Bible Diary for December 2nd – 8thBible Diary
First Sunday of Advent
1st Reading: Jer 33:14-16:
The days are coming when I shall fulfill the promise that I made in favor of Israel and Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause to sprout the shoot of righteousness from David‘s line; he will practice justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will experience salvation and Jerusalem will live in safety. He will be called Yahweh-Our Righteousness.
2nd Reading: 1 Thes 3:12-4:2:
May the Lord increase, more and more, your love for each other and for all people, as he increases our love for you. May he strengthen you, internally, to be holy and blameless before God, our Father, on the day that Jesus, our Lord, will come with all his saints. For the rest, brothers, we ask you, in the name of Jesus, the Lord, and we urge you, to live in a way that pleases God, just as you have learned from us. This you do but try to do still more. You know the instructions we gave you on behalf of the Lord Jesus.
Gospel: Lk 21:25-28, 34-36:
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. So, when you see things begin to happen, stand erect and lift up your heads, for your deliverance is drawing near.
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.
The good things of promise are not necessarily packaged in attractive envelopes; they often come in the midst of frightening events. This is good news: Even when the world seems to fall apart and the foundations of our lives are shaken, the people of promise who have lived a life good enough to please the Lord do not need to panic: in the midst of such tragedies, something new and good is being born for them. Pray for the gift of discerning God‘s blessings even in the midst of trials and struggles.
St. Francis Xavier
1st Reading: Is 2:1-5:
This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz, saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
In days to come, the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. All nations shall stream toward it; many peoples shall come and say: “Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.” For from Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.
O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!
Gospel: Mt 8:5-11:
When Jesus entered Capernaum, an army captain approached him, to ask his help, “Sir, my servant lies sick at home. He is paralyzed and suffers terribly.“ Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.“ The captain answered, “I am not worthy to have you under my roof. Just give an order and my boy will be healed. For I myself, a junior officer, give orders to my soldiers.
And if I say to one, ‘Go!‘ he goes; and if I say to another, ‘Come!‘ he comes; and if I say to my servant, ‘Do this!‘ he does it.“ When Jesus heard this, he was astonished; and said to those who were following him, “I tell you, I have not found such faith in Israel. I say to you, many will come from east and west and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of heaven.“
The person asking for help is a centurion, a soldier and presumably not a Jew. Yet he has great faith in Jesus. He asks Jesus to cure a servant who has become paralyzed. Jesus immediately responds that he will go and cure him. “No, no,“ replies the centurion. “I am not worthy that you should come to my house. Just say the word and my servant will be healed.“
Jesus is astonished at the faith of this pagan: “Nowhere in Israel have I found faith like this!“ The faith that Jesus expects is not an acceptance of doctrines and laws. It is rather a gesture of total trust and surrender to the power of God – in the power of God in Jesus. Christ asks for this faith especially when he works his miracles, which are acts of mercy and signs of his mission and witnessing to the kingdom.
Faith in Jesus is the first condition for healing to take place. For many of Jesus‘ hearers who could not see God‘s presence in Jesus, lacking was the act of faith that puts God at the center of one‘s heart. Even the disciples were slow to believe. In the book, The Crucified God, Jurgens Moltmann writes: “Our faith must be born where it is abandoned by all tangible reality; it must be born of nothingness, it must taste this nothingness and be given it to taste in a way no philosophy of nihilism can imagine.“
St. John of Damascene
1st Reading: Is 11:1-10:
On that day,
A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A Spirit of counsel and of strength, a Spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD, and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD. Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, But he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them. The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox. The baby shall play by the cobra’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair. There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea.
On that day,
The root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, The Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.
Gospel: Lk 10:21-24:
At that time, Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and made them known to little ones. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. I have been given all things by my Father, so that no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and he to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.“ Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said to them privately, “Fortunate are you to see what you see, for I tell you, that many prophets and kings would have liked to see what you see, but did not see it; and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.“
St. Luke today does record that Jesus “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit“, the only time that he does so. And He rejoices because of the overwhelming experience of intimacy and communion with God. Just think how incredibly strong that bond must have been, since it was enough to accept the consequences of being God‘s beloved. It gave him the courage to love without condition, to forgive his enemies, to violate the Sabbath to stress the weight of mercy and healing over violations of sacred laws and finally to accept the cross as the ultimate test of his fidelity to God.
What do we rejoice in? When we are happy, it is usually because something good has happened to us, or we have received something we wanted, or we have done something good for another. But it is usually more about us than God, who is the One who really loves us without counting the cost and loves us by giving his life to us. Let us ask Jesus today to teach us the secret of His Heart. How can we grow in our love for God today? Pope Francis says: “We are not Christian “part-time,“ only at certain moments, in certain circumstances, in certain decisions; no one can be Christian in this way. We are Christian all the time! Totally! May Christ‘s truth, which the Holy Spirit teaches us and gives to us, always and totally affect our daily life.“
1st Reading: Is 25:6-10a:
On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples A feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines. On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, The web that is woven over all nations; he will destroy death forever. The Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces; The reproach of his people he will remove from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken.
On that day it will be said: “Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the LORD for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!” For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain.
Gospel: Mt 15:29-37:
From there, Jesus went to the shore of Lake Galilee, and then went up into the hills, where he sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing the dumb, the blind, the lame, the crippled, and many with other infirmities. People carried them to the feet of Jesus, and he healed them. All were astonished when they saw the dumb speaking, the lame walking, the crippled healed, and the blind able to see; and they glorified the God of Israel.
Jesus called his disciples and said to them, “I am filled with compassion for these people; they have already followed me for three days and now have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away fasting, or they may faint on the way.“ His disciples said to him, “And where shall we find enough bread in this wilderness to feed such a crowd?“ Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?“ They answered, “Seven, and a few small fish.“ Jesus ordered the people to sit on the ground. Then, he took the seven loaves and the small fish, and gave thanks to God. He broke them and gave them to his disciples, who distributed them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the leftover pieces filled seven wicker baskets.
In the Gospel, full of trust and confidence, people bring their lame, the crippled, the blind and dumb. Jesus healed them all and the crowds were amazed. We witness here what Jesus stands for: the compassion of God and his desire that the sick and the excluded be healed and given full attention. They have been with him for three days and are hungry. They must be fed. There‘s not much to feed them with – seven loaves of bread and a few fish.
It is enough for Jesus. At the end seven baskets are still left uneaten. All this reflect the care and mercy of God for his people. And yet, where is it happening in so many parts of the world today? We see more indifference than care for the weak and the marginalized. There is a crucial element in today‘s Gospel we cannot overlook. It was not Jesus but his disciples who distributed the food. In our world, there is an abundance of resources and food. If there is hunger, malnutrition and other unmet basic needs, it is because we, God‘s stewards, are failing in our task of distribution and sense of justice.
If there is hunger and suffering and death, it is not the work of God; it is our failure to share our resources as a community. We have kept the goods of the earth for ourselves. Christmas is a time of giving. We could ask ourselves: To whom are we giving? Perhaps we could widen the circle this Christmas with gifts that mean life or death for the poor and the excluded.
1st Reading: Is 26:1-6:
On that day they will sing this song in the land of Judah:
“A strong city have we; he sets up walls and ramparts to protect us. Open up the gates to let in a nation that is just, one that keeps faith. A nation of firm purpose you keep in peace; in peace, for its trust in you.”
Trust in the LORD forever! For the LORD is an eternal Rock. He humbles those in high places, and the lofty city he brings down; He tumbles it to the ground, levels it with the dust. It is trampled underfoot by the needy, by the footsteps of the poor.
Gospel: Mt 7:21, 24-27:
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord! Lord!‘ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my heavenly Father.
“Therefore, anyone who hears these words of mine, and acts according to them, is like a wise man, who built his house on rock. The rain poured down, the rivers flooded, and the wind blew and struck that house. But it did not collapse, because it was built on rock. But anyone who hears these words of mine, and does not act accordingly, is like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain poured, the rivers flooded, and the wind blew and struck that house; it collapsed, and what a terrible collapse that was!“
Jesus mentions what is the essential quality of a true disciple. He or she is not to be measured merely by he says or what he prays. It is not enough, for instance, to keep saying “Lord, Lord…“ That by itself will not bring a person to commune with God. The true disciple is someone who is totally united to God in heart, soul and mind. Such a person is one who listens to Jesus and begin to live a different lifestyle and behavior. To listen to Jesus is to live like him. It is to accept fully and integrate into one‘s being the liberating truth of his message of love and forgiveness.
To live a Christian life only on the surface is like building a house on sand. We see that happening frequently when we begin to compromise our values for the sake of our own comfort and security. We fall away very quickly because our faith is not anchored in Jesus. Our values are caught by the dominant market economy of having more and consuming more. The call is to be like that sensible person who builds his house on rock, the firm foundation that is the words and deeds of life, a life built on truth and love.
1st Reading: Is 29:17-24:
Thus says the Lord GOD: But a very little while, and Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard, and the orchard be regarded as a forest! On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book; and out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see. The lowly will ever find joy in the LORD, and the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. For the tyrant will be no more and the arrogant will have gone; all who are alert to do evil will be cut off, those whose mere word condemns a man, who ensnare his defender at the gate, and leave the just man with an empty claim.
Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of the house of Jacob, who redeemed Abraham: Now Jacob shall have nothing to be ashamed of, nor shall his face grow pale. When his children see the work of my hands in his midst, they shall keep my name holy; they shall reverence the Holy One of Jacob, and be in awe of the God of Israel. Those who err in spirit shall acquire understanding, and those who find fault shall receive instruction.
Gospel: Mt 9:27-31:
As Jesus moved on from there, two blind men followed him, shouting, “Son of David, help us!“ When he was about to enter the house, the blind men caught up with him; and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do what you want?“ They answered, “Yes, sir!“ Then Jesus touched their eyes and said, “As you have believed, so let it be.“ And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus gave them a stern warning, “Be careful that no one knows about this.“ But as soon as they went away, they spread the news about him through the whole area.
The Gospel speaks about two blind men going after Jesus calling after him in desperation: “Have compassion on us, Son of David!“ There is already an element of trust in calling Jesus and to his healing power. When they catch up with Jesus, he asks them “Do you believe that I can do this?“ Without their trust in him, Jesus cannot do anything for them. These men say they do believe. “Your faith deserves it, so let it be done for you.“ They get their sight back. They can now see. Jesus tells them not to say anything about it. Jesus is not interested in being a sensation, he does not want people to have a wrong idea of his real mission. But they ignored his appeal and went about telling everyone of what had happened.
There is more than healing here. What we have here is not just the restoration of their capacity to see. They have gained in-sight. They can really see with the eyes of faith. They can see who Jesus really is, the Word of God, the healing presence of God and they simply have to share that experience with everyone else. Today is a day for us to be aware of our own blindness by taking for granted many times to see our God-given blessings. If we are to celebrate Christmas properly, we must learn how to listen to God‘s Word, with understanding and acceptance, and learn how to see deeply into the meaning of his life as it is presented to us.
Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary
1st Reading: Gen 3:9-15, 20:
After the man, Adam, had eaten of the tree, the LORD God called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself.” Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked? You have eaten, then, from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!” The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.” The LORD God then asked the woman, “Why did you do such a thing?” The woman answered, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.”
Then the LORD God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you shall be banned from all the animals and from all the wild creatures; on your belly shall you crawl, and dirt shall you eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.”
The man called his wife Eve, because she became the mother of all the living.
2nd Reading: Eph 1:3-6, 11-12:
Brothers and sisters:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.
In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ.
Gospel: Lk 1:26-38:
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God, to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a virgin, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the virgin‘s name was Mary. The angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you!“ Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean. But the angel said, “Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you. You shall conceive and bear a son; and you shall call him Jesus. He will be great, and shall rightly be called Son of the Most High. (…) Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?“ And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the holy child to be born of you shall be called Son of God. Then Mary said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said.“ And the angel left her.
As a young woman, Mary is quite taken aback by the Angel Gabriel‘s words: “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.“ Luke says that Mary was greatly troubled. Gabriel counters with the words “Do not be afraid, Mary,“ to assure that her call comes with the assurance of God‘s presence. Was Mary afraid? The answer is yes like anyone who hears a different call and a new disruptive plan in one‘s life. Her initial fear gave way to trust in God‘s initiative of being a partner of a new humanity. Mary models to us a faith that is rooted in trust and confidence in a new covenant with God.
The question is whether like her, we move with faith or are paralyzed by fear. Many often live in fear of death, fear of a spouse leaving, fear of sickness, fear of rejection and even imagined fears. When fear lives in us, as opposed to being a momentary reaction to something new, we are paralyzed by it and end up doing nothing. We respond to situations out of fear rather than out of faith and make pretty poor disciples. We are controlled by our fears and fail to see God‘s presence and action in our lives. We see that Mary accepted the angel‘s “Fear not“ with trust and carried by her faith to say “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said.“ Mary affirms the bedrock truth that undergirds discipleship: “let your will be done.“