Bible Diary for April 21st – April 27th

April 21st

4th Sunday of Easter
St. Anselm

1st Reading: Acts 4:8-12:
Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said: “Leaders of the people and elders: If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a cripple, namely, by what means he was saved, then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed. He is the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”

2nd Reading: 1 Jn 3:1-2:
Beloved: See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

Gospel: Jn 10:11-18:
Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.”

If we are doing our work or tasks with the expectation of being affirmed and given a reward, we are not really following Christ. How do you lay down your life for your friend? How do you accompany the people entrusted in your care? Sometimes, I almost give up when amidst doing good I am persecuted. I almost run away from my family or community because I am not affirmed and appreciated. You let me experience worthlessness to make me humble. You make me weak so I will be strong. Thank You, dear Lord, for all the lessons learned. Amen. Go and say thank you to your boss for running well the affairs of your office. Say, “I love you or I am sorry” to people guiding you, your parents, aunts, uncles or grandparents.

April 22nd

1st Reading: Acts 11:1-18:
The Apostles and the brothers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles too had accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem the circumcised believers confronted him, saying, ‘You entered the house of uncircumcised people and ate with them.” Peter began and explained it to them step by step, saying, “I was at prayer in the city of Joppa when in a trance I had a vision, something resembling a large sheet coming down, lowered from the sky by its four corners, and it came to me. Looking intently into it, I observed and saw the four-legged animals of the earth, the wild beasts, the reptiles, and the birds of the sky. I also heard a voice say to me, ‘Get up, Peter. Slaughter and eat.’

“But I said, ‘Certainly not, sir, because nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But a second time a voice from heaven answered, ‘What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.’ This happened three times, and then everything was drawn up again into the sky. Just then three men appeared at the house where we were, who had been sent to me from Caesarea. The Spirit told me to accompany them without discriminating. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. He related to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, saying, ‘Send someone to Joppa and summon Simon, who is called Peter, who will speak words to you by which you and all your household will be saved.’

“As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them as it had upon us at the beginning, and I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave them the same gift he gave to us when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to hinder God?” When they heard this, they stopped objecting and glorified God, saying, “God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too.”

Gospel: Jn 10:1-10:
Jesus said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”

Although Jesus used this figure of speech, they did not realize what he was trying to tell them. So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

Except for lamb (less than one year old) and mutton meat (over one year of age) supply, wool and milk, sheep are frowned upon. Why? A sheep person is considered a no-question asking follower, a “yes-man.” Sheep are powerless, defenseless and preyed upon by wolves and other predators. They are fearful, easily get frustrated and hungry. The shepherd leads the sheep with a staff as well as a sheepdog for guidance. Sheep must be told what to do and where to go or else they’ll wander off and get lost; they will die of starvation if they fell and not helped by the shepherd.

Indeed, of all livestock they need the most care. Jesus’ ways are not man’s ways. Jesus made use of the sheep’s negative traits for positive results. As his sheep, we are enjoined to have those positive traits: to be a “yes-man” and unquestioning love for him, as he is towards his Father. He knows we are powerless and easily burdened by anxieties and temptations, so he leads us to a holy ground, as a True Shepherd does. Someone said that if you cannot sleep, stop counting sheep, talk to the Shepherd, and he will give you rest!

April 23rd

St. George
St. Adalbert

1st Reading: Acts 11:19-26:
Those who had been scattered by the persecution that arose because of Stephen went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but Jews. There were some Cypriots and Cyrenians among them, however, who came to Antioch and began to speak to the Greeks as well, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. The hand of the Lord was with them and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. The news about them reached the ears of the Church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to go to Antioch.

When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart, for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith. And a large number of people was added to the Lord. Then he went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the Church and taught a large number of people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.

Gospel: Jn 10:22-30:
The feast of the Dedication was taking place in Jerusalem. It was winter. And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me. But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”

The bond between the shepherd and his sheep is profound and deep that the sheep hear the shepherd’s voice and follow. The sheep are so familiar and used to their shepherd’s voice that they won’t follow and obey any other except that of their own shepherd’s. Sheep might follow a deceiver’s voice, because inborn complex patterns of behavior called instincts exist in every member of the lower species and cannot be overcome by force of will that sheep naturally don’t have.

For this reason, false shepherds try to entice and deceive sheep into following them for the former’s selfish interests. The false shepherds’ voice is very seductive and appealing, full of empty promises (cf. Jesus’ temptations in the desert), and if listened to and obeyed leads to regretful ending. That is the voice of inordinate desire to possess and to indulge life lustfully (cf. how the prodigal son was led to a “distant country” – pagan region by listening to a false voice). There’s a need to be fully alert to distinguish the loving, but soft voice (similar to the gentle breeze that Elijah heard) of Jesus from that of the false shepherd’s.

April 24th

St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen

1st Reading: Acts 12:24—13:5a:
The word of God continued to spread and grow. After Barnabas and Saul completed their relief mission, they returned to Jerusalem, taking with them John, who is called Mark. Now there were in the Church at Antioch prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Symeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who was a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, completing their fasting and prayer, they laid hands on them and sent them off. So they, sent forth by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and from there sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived in Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues.

Gospel: Jn 12:44-50:
Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me. I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness. And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world. Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day, because I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. So what I say, I say as the Father told me.”

A group of men in darkness touched an elephant to learn what it is like. Then, they discussed what each of them thinks an elephant is. One says an elephant is the tusk, another argues it is the tail. When light was turned on, they fully realized that darkness blinded them from seeing the truth. The conflict between light and darkness is as old as the world. In the beginning, man had to choose between selflessness and selfishness. Deceived by the devil, man chose the latter, “you will be like God.” There was a mischievous boy who was told by his mother, “Naughtiness will take you to hell.”

He resolved this conflict by saying he would stay healthy so that he won’t die. Jesus resolved the conflict between light and darkness by calling on God as his witness. Conviction depends on the testimony of the witness. God, the most credible witness, is often called as a witness, as in “God is my witness.” Jonathan called on God as witness when he made a promise to David. St. Paul did the same in his letter to the Corinthians. Our Christian life is our witness, because our actions speak louder than words.

April 25th

St. Mark

1st Reading: 1 Pt 5:5b-14:
Beloved: Clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for: God opposes the proud but bestows favor on the humble. So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you. Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your brothers and sisters throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.

The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little. To him be dominion forever. Amen. I write you this briefly through Silvanus, whom I consider a faithful brother, exhorting you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Remain firm in it. The chosen one at Babylon sends you greeting, as does Mark, my son. Greet one another with a loving kiss. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

Gospel: Mk 16:15-20:
Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.

Dyadic relationship is a dialogic one-on-one verbal communication between two people about their likes and dislikes, and questions and answers concerning life and beliefs. This relationship has an after effect on these two. Master-servant dialogic relationship brings the two people into a level where each influences the other. The dyad malfunctions when the master fails heart and soul to bring on board the servant, and vice versa. Another problem occurs if the difference between sender and messenger is befogged. Jesus wants to maintain the distinctions between these poles: master-servant and sender-messenger.

Overemphasis on their differences makes authority dictatorial, demeaning and demanding. Maintaining the differences, one can learn so much from each other. Obliterating their differences doesn’t allow one to fulfill each other’s mission. Right approach to dyadic relationship makes the two people of each pole relate with each other “for better and for worse.” That’s why Jesus could teach the apostles, “I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” By maintaining his status as their Master, Jesus taught his disciples how such a high position can be of humble service. It is not an authoritarian lordship, but one of loving service.

April 26th

1st Reading: Acts 13:26-33:
When Paul came to Antioch in Pisidia, he said in the synagogue: “My brothers, children of the family of Abraham, and those others among you who are God-fearing, to us this word of salvation has been sent. The inhabitants of Jerusalem and their leaders failed to recognize him, and by condemning him they fulfilled the oracles of the prophets that are read sabbath after sabbath. For even though they found no grounds for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him put to death, and when they had accomplished all that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and placed him in a tomb.

But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. These are now his witnesses before the people. We ourselves are proclaiming this good news to you that what God promised our fathers he has brought to fulfillment for us, their children, by raising up Jesus, as it is written in the second psalm, You are my Son; this day I have begotten you.”

Gospel: Jn 14:1-6:
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way.” Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

This saying is one of those proclamations of Jesus that could not be possible if he were not God. How can any mere human being say he is THE way, THE truth, and THE life? We all want to be sure that our life‘s journey is leading to somewhere meaningful. We know that along the way, we can stray, we can be distracted by temptations, by seductive siren songs. Who will bring us back to the right path and continue on our journey? CHRIST! We all seek the truth. In our world today there are more lies than truth. Advertisements deceive us at every click of the TV remote.

Newspapers and the social media can write false stories as if they really happened. Politicians promise us what they know they cannot fulfill. In our everyday dealings with people, we experience being cheated, lied to, betrayed. Where can we find the truth? IN CHRIST. We cherish our life but around us there is developing a culture of death. Life is becoming cheap. And we have around us people whose lives are miserable, threatened, eroded by poverty, exploitation, injustice. Where can we find life — life in all its fullness? IN CHRIST!

April 27th

1st Reading: Acts 13:44-52:
On the following sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said. Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.”

The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this and glorified the word of the Lord. All who were destined for eternal life came to believe, and the word of the Lord continued to spread through the whole region. The Jews, however, incited the women of prominence who were worshipers and the leading men of the city, stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their territory. So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

Gospel: Jn 14:7-14:
Jesus said to his disciples: “If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to Jesus, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own.

The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.”

Why does the Decalogue have a commandment for children, whereas there is none for parents? The family is the setting of the Commandments and it is the responsibility of parents, especially of fathers, to hand them down to the children. (J. Granados) The obligations of Jewish fathers include: to circumcise his son, teach him the Torah, teach him a trade and find him a wife. The father’s presence in the family is crucial for a mature development of a child. Teenage pregnancy, youth incarceration and drug-alcohol dependency are attributed to deadbeat dads and father’s absenteeism.

God, the Father, is always in sync with his Son, Jesus, and vice versa. Jesus incarnationally lives his Father’s presence and love to the fullest. “We must therefore let Jesus teach us what father really means … ‘Lord, show us the Father’ we say again and again to Jesus, and the answer again and again is the Son himself. Through him, and only through him, do we come to know the Father. And in this way the criterion of true fatherliness is made clear.” (Benedict XV1, Jesus of Nazareth) We are all enjoined to emulate God’s Fatherhood and Jesus’ Sonship!