Bible Diary for April 18th – 24th
3rd Sunday of Easter
1st Reading: Acts 3:13–15, 17–19:
Peter said, “The God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus whom you handed over to death and denied before Pilate, when even Pilate had decided to release him. You rejected the Holy and Just One, and you insisted that a murderer be released to you. You killed the Master of life, but God raised him from the dead and we are witnesses to this. “Yet I know that you acted out of ignorance, as did your leaders. God has fulfilled in this way what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. “Repent, then, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out.“
2nd Reading: 1 Jn 2:1–5a:
My little children, I write to you that you may not sin. But if anyone sins, we have an intercessor with the Father, Jesus Christ, the Just One. He is the sacrificial victim for our sins and the sins of the whole world. How can we know that we know him? If we fulfill his commands. If you say, “I know him,” but do not fulfill his commands, you are a liar and the truth is not in you. But if you keep his word, God’s love is made complete in you. This is how we know that we are in him.
Gospel: Lk 24:35–48:
The two disciples told what had happened on the road to Emmaus, and how Jesus had made himself known, when he broke bread with them. While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood in their midst. (He said to them, “Peace to you.”) In their panic and fright they thought they were seeing a ghost, but he said to them, “Why are you upset, and how does such an idea cross your minds? Look at my hands and feet, and see that it is I myself! Touch me, and see for yourselves, for a ghost has no flesh and bones as I have!” (As he said this, he showed his hands and feet.) Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, as they were astonished; so he said to them, “Have you anything to eat?”
And they gave him a piece of broiled fish. He took it, and ate it before them. Then Jesus said to them, “Remember the words I spoke to you when I was still with you: Everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said, “So it was written: the Messiah had to suffer, and on the third day rise from the dead. Then repentance and forgiveness in his name would be proclaimed to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. And 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.
1st Reading: Acts 6:8–15:
Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. Some persons then came forward, who belonged to the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia and Asia. They argued with Stephen but they could not match the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke. As they were unable to face the truth, they bribed some men to say, “We heard him speak against Moses and against God.”
So they stirred up the people, the elders and the teachers of the Law; they took him by surprise, seized him and brought him before the Council. Then they produced false witnesses who said, “This man never stops speaking against our Holy Place and the Law. We even heard him say that Jesus the Nazarean will destroy our Holy Place and change the customs which Moses handed down to us.” And all who sat in the Council fixed their eyes on him, and his face appeared to them like the face of an angel.
Gospel: Jn 6:22–29:
Next day the people, who had stayed on the other side, realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples; but rather, the disciples had gone away alone. Other boats from Tiberias landed near the place where all these people had eaten the bread. When they saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Master, when did you come here?”
Jesus answered, “Truly, I say to you, you look for me, not because of the signs which you have seen, but because you ate bread and were satisfied. Work then, not for perishable food, but for the lasting food which gives eternal life. The Son of Man will give it to you, for he is the one on whom the Father has put his mark.” Then the Jews asked him, “What shall we do? What are the works that God wants us to do?” And Jesus answered them, “The work God wants is this: that you believe in the One whom God has 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.
1st Reading: Acts 7:51–8:1a:
Stephen said, “But you are a stubborn people, you hardened your hearts and closed your ears. You have always resisted the Holy Spirit just as your fathers did. Was there a prophet whom your ancestors did not persecute? They killed those who announced the coming of the Just One whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the Law through the angels but did not fulfill it.” When they heard this reproach, they were enraged and they gnashed their teeth against Stephen. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, fixed his eyes on heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus at God’s right hand, so he declared: “I see the heavens open and the Son of Man at the right hand of God.”
But they shouted and covered their ears with their hands and rushed together upon him. They brought him out of the city and stoned him, and the witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen prayed saying: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and said in a loud voice: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he died. Saul was there, approving his murder. This was the beginning of a great persecution against the Church in Jerusalem. All, except the apostles, were scattered throughout the region of Judea and Samaria.
Gospel: Jn 6:30–35:
The crowd said to Jesus, “Show us miraculous signs, that we may see and believe you. What sign do you perform? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert; as Scripture says: They were given bread from heaven to eat.” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven. My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. The bread God gives is the One who comes from heaven and gives life to the world.” And they said to him, “Give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall never be hungry, and whoever believes in me shall never be thirsty.”
“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)
1st Reading: Acts 8:1b–8:
Saul was there, approving his murder. This was the beginning of a great persecution against the Church in Jerusalem. All, except the apostles, were scattered throughout the region of Judea and Samaria. Devout men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. Saul meanwhile was trying to destroy the Church; he entered house after house and dragged off men and women and had them put in jail. At the same time those who were scattered went about preaching the word.
Philip went down to a town of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. All the people paid close attention to what Philip said as they listened to him and saw the miraculous signs that he did. For in cases of possession, the unclean spirits came out shrieking loudly. Many people who were paralyzed or crippled were healed. So there was great joy in that town.
Gospel: Jn 6:35–40:
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall never be hungry, and whoever believes in me shall never be thirsty. Nevertheless, as I said, you refuse to believe, even when you have seen. Yet all those whom the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me, I shall not turn away. For I have come from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of the One who sent me. And the will of him who sent me is that I lose nothing of what he has given me, but instead that I raise it up on the last day. This is the will of the Father, that whoever sees the Son and believes in him shall live eternal life; and I will raise him up 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)
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 he is drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise him up on the last day. It has been written in the Prophets: They shall all be taught by God. So whoever listens and learns from the Father comes to me. For no one has seen the Father except the One who comes from God; he has seen the Father.
“Truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Though your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, they died. But here you have the bread which comes from heaven, so that you may eat of it, and not die. I am the living bread which has come from heaven; whoever eats of this bread will live forever. The bread I shall give is my flesh, and I will give it 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.
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 were arguing among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus replied, “Truly, I say to you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. My flesh is really food, and my blood is truly drink.
“Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood, live in me, and I in them. Just as the Father, who is life, sent me, and I have life from the Father, so whoever eats me will have life from me. This is the bread from heaven; not like that of your ancestors, who ate and later died. Those who eat this bread will live forever.” Jesus spoke in this way in Capernaum when he taught them in the synagogue.
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.”
St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen
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:
After hearing this, many of Jesus‘ followers said, “This language is very hard! Who can accept it?” Jesus was aware that his disciples were murmuring about this, and so he said to them, “Does this offend you? Then how will you react when you see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, not the flesh. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. But among you there are some who do not believe.”
From the beginning, Jesus knew who would betray him. So he added, “As I have told you, no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.” After this many disciples withdrew and no longer followed him. Jesus asked the Twelve, “Will you also go away?” Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We now believe and know 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.