as their king.”
Samuel delivered the message of the LORD in full
to those who were asking him for a king.
He told them:
“The rights of the king who will rule you will be as follows:
He will take your sons and assign them to his chariots and horses,
and they will run before his chariot.
He will also appoint from among them his commanders of groups
of a thousand and of a hundred soldiers.
He will set them to do his plowing and his harvesting,
and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots.
He will use your daughters as ointment makers, as cooks, and as bakers.
He will take the best of your fields, vineyards, and olive groves,
and give them to his officials.
He will tithe your crops and your vineyards,
and give the revenue to his eunuchs and his slaves.
He will take your male and female servants,
as well as your best oxen and your asses,
and use them to do his work.
He will tithe your flocks and you yourselves will become his slaves.
When this takes place,
you will complain against the king whom you have chosen,
but on that day the LORD will not answer you.”
The people, however, refused to listen to Samuel’s warning and said,
“Not so! There must be a king over us.
We too must be like other nations,
with a king to rule us and to lead us in warfare
and fight our battles.”
When Samuel had listened to all the people had to say,
he repeated it to the LORD, who then said to him,
“Grant their request and appoint a king to rule them.”
Gospel: Mk 2:1-12
When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days,
it became known that he was at home.
Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them,
not even around the door,
and he preached the word to them.
They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.
Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd,
they opened up the roof above him.
After they had broken through,
they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him,
“Child, your sins are forgiven.”
Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves,
“Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming.
Who but God alone can forgive sins?”
Jesus immediately knew in his mind what
they were thinking to themselves,
so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say to the paralytic,
‘Your sins are forgiven,’
or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’?
But that you may know
that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth”
–he said to the paralytic,
“I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.”
He rose, picked up his mat at once,
and went away in the sight of everyone.
They were all astounded
and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”
The story of Samuel in the 1st reading reminds me of the saying: Be careful what you ask for, you might get it. We often think that what we ask for is always good for us. But experience tells us it may not be so. I know of a religious who wanted to be principal of a school in a province in the South. She prayed and prayed for it and even actually volunteered for that position. It turned out during her term that her autocratic ways did not sit well with the school staff nor with the parents. They actually rallied against her and sent a formal letter to the provincial to have her transferred. In a similar but reverse manner, sometimes we are assigned something that we felt negatively about and turned out to be positive. When I was a very young sister, I was enjoying my Manila assignment teaching in High School. Then I got a transfer card assigning me to the province. My first reaction was: Oh my goodness, I am being sent to the boondocks! Being a religious, of course I obeyed. Looking back it was where I started to bloom. I learned so many things and had so many positive experiences with the students, my community and with the parents. I look upon it as one of the best things that happened in my life. God really looks after us and has plans that are better for us than our highest dreams for ourselves.
1st Reading: 1 S 9:1-4, 17-19; 10:1
There was a stalwart man from Benjamin named Kish,
who was the son of Abiel, son of Zeror,
son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, a Benjaminite.
He had a son named Saul, who was a handsome young man.
There was no other child of Israel more handsome than Saul;
he stood head and shoulders above the people.
Now the asses of Saul’s father, Kish, had wandered off.
Kish said to his son Saul, “Take one of the servants with you
and go out and hunt for the asses.”
Accordingly they went through the hill country of Ephraim,
and through the land of Shalishah.
Not finding them there,
they continued through the land of Shaalim without success.
They also went through the land of Benjamin,
but they failed to find the animals.
When Samuel caught sight of Saul, the LORD assured him,
“This is the man of whom I told you; he is to govern my people.”
Saul met Samuel in the gateway and said,
“Please tell me where the seer lives.”
Samuel answered Saul: “I am the seer.
Go up ahead of me to the high place and eat with me today.
In the morning, before dismissing you,
I will tell you whatever you wish.”
Then, from a flask he had with him, Samuel poured oil on Saul’s head;
he also kissed him, saying:
“The LORD anoints you commander over his heritage.
You are to govern the LORD’s people Israel,
and to save them from the grasp of their enemies roundabout.
“This will be the sign for you
that the LORD has anointed you commander over his heritage.”
This is such a consoling statement of Jesus. It shows God‘s infinite compassion on the weak. Sometimes holiness is identified with perfection — as if we can, by our own strength attain sanctity. This view of holiness also encourages perfectionism which does not lead to holiness but to self-righteousness. Have you ever lived with perfectionist self-righteous people? My goodness, they correct every one as if they were a universal novice mistress. They are also very judgmental and condemnatory. It is as if they have the monopoly of the truth. When I was Prioress, I used to go on visitation and one day while on such a visit, an elderly Sister came to me and said, “Mother, I think my community does not like me.“ “Why do you say that?“I asked. “ Because just now when I went to the refectory, they all went out. “Why, what did you do?“ She said “ Well when I came in they were all talking so I told them: Ssssshh!“ “Well no wonder, they left the room“. I said. She said self-righteously, “But am I not right? We are not supposed to be talking in the refectory. It is a place of silence.!“ I said: “Yes, Sister, you are right. In fact you are almost always right. And that is what is wrong with you!“ God of Compassion, help us also to be compassionate to our neighbors.