Bible Diary for April 26th – May 2nd

April 26th

3rd Sunday of Easter

1st Reading: Acts 2:14, 22–33:
Then Peter stood up with the Eleven and, with a loud voice, addressed them, “Fellow Jews and all foreigners now staying in Jerusalem, listen to what I have to say. Fellow Israelites, listen to what I am going to tell you about Jesus of Nazareth. God accredited him and through him did powerful deeds and wonders and signs in your midst, as you well know.

You delivered him to sinners to be crucified and killed, and, in this way, the purpose of God, from all times, was fulfilled. But God raised him to life and released him from the pain of death; because it was impossible for him to be held in the power of death. David spoke of him when he said: I saw the Lord before me at all times; he is by my side, that I may not be shaken.

Therefore, my heart was glad and my tongue rejoiced; my body, too, will live in hope. Because you will not forsake me in the abode of the dead, nor allow your Holy One to experience corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life, and your presence will fill me with joy. Friends, I don’t need to prove that the patriarch David died and was buried; his tomb is with us to this day.

But he knew, that God had sworn to him, that one of his descendants would sit upon his throne and, as he was a prophet, he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah. So he said, that he would not be left in the region of the dead, nor would his body experience corruption. This Messiah is Jesus; and we are all witnesses that God raised him to life. He has been exalted at God’s right side; and the Father has entrusted the Holy Spirit to him; this Spirit, he has just poured upon us, as you now see and hear.

2nd Reading: 1 PT 1:17–21:
You call upon a Father who makes no distinction between persons, but judges, according to each one’s deeds; take seriously, then, these years which you spend in a strange land. Remember, that you were freed from the useless way of life of your ancestors, not with gold and silver, but with the precious blood of the Lamb without spot or blemish. God, who has known Christ before the world began, revealed him to you in the last days. Through him, you have faith in God, who raised him from the dead, and glorified him, in order that you might put all your faith and hope in God.

Gospel: Lk 24:13–35:
That same day, two followers of Jesus were going to Emmaus, a village seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking to each other about all the things that had happened. While they were talking and debating these things, Jesus himself approached and began to accompany them, but their eyes were not able to recognize him. He asked, “What is it you are talking about?” The two stood still, looking sad. Then the one named Cleophas answered, “Why, it seems you are the only traveler to Jerusalem who doesn’t know what has happened there these past few days.” And he asked, “What is it?”

They replied, “It is about Jesus of Nazareth. He was a prophet, you know, mighty in word and deed before God and the people. But the chief priests and our rulers sentenced him to death. They handed him over to be crucified. We had hoped that he would redeem Israel. It is now the third day since all this took place. It is also true that some women of our group have disturbed us. When they went to the tomb at dawn, they did not find his body; and they came and told us that they had had a vision of angels, who said that Jesus was alive. Some of our people went to the tomb and found everything just as the women had said, but they did not find a body in the tomb.”

He said to them, “How dull you are, how slow of understanding! Is the message of the prophets too difficult for you to understand? Is it not written that the Christ should suffer all this, and then enter his glory?” Then starting with Moses, and going through the prophets, he explained to them everything in the Scriptures concerning himself. As they drew near the village they were heading for, Jesus made as if to go farther. But they prevailed upon him, “Stay with us, for night comes quickly. The day is now almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. When they were at table, he took the bread, said a blessing, broke it, and gave each a piece.

Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; but he vanished out of their sight. And they said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us when he was talking to us on the road and explaining the Scriptures?” They immediately set out and returned to Jerusalem. There, they found the Eleven and their companions gathered together. They were greeted by these words: “Yes, it is true, the Lord is risen! He has appeared to Simon!” Then the two told what had happened on the road to Emmaus, and how Jesus had made himself known, when he broke bread with them.

There are many journeys we undertake in this lifetime. Some demand that we do it alone but if there is an opportunity, it is always good to have a companion nearby to share the adventure. But in reality, we are never alone in this life, Jesus always journeys with us in a guise. It is only a matter of discovering His hidden identity in the many people and events that come our way. Discovering His hidden presence demands awareness and attentiveness in the now. We do not allow the ghost of the past and the fears of the future to drown our sense of wonder at the present.

With this, we will hopefully arrive at the heavenly Jerusalem to meet the Lord who is truly risen. There are people now who are in difficult journeys of their life. Some of them might be close to us. Why not walk with them for a while and lend a helping hand by way of presence. Let us also pause and pray for those whom we could not accompany and entrust them to the loving companionship of the Lord who comes and walks with us in disguise.

April 27th

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 Nazorean, 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.”

More and more people are now looking for Jesus. The miraculous signs He did must have picked the curiosity of some while others genuinely believed. So it is a mixed lot that came looking for Jesus. Resources are now mobilized to get to know this new Teacher who is causing such a sensation never before known in the land of Israel. Bigger boats are now employed.

People are willing to put their money on someone that will give them hope. But Jesus knew that most of them were looking for a quick fix to their problems. The bread that satisfied them worked only to address their physical needs. Jesus invited them to a better and lasting solution to their problems. They had to believe in Him as the One sent by the Father so that His word and work would shape them to a kind of life worthy of eternity.

April 28th

St. Peter Chanel
St. Louis Grignion de Montfort

1st Reading: Acts 7:51—8:1a:
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:
They then said, “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.

As Jesus attracted a large amount of attention, not all were sold out on His credentials. There had been too many charlatans who had walked their land. So their demands on Jesus to legitimize Himself before their eyes got bigger and bigger. For instance, now they demanded miraculous signs. The many wonders the Lord had made do not impress them at all. It had to be something on their own terms and done specifically for them.

The miracle of the multiplication of the bread is something that they could dismiss with another miracle that happened in their history, the manna in the desert. But Jesus showed them the difference between the two. Whereas Moses was dependent on the power of God, Jesus was not. He was in complete possession of His own faculty to effect the miracle. And the true miracle was not the physical bread multiplied but He who is the true bread from heaven that came down to satisfy the deep seated hunger of humanity.

April 29th

St. Catherine of Siena

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.”

This is a continuation on Jesus’ discussion on the theme of bread with His listeners. This will be a long discourse perhaps because bread as staple food has an important role to play in the life of people. It also figures prominently in the life of Israel, when they were saved by God from starvation in the desert, when bread that dropped from heaven sustained their journey. But the manna they received only sustained their physical life enabling them to survive. The bread that is Jesus is of better quality because it ensures eternal life. All they have to do is believe in Him to receive this bread. It will be a long and sometimes bitter conversation between Jesus and those among whom He worked so hard to convince.

April 30th

St. Pius V

1st Reading: Acts 8:26–40:
An angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south, toward the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, the desert road.” So he set out and, it happened that, an Ethiopian was passing along that way. He was an official in charge of the treasury of the queen of the Ethiopians. He had come on pilgrimage to Jerusalem and was on his way home. He was sitting in his carriage and reading the prophet Isaiah.

The Spirit said to Philip, “Go and catch up with that carriage.” So Philip ran up and heard the man reading the prophet Isaiah; and he asked, “Do you really understand what you are reading?” The Ethiopian replied, “How can I, unless someone explains it to me?” He then invited Philip to get in and sit beside him.

This was the passage of Scripture he was reading: He was led like a sheep to be slaughtered; like a lamb that is dumb before the shearer, he did not open his mouth. He was humbled and deprived of his rights. Who can speak of his descendants? For he was uprooted from the earth. The official asked Philip, “Tell me, please, does the prophet speak of himself or of someone else?” Then Philip began to tell him the Good News of Jesus, using this text of Scripture as his starting point. As they traveled down the road, they came to a place where there was some water.

Then the Ethiopian official said, “Look, here is water; what is to keep me from being baptized?” Then he ordered the carriage to stop. Both Philip and the Ethiopian went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord took Philip away. The Ethiopian saw him no more, but he continued on his way full of joy. Philip found himself at Azotus; and he went about, announcing the Good News in all the towns, until he reached Caesarea.

Gospel: Jn 6:44–51:
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 from heaven, so that you may eat of it, and not die. I am the living bread 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.”

Now Jesus ramps up the rhetoric. He says that only those whom the Father draws to Him will come and follow Him. In short those who would reject Him had been rejected beforehand by the Father. This explains their inability to believe and accept His word. This must have soured the peoples’ feelings toward Him. After all, the Jews had always prided themselves to be the chosen people, the apple of God’s eye. Jesus even further rubbed salt to their wounded feelings when He declared that He is the true bread that came down from heaven that is far superior to the bread that their ancestors ate in the desert. That day, these words would cement enmity between Him and some of the Jews.

May 1st

St. Joseph the Worker

1st Reading: Acts 9:1–20:
Meanwhile, Saul considered nothing but violence and death for the disciples of the Lord. He went to the High Priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues of Damascus that would authorize him to arrest, and bring to Jerusalem, anyone he might find, man or woman, belonging to the Way. As he traveled along and was approaching 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 do you persecute me?”

And he asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The voice replied, “I am Jesus, whom you persecute. Now, get up, and go into the city; there, you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood there speechless: they had heard the sound, but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground and, opening his eyes, he could not see. They took him by the hand and brought him to Damascus. He was blind; and he did not eat or drink for three days.

There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, to whom the Lord called in a vision, “Ananias!” He answered, “Here I am, Lord!” Then the Lord said to him, “Go, at once, to Straight Street and ask, at the house of Judas, for a man of Tarsus named Saul. You will find him praying, for he has just seen in a vision that a man named Ananias has come in and placed his hands upon him, to restore his sight.” Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; and now, he is here, with authority from the High Priest, to arrest all who call upon your name.”

But the Lord said to him, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument, to bring my name to the pagan nations and their kings, and the people of Israel as well. I, myself, will show him how much he will have to suffer for my name.” So Ananias left and went to the house. He laid his hands upon Saul and said, “Saul, my brother, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me to you, so that you may receive your sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from his eyes and he could see; he got up and was baptized. Then he took food and was strengthened. For several days Saul stayed with the disciples at Damascus, and he soon began to proclaim in the synagogues that Jesus was 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.

Jesus’ discourse on the living bread becomes muddled as debate upon debate pile up between Him and His listeners who refuse to understand and believe. His critics have to resort now to a literal interpretation, a tactic akin to bringing the discussion which employs symbolic and creative metaphors on the empirical and material level. They could therefore conclude falsity on a claim that could not be backed up by physical and tangible proofs.

If this is the mindset of the other party, there could be no fruitful dialogue that would ensue. And so, Jesus must have appeared as strange and a little bit loose in the head that day for them. On the part of Jesus’ party, they would appear as hard and obstinate of heart. No meaningful communication would follow afterwards; instead polemics would ensue throughout between them.

May 2nd

St. Athanasius

1st Reading: Acts 9:31–42:
Meanwhile, the Church had peace. It was building up throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria with eyes turned to the Lord and filled with comfort from the Holy Spirit. As Peter traveled around, he went to visit the saints who lived in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed, and had been bedridden for eight years.

Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed!” And the man got up at once. All the people living in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. There was a disciple in Joppa named Tabitha, which means Dorcas, or Gazelle. She was always doing good works and helping the poor. At that time, she fell sick and died. After having washed her body, they laid her in the upstairs room.

As Lydda is near Joppa, the disciples, on hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter went with them. On his arrival they took him upstairs to the room. All the widows crowded around him in tears, showing him the clothes that Dorcas had made while she was with them. Peter made them all leave the room and then he knelt down and prayed. Turning to the dead body he said, “Tabitha, stand up.” She opened her eyes, looked at Peter and sat up. Peter gave her his hand and helped her up. Then he called in the saints and widows and presented her to them alive. This became known throughout all of Joppa and many people believed in the Lord because of it. So Peter went with them.

On his arrival, they took him upstairs to the room. All the widows crowded around him in tears, showing him the clothes that Dorcas had made while she was with them. Peter made them all leave the room; and then, he knelt down and prayed. Turning to the dead body, he said, “Tabitha, stand up.” She opened her eyes, looked at Peter and sat up. Peter gave her his hand and helped her up. Then he called in the saints and widows, and presented her to them alive. This became known throughout all of Joppa; and many people believed in the Lord because of it.

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.”

Because of this, even some of the followers of Jesus would get confused. Caught between the emotionally charged conversations, some would loose their balance and perspectives. The teachings they heard from the Lord even in secret would not be enough to save their faith in their Teacher and Master. This led to an exodus of followers; their confusion and lack of understanding was greater than their faith in Him whom they followed for a time. Such sad partings happen even in the tightest group or organization. You retain some, you lose some. Jesus will experience being abandoned several times over by those whom He called friends. This training must have toughened Him to face the horrors of His Passion.