Bible Diary for April 25th – May 1st

April 25th

4th Sunday of Easter
St. Mark

1st Reading: Acts 4:8–12:
Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke up, “Leaders of the people! Elders! It is a fact that we are being examined today for a good deed done to a cripple. How was he healed? You and all the people of Israel must know that this man stands before you cured through the Name of Jesus Christ the Nazarean. You had him crucified, but God raised him from the dead. Jesus is the stone rejected by you the builders which has become the cornerstone. There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is no other Name given to humankind all over the world by which we may be saved.”

2nd Reading: 1 Jn 3:1–2:
See what singular love the Father has for us: we are called children of God, and we really are. This is why the world does not know us, because it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children and what we shall be has not yet been shown. Yet when he appears in his glory, we know that we shall be like him, for then we shall see him as he is.

Gospel: Jn 10:11–18:
Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. Not so the hired hand, or any other person who is not the shepherd, and to whom the sheep do not belong. They abandon the sheep as soon as they see the wolf coming; then the wolf snatches and scatters the sheep. This is because the hired hand works for pay and cares nothing for the sheep.

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father. Because of this, I give my life for my sheep. “I have other sheep which are not of this fold. These I have to lead as well, and they shall listen to my voice. Then there will be one flock, since there is one shepherd. “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 freely. It is mine to lay down and to take up again: this mission I 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 26th

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:
Truly, I say to you, anyone who does not enter the sheep-fold by the gate, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. But the shepherd of the sheep enters by the gate. The keeper opens the gate to him and the sheep hear his voice; he calls each of his sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but rather they will run away from him, because they don’t recognize a stranger’s voice.

Jesus used this comparison, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, I am the gate of the sheep. All who came were thieves and robbers, and the sheep did not hear them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved; he will go in and out freely and find food. The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but I have come that they may have life, life in all its fullness.”

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 27th

1st Reading: Acts 11:19–26:
Those who had been scattered because of the persecution over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, proclaiming the message, but only to the Jews. But there were some natives of Cyprus and Cyrene among them who, on coming into Antioch, spoke also to the Greeks, giving them the good news of the Lord Jesus. The hand of the Lord was with them so that a great number believed and turned to the Lord. News of this reached the ears of the Church in Jerusalem, so they sent Barnabas to Antioch.

When he arrived and saw the manifest signs of God’s favor, he rejoiced and urged them all to remain firmly faithful to the Lord; for he himself was a good man filled with the Holy Spirit and faith. Thus large crowds came to know the Lord. Then Barnabas went off to Tarsus to look for Saul and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they had meetings with the Church and instructed many people. It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.

Gospel: Jn 10:22–30:
The time came for the feast of the Dedication. It was winter, and Jesus walked back and forth in the portico of Solomon. The Jews then gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in doubt? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I have already told you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name proclaim who I am, but you don’t believe because, as I said, you are not my sheep. My sheep hear my voice and I know them; they follow me and I give them eternal life. They shall never perish, and no one will ever steal them from me. What my Father has given me, is greater than all things else. To snatch it out of the Father’s hand, no one is able! I and the Father 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 28th

St. Peter Chanel
St. Louis Grignion de Montfort

1st Reading: Acts 12:24–13:5a:
Meanwhile the word of God was increasing and spreading. Barnabas and Saul carried out their mission and then came back to Jerusalem, taking with them John also called Mark. There were at Antioch—in the Church which was there—prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Symeon known as Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod, and Saul.

On one occasion while they were celebrating the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said to them, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul to do the work for which I have called them.” So, after fasting and praying, they laid their hands on them and sent them off. These then, sent by the Holy Spirit, went down to the port of Seleucia and from there sailed to Cyprus. Upon their arrival in Salamis they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogue.

Gospel: Jn 12:44–50;
Yet Jesus had said, and even cried out, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me, but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me, sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I am not the one to condemn him; for I have come, not to condemn the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects me, and does not receive my words, already has a judge: the very words I have spoken will condemn him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority; the Father, who sent me, has instructed me what to say and how to speak. I know that his commandment is eternal life, and that is why the message I give, I give as the Father instructed 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 29th

St. Catherine of Siena

1st Reading: Acts 13:13–25:
From Paphos, Paul and his companions set sail and came to Perga in Pamphylia. There John left them and returned to Jerusalem while they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. On the Sabbath day they entered the synagogue and sat down. After the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the officials of the synagogue sent this message to them, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the assembly, please speak up.”

So Paul arose, motioned to them for silence and began, “Fellow Israelites and also all you who fear God, listen. The God of our people Israel chose our ancestors, and after he had made them increase during their stay in Egypt, he led them out by powerful deeds. For forty years he fed them in the desert, and after he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance. All this took four hundred and fifty years. After that, he gave them Judges until Samuel the prophet. Then they asked for a king and God gave them Saul, son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, and he was king for forty years.

“After that time, God removed him and raised up David as king, to whom he bore witness saying: I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, who will do all I want him to do. It is from the descendants of David that God has now raised up the promised savior of Israel, Jesus. Before he appeared, John proclaimed a baptism of repentance for all the people of Israel. As John was ending his life’s work, he said: ‘I am not what you think I am, for after me another one is coming whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.’”

Gospel: Jn 13:16–20:
Truly, I say to you, the servant is not greater than his master, nor is the messenger greater than he who sent him. Understand this, and blessed are you, if you put it into practice. I am not speaking of you all, because I know the ones I have chosen, and the Scripture has to be fulfilled which says: The one who shares my table will rise up against me. I tell you this now before it happens, so that when it does happen, you may know that I am He. Truly, I say to you, whoever welcomes the one I send, welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me, welcomes the One who sent me.

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 30th

St. Pius V

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:
“Do not be troubled! Trust in God and trust in me! In my Father‘s house there are many rooms; otherwise, I would not have told you that I go to prepare a place for you. After I have gone and prepared a place for you, I shall come again and take you to me, so that where I am, you also may be. Yet you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don‘t know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but 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!

May 1st

St. Joseph the Worker

1st Reading: Acts 13:44–52:
The following Sabbath almost the entire city gathered to listen to Paul, who spoke a fairly long time about the Lord. But the presence of such a crowd made the Jews jealous. So they began to oppose with insults whatever Paul said. Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out firmly, saying, “It was necessary that God’s word be first proclaimed to you, but since you now reject it and judge yourselves to be unworthy of eternal life, we turn to non-Jewish people. For thus we were commanded by the Lord: I have set you as a light to the pagan nations, so that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”

Those who were not Jews rejoiced when they heard this and praised the message of the Lord, and all those destined for everlasting life believed in it. Thus the Word spread throughout the whole region. Some of the Jews, however, incited God-fearing women of the upper class and the leading men of the city, as well, and stirred up an intense persecution against Paul and Barnabas. Finally they had them expelled from their region. The apostles shook the dust from their feet in protest against this people and went to Iconium, leaving the disciples filled with joy and Holy Spirit.

Gospel: Jn 14:7–14:
[Jesus said to his disciples,] “If you know me, you will know the Father also; indeed you know him, and you have seen him.” Philip asked him, “Lord, show us the Father, and that is enough.” Jesus said to him, “What! I have been with you so long and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever sees me sees 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? All that I say to you, I do not say of myself.

“The Father who dwells in me is doing his own work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; at least believe it on the evidence of these works that I do. Truly, I say to you, the one who believes in me will do the same works that I do; and he will even do greater than these, for I am going to the Father. Everything you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. Indeed, anything you ask, calling upon 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!