Bible Diary November for 25th – December 1stBible Diary
Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus, Christ the King
St. Catherine of Alexandria
1st Reading: Dn 7:13-14:
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.
2nd Reading: Rev 1:5-8:
And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us, and has washed away our sins with his own blood, making us a kingdom, and priests for God, his Father, to him, be the glory and power, for ever and ever. Amen. See, he comes with the clouds, and everyone will see him, even those who pierced him; on his account, all the nations of the earth will beat their breast. Yes. It will be so. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,“ says the Lord God, “the one who is, and who was, and who is to come: the Master of the universe.“
Gospel: Jn 18:33b-37:
Pilate then entered the court again, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?“ Jesus replied, “Are you saying this on your own initiative; or have others told you about me?“ Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?“ Jesus answered, “My kingship does not come from this world. If I were a king, like those of this world, my servants would have fought to save me from being handed over to the Jews. But my kingship is not of this world.“ Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?“ And Jesus answered, “Just as you say, I am a king. For this I was born and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is on the side of truth hears my voice.“
If we can truly believe in the Kingship of Christ, that his Kingdom shall never end or be overcome, nothing shall prevent us from declaring our allegiance to him and work for his Kingdom, even when it feels like darkness is filling up all around us and the world seems to have cast away the Gospel. At the end of it all, Christ and his Gospel triumphs. Our task is to put our head down and work for our King, no matter what. Lord, may your Kingdom come!
1st Reading: Rev 14:1-3, 4b-5:
I, John, looked and there was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. I heard a sound from heaven like the sound of rushing water or a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. They were singing what seemed to be a new hymn before the throne, before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn this hymn except the hundred and forty-four thousand who had been ransomed from the earth. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been ransomed as the first fruits of the human race for God and the Lamb. On their lips no deceit has been found; they are unblemished.
Gospel: Lk 21:1-4:
Jesus looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury of the temple. He also saw a poor widow, who dropped in two small coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow put in more than all of them. For all of them gave an offering from their plenty; but she, out of her poverty, gave all she had to live on.“
Today‘s gospel presents to us a poor widow, but with exceeding generosity, because she gave all what she had, her whole livelihood, for the temple treasury. Her poverty did not stop her from giving her share. Her great love is greater than her need. The others were putting in offerings which they could easily afford; it would have involved no diminution of their lifestyle, no hardship of any kind. God is not interested in how much we give, but in why we give. God does not look at the amount of the gift but at the spirit of the giver.
Jesus sets her up as an example of someone who put her total trust in God‘s providence. She gave everything to him. If only we, too, could have that kind of trust, that kind of generosity, that ability to share and that kind of freedom – freedom from material security and freedom for others. The richest person is not the one who has accumulated much but the one who has the least needs. In this sense, this poor widow was rich indeed.
There is always a difference in giving alms and sharing our goods with others. At the end, what makes the difference is either we give everything with trust in God‘s providence or we give but with a heavy heart fearing more our own insecurities. God loves a cheerful giver.
1st Reading: Rev 14:14-19:
I, John, looked and there was a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud one who looked like a son of man, with a gold crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Another angel came out of the temple, crying out in a loud voice to the one sitting on the cloud, “Use your sickle and reap the harvest, for the time to reap has come, because the earth’s harvest is fully ripe.” So the one who was sitting on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.
Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven who also had a sharp sickle. Then another angel came from the altar, who was in charge of the fire, and cried out in a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Use your sharp sickle and cut the clusters from the earth’s vines, for its grapes are ripe.” So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and cut the earth’s vintage. He threw it into the great wine press of God’s fury.
Gospel: Lk 21:5-11:
While some people were talking about the temple, remarking that it was adorned with fine stonework and rich gifts, Jesus said to them, “The days will come when there shall not be left one stone upon another of all that you now admire; all will be torn down.“ And they asked him, “Master, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?“
Jesus said, “Take care not to be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he; the time is near at hand!‘ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and troubled times, don‘t be frightened; for all these things must happen first, even though the end is not so soon.“ And Jesus said, “Nations will fight each other and kingdom will oppose kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and plagues; in many places strange and terrifying signs from heaven will be seen.“
Jesus told them that the end will not follow immediately. More than that, Jesus told them that hard times are an opportunity to find God and not the time to give up. And, the disciples listened and kept their faith in him. On a more personal and much more realistic level, we may be anxious about the signs of our own death or the final destruction of the earth. But again it does not help to become fearful and anxious. Rather the imperative is to live each day to the full and to make it productive for ourselves and others. At the end of the day, the story is about each one of us; it is about our struggles. It is about our search to find God and to trust Jesus in our journey.
And, it is about God giving us the opportunity to share the joys and wonders of faith carved into us through sacrifice and loving without counting the cost. How will you make sure that God‘s story does not end with you? What is your story going to be? What are you going to share? Have you kept the faith? “Do not worry,“ Jesus says, “about what you will testify.“ Simply trust him. Keep an eye out for God‘s actions in the world and in people‘s lives, and trust in the words of Jesus not to be afraid.
1st Reading: Rev 15:1-4:
I, John, saw in heaven another sign, great and awe-inspiring: seven angels with the seven last plagues, for through them God’s fury is accomplished.
Then I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire. On the sea of glass were standing those who had won the victory over the beast and its image and the number that signified its name. They were holding God’s harps, and they sang the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb:
“Great and wonderful are your works, Lord God almighty. Just and true are your ways, O king of the nations. Who will not fear you, Lord, or glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All the nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
Gospel: Lk 21:12-19:
Before all these things happen, people will lay their hands on you and persecute you; you will be delivered to the synagogues and put in prison, and for my sake you will be brought before kings and governors. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. So keep this in mind: do not worry in advance about what to say, for I will give you words and wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends, and some of you will be put to death. But even though, because of my name, you will be hated by everyone, not a hair of your head will perish. By your patient endurance you will save your souls.
Jesus warns his own disciples. He speaks of abuse and persecution. “They will hand you over to the synagogues and prisons…“ However, he assures them not to fear or be anxious. When the time comes, they will know what to do and what to say. He will tell them what to say and how to answer. A promise that has been vindicated again and again. One thinks of, in our own time, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Maximilian Kolbe, Bishop Oscar Romero, Mother Teresa and many others. Their memories are treasured and become an inspiration to all of us to follow their example.
The constant challenge is to have the courage to be true to our Christian values whatever the cost. Let us not be surprised that our faith can create such anger, hostility, and total rejection. At the same time, we reach out continually in truth and mercy to bring healing and reconciliation among us. We must try hard to help people see where real truth and goodness lie. And we do that by seeking for that in our own lives. We are constantly invited to live out the wisdom which God gives and not out of fear and anxiety. Stay in touch with the depths, the Spirit who dwells within us in good and difficult times.
1st Reading: Rev 18:1-2, 21-23; 19:1-3, 9a:
I, John, saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth became illumined by his splendor. He cried out in a mighty voice:
“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great. She has become a haunt for demons. She is a cage for every unclean spirit, a cage for every unclean bird, a cage for every unclean and disgusting beast.”
A mighty angel picked up a stone like a huge millstone and threw it into the sea and said:
“With such force will Babylon the great city be thrown down, and will never be found again. No melodies of harpists and musicians, flutists and trumpeters, will ever be heard in you again. No craftsmen in any trade will ever be found in you again. No sound of the millstone will ever be heard in you again. No light from a lamp will ever be seen in you again. No voices of bride and groom will ever be heard in you again. Because your merchants were the great ones of the world, all nations were led astray by your magic potion.”
After this I heard what sounded like the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying:
“Alleluia! Salvation, glory, and might belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her harlotry. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”
They said a second time:
“Alleluia! Smoke will rise from her forever and ever.”
Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.”
Gospel: Lk 21:20-28:
When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that the time has come when it will be reduced to a wasteland. If you are in Judea, flee to the mountains! If you are in Jerusalem, leave! If you are outside the city, don‘t enter it! For these will be the days of its punishment, and all that was announced in the Scriptures will be fulfilled. How hard will it be for pregnant women, and for mothers with babies at the breast! For a great calamity will come upon the land, and wrath upon this people. They will be put to death by the sword, or taken as slaves to other nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled upon by the pagans, until the time of the pagans is fulfilled.
The coming of the Son of Man. Then there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of nations, perplexed when they hear the roaring of the sea and its waves. People will faint with fear at the mere thought of what is to come upon the world, for the forces of the universe will be shaken. Then, at that time, they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. The signs of the times. So, when you see things begin to happen, stand erect and lift up your heads, for your deliverance is drawing near.“
Jesus continues his warnings of what is to come. He is pointing to the cause of such events – the corruption and greed of so many for which destruction was the inescapable outcome. So he calls them the “days of retribution“ or the “time of punishment“, not indicating God‘s revenge but the result human choice to do evil. Jesus speaks of various cataclysmic and apocalyptic signs to signal the end of time. They are typical biblical phenomena and not meant to be taken as exact foretelling of events. It is not intended to fill people with fear and trembling, except perhaps those who have chosen to make their lives miserable.
But for the disciples, it is a time to reap what has been a life of service to others. Sufferings and rejections are part and parcel of living the Christian life and being purified in the process. There is no conversion without the fire of suffering and sacrifice. Living the way of Jesus is a ‘sign of contradiction‘, a beacon of light to many and to others a threat to their way of life. But for those who have tried to live by the vision and values of the Gospel, for those who have tried to seek and find Jesus in daily events of their lives, who have spent hours doing good to others, it is the time to feel and witness God‘s redeeming love to the full.
St. Andrew, Apostle
1st Reading: Rom 10:9-18:
Brothers and sisters: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The Scripture says, No one who believes in him will be put to shame. There is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, enriching all who call upon him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news! But not everyone has heeded the good news; for Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed what was heard from us? Thus faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ. But I ask, did they not hear? Certainly they did; for Their voice has gone forth to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.
Gospel: Mt 4:18-22:
As Jesus walked by the lake of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come, follow me; and I will make you fish for people.“ At once they left their nets and followed him. He went on from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John, in a boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. Jesus called them. At once, they left the boat, and their father, and followed him.
Jesus began to choose disciples to participate with Him in proclaiming the Kingdom of God and sharing God‘s love and compassion with everyone. Jesus chose these unschooled, unsophisticated and simple fishermen to be His change agents in the world. He took them as they were and patiently took them to unlearn their old ways and begin to learn what it meant to serve others without lording over them. The process was not easy and at the end, they even betrayed and abandoned him. However, He never gave up on them. He believed in them until the end. Jesus chooses ordinary people, like you and me, to be his followers.
By His grace and mercy, he invites all to trust in Him and be his witnesses of his caring presence in the world; to believe in the truth of his word and deeds in spite of opposition and indifference to his counter-cultural values; to serve him through our loving service to those around us and to faithfully and joyfully follow wherever He leads us. Through the life-giving words and deeds of Jesus, God invites us to be his own messengers to the world today. If we respond to him like the early disciples, he will remain faithful to us until the end.
1st Reading: Rev 22:1-7:
An angel showed me the river of life-giving water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the street, On either side of the river grew the tree of life that produces fruit twelve times a year, once each month; the leaves of the trees serve as medicine for the nations. Nothing accursed will be found anymore. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will look upon his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. Night will be no more, nor will they need light from lamp or sun, for the Lord God shall give them light, and they shall reign forever and ever.
And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true, and the Lord, the God of prophetic spirits, sent his angel to show his servants what must happen soon.” “Behold, I am coming soon.” Blessed is the one who keeps the prophetic message of this book.
Gospel: Lk 21:34-36:
Be on your guard: don‘t immerse yourselves in a life of pleasure, drunkenness and worldly cares, lest that day catch you unaware, like a trap! For, like a snare, will that day come upon all the inhabitants of the earth. But watch at all times and pray, that you may be able to escape all that is going to happen, and to stand before the Son of Man.
Anticipation and anxiety go hand in hand. These are two reactions to a life under pressure. The latter sees only fear and darkness. While the other sees light and hope. Life offers all kinds of test and struggle. What is needed is to ask ourselves what are our core values and what really matters in our lives. We can live a high moral life, as if tomorrow does matter. Or we can choose to live as if tomorrow does not matter. And we can pray for the strength to live through the darker days or we take things for granted. Ultimately, we can live as if Jesus is fully present and it matters to hold on his words. We can begin to take our responsibilities seriously and stop blaming other people.
Choose one area in your life that makes you in fearful and anxious. How can faith turn your fear into an act of trust God‘s care? We are called to trust that everything will be fine and that we can see blessings in our families and communities. The blessings could be so ordinary like good health or caring friends. All that is called for is to have time for silence within and be filled with gratitude. Richard Rohr says: “To become aware of God‘s presence in our lives, we have to accept what is often difficult, particularly for people in what appears to be a success-driven culture…Wisdom teachers from many traditions have recognized that we human beings do not naturally see; we have to be taught how to see.“