Bible Diary for April 14th – April 20th

April 14th

3rd Sunday of Easter

1st Reading: Acts 3:13-15, 17-19:
Peter said to the people: “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence when he had decided to release him. You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses. Now I know, brothers, that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did; but God has thus brought to fulfillment what he had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer. Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.”

2nd Reading: 1 Jn 2:1-5a:
My children, I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world. The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments. Those who say, “I know him,” but do not keep his commandments are liars, and the truth is not in them. But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him.

Gospel: Lk 24:35-48:
The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread. While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”

They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them. He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

Belief in the Lord’s resurrection impels us to radically change our way of thinking and living. However, there are still many among us who call themselves Christians and keep living as if Christ had never risen. They remain in their old selves and living in want and meaninglessness. How do we live as Easter people? Are we professing our faith in the risen Lord in words and in deeds? Lord, oftentimes we stumble and fall in our journey because of our confusions and experience of meaninglessness. Make us strong and firm in our faith in you as we traverse the path of uncertainties; surprise us with your loving and comforting presence when we are attacked by disbelief for You are the way, the truth and the life! Amen. Be the source of hope and life of your family or community today by doing good works of charity. Stop gossiping! Listen to the problems of your children. Understand and give affirmation to the effort of your father or mother.

April 15th

1st Reading: Acts 6:8-15:
Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people. Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen, Cyreneans, and Alexandrians, and people from Cilicia and Asia, came forward and debated with Stephen, but they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. Then they instigated some men to say, “We have heard him speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God.” They stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes, accosted him, seized him, and brought him before the Sanhedrin. They presented false witnesses who testified, “This man never stops saying things against this holy place and the law. For we have heard him claim that this Jesus the Nazorean will destroy this place and change the customs that Moses handed down to us.” All those who sat in the Sanhedrin looked intently at him and saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Gospel: Jn 6:22-29:
[After Jesus had fed the five thousand men, his disciples saw him walking on the sea.] The next day, the crowd that remained across the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not gone along with his disciples in the boat, but only his disciples had left. Other boats came from Tiberias near the place where they had eaten the bread when the Lord gave thanks. When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. It is not surprising that people sought the Lord again, for bread and butter symbolizes basic needs (food, shelter and clothing). Being poor, they were more concerned with survival. Our language too symbolizes hunger and thirst. A big cheese is a VIP, cool as a cucumber means to be calm, finger in the pie is to participate, full of beans is full of energy, and hit the sauce means to regularly drink alcoholic beverages.

“…When a lot of things start going wrong all at once, it is to protect something big and lovely that is trying to get itself born—and … this something needs for you to be distracted so that it can be born as perfectly as possible.”(Anne Lamott, Travelling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith) The people pursued Jesus not for something divine – the bread of life, but because their prime reason is to be bodily fed again. It was a total distraction from Jesus’ real intent for them: to seek for imperishable food. However, it was a blessing in disguise. Jesus used their waywardness, physical search to take them to the bread that lasts forever.

April 16th

St. Bernadette

1st Reading: Acts 7:51-8:1a:
Stephen said to the people, the elders, and the scribes: “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always oppose the Holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors. Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They put to death those who foretold the coming of the righteous one, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become. You received the law as transmitted by angels, but you did not observe it.” When they heard this, they were infuriated, and they ground their teeth at him.

But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and Stephen said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him together. They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”; and when he said this, he fell asleep. Now Saul was consenting to his execution.

Gospel: Jn 6:30-35:
The crowd said to Jesus: “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” So they said to Jesus, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

“Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” (Jn 4:15) Understandably, the Samaritan woman was tired and lazy in going to the well. The crowd wanted an easy life another shower of manna. Scarlett had the same experience. “As God is my witness, as God is my witness they’re not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this and when it’s all over, I’ll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.“ (Scarlett O’Hara, Gone with the Wind, 1939) The crowd sought Jesus for the sake of the flesh not for the spirit. How many times are prayers offered for no loftier reason but to receive a temporal benefit? One asks a priest’s intercession for a successful business; another who wants a visa to another country goes to the church. “Jesus is scarcely sought after for Jesus’ sake. Ye seek me for something else, seek me for my own sake.” (Augustine, Tractate XXV, VI. 15–44)

April 17th

1st Reading: Acts 8:1b-8:
There broke out a severe persecution of the Church in Jerusalem, and all were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria, except the Apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made a loud lament over him. Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the Church; entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment. Now those who had been scattered went about preaching the word. Thus Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ to them. With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing. For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice, came out of many possessed people, and many paralyzed and crippled people were cured. There was great joy in that city.

Gospel: Jn 6:35-40:
Jesus said to the crowds, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. But I told you that although you have seen me, you do not believe. 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.”

It is believed that humans can go on for weeks without food and a week without water. There is an interdependence that exists between water and food. It is further contended that defective management of water supply has a disastrous effect on agriculture, and vice versa. Increasing consumption of water and food disrupts the already fragile ecosystem, resulting into global warming. Thus, irresponsible use of water (five million people die every year from illnesses caused by poor quality of drinking water) and devil-may-care attitude toward food (925 million people are chronically hungry) have a boomerang effect on humans.

However, concern for natural food and water should not distract every person to seek for everlasting bread and drink. After all the wonders and miracles Jesus had wrought, still some of his contemporaries refused to believe. It is still true today. If the world is zealously concerned for its starving and thirsty inhabitants, should it not be more solicitous for what is heavenly? Rather than prick the conscience of those who don’t go beyond material sustenance, communicants should search theirs if they show by examples what they receive. After all, “You are what you eat!” (Augustine)

April 18th

1st Reading: Acts 8:26-40:
The angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, “Get up and head south on the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, the desert route.” So he got up and set out. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, that is, the queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury, who had come to Jerusalem to worship, and was returning home. Seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. The Spirit said to Philip, “Go and join up with that chariot.” Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” So he invited Philip to get in and sit with him. This was the Scripture passage he was reading: Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opened not his mouth.

In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who will tell of his posterity? For his life is taken from the earth. Then the eunuch said to Philip in reply, “I beg you, about whom is the prophet saying this? About himself, or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth and, beginning with this Scripture passage, he proclaimed Jesus to him. As they traveled along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look, there is water. What is to prevent my being baptized?” Then he ordered the chariot to stop, and Philip and the eunuch both went down into the water, and he baptized him. When they came out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, but continued on his way rejoicing. Philip came to Azotus, and went about proclaiming the good news to all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

Gospel: Jn 6:44-51:
Jesus said to the crowds: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: They shall all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my Flesh for the life of the world.”

The law of gravity, opposite poles attract each other, is a truism both scientifically and spiritually. Prostitutes, corrupt tax collectors, untouchable lepers, unclean women, men possessed by evil spirits, the poor, the simple and uneducated fishermen are all drawn to Jesus. Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. The two brothers, James and John, had personal ambition. Matthew was a sinful tax collector. The political authorities, the Sadducees and Pharisees stayed away from him.

They thought they were holy. This attraction between Jesus and the rejects-misfits of society started when he was born in a manger. The simple poor shepherds and the pagan wise men were the ones who were drawn first to his crib. Why are rejects and misfits drawn to Jesus? It is due to his divine power. When the woman touched the hem of Jesus’ garments, he realized that “power had gone out from him.” (Mk 5:30) At Gethsemane, as Jesus said, “ ‘I Am he,’ they all drew back and fell to the ground!” (Jn 18:6) Our weakness can bring us to Jesus. Like poles repel each other. If we think we’re “holy,” there is no need for his grace.

April 19th

1st Reading: Acts 9:1-20:
Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that, if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains. On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” He said, “Who are you, sir?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, for they heard the voice but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus.

For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank. There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.” The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is there praying, and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, that he may regain his sight.” But Ananias replied, “Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to imprison all who call upon your name.”

But the Lord said to him, “Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.” So Ananias went and entered the house; laying his hands on him, he said, “Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. He got up and was baptized, and when he had eaten, he recovered his strength. He stayed some days with the disciples in Damascus, and he began at once to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.

Gospel: Jn 6:52-59:
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my Flesh is true food, and my Blood is true drink. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

The custom of eating bread, the bones and flesh of Huitzilopochtli, was the ancient Aztecs’ way of communing with him and is called teoqualo, “god is eaten.” Every May and December, an image of this god is made from dough, broken in pieces and solemnly eaten. This practice was also common among the Aryans of ancient India. The Brahmans offered rice-cakes and converted ritually into the real bodies of men. (Eating the God among the Aztecs, Sir J. George. The Golden Bough) The pagan rituals tried to honestly verbalize the ancients’ communion with their gods. Polytheism arose out of finite man’s desire to capture the immense divine power.

Thus, the ancients ended up with many gods/goddesses. Divine revelation sets apart Christianity from other faiths, because Jesus Christ is God-in-person, incarnated (in+carx, flesh) through whom God has spoken. The Eucharistic meal is not humanly fabricated, but since the beginning is based on God’s love He shares with us his eternal life. To be with Jesus Christ, in whom the fullness of divinity dwells, He calls us to a lifelong humility. “Receive what you are.” (Augustine). That makes Christ incarnated in us and his life becomes ours. We are “alter Christus.”

April 20th

1st Reading: Acts 9:31-42:
The Church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace. She was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit she grew in numbers. As Peter was passing through every region, he went down to the holy ones living in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been confined to bed for eight years, for he was paralyzed. Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and make your bed.” He got up at once. And all the inhabitants of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord. Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated is Dorcas).

She was completely occupied with good deeds and almsgiving. Now during those days she fell sick and died, so after washing her, they laid her out in a room upstairs. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter got up and went with them. When he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs where all the widows came to him weeping and showing him the tunics and cloaks that Dorcas had made while she was with them. Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed. Then he turned to her body and said, “Tabitha, rise up.” She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up. He gave her his hand and raised her up, and when he had called the holy ones and the widows, he presented her alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many came to believe in the Lord.

Gospel: Jn 6:60-69:
Many of the disciples of Jesus who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer walked with him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

Peter is not the most intelligent of the apostles. He commits blunders, sometimes speaks stupidly, and can be impulsive and unthinking. And yet in a moment of crisis, he seems to be the one to give a proper response. This is one situation. Jesus‘ words and challenges seem to be too hard and too demanding that many disciples shook their heads and went away. And Jesus asked those closest to him the poignant question: Will you also go away? One can almost hear the sadness in this question. And Peter saves the situation with his brave and loyal response. Don‘t we sometimes find the Christian challenge hard to follow: love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you. Turn the other cheek. Be eunuchs for the Kingdom of God. Leave all you have and come and follow me. To whom do we go when we find our chosen path difficult and too heavy to bear? That is when we echo Peter‘s unflinching loyalty and steadfast fidelity to God who has called us.