Bible Diary for April 4th – 10th

April 4th

Easter Sunday, the Resurrection of the Lord

1st Reading: Acts 10:34a, 37–43:
Peter then spoke to them, “Truly, I realize that God does not show partiality. No doubt you have heard of the event that occurred throughout the whole country of the Jews, beginning from Galilee, after the baptism John preached. You know how God anointed Jesus the Nazarean with Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all who were under the devil’s power, because God was with him; we are witnesses of all that he did throughout the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem itself. Yet they put him to death by hanging him on a wooden cross.

“But God raised him to life on the third day andlet him manifest himself, not to all the people, butto the witnesses that were chosen beforehand byGod—to us who ate and drank with him after hisresurrection from death. And he commanded us topreach to the people and to bear witness that he isthe one appointed by God to judge the living andthe dead. All the prophets say of him, that everyonewho believes in him has forgiveness of sins throughhis Name.”

2nd Reading: Col 3:1–4:
So then, if you are risen with Christ, seek thethings that are above, where Christ is seated at theright hand of God. Set your mind on the things thatare above, not on earthly things. For you have diedand your life is now hidden with Christ in God. WhenChrist, who is your life, reveals himself, you also willbe revealed with him in glory.

Gospel: Jn 20: 1-9:
Now, on the first day after theSabbath, Mary of Magdala came to thetomb early in the morning while it wasstill dark, and she saw that the stoneblocking the tomb had been movedaway. She ran to Peter, and the otherdisciple whom Jesus loved, and she saidto them, “They have taken the Lord outof the tomb and we don’t know wherethey have laid him.”Peter then set out with the otherdisciple to go to the tomb. They rantogether, but the other disciple outranPeter and reached the tomb first.

Hebent down and saw the linen clothslying flat, but he did not enter.Then Simon Peter came, followinghim, and entered the tomb; he, too, sawthe linen cloths lying flat. The napkin,which had been around his head, wasnot lying flat like the other linen cloths,but lay rolled up in its place. Then theother disciple, who had reached thetomb first, also went in; he saw andbelieved. Scripture clearly said thatJesus must rise from the dead, but theyhad not yet understood that.

Does darkness prevail over light? Does death kill life? The forces of death (lies, corruption, injustice, oppression, calumny, hate, deceit, malice, jealousy…) will never overcome life, although it may seem they get the better of it for some time. Christ shows us how to win life over death. As we often say, “There is always resurrection after death!”

So, brothers and sisters do not get tired of doing what is right. Keep your gaze on Jesus! Lord, fill my heart with the experience of your most passionate love so that when things go wrong and things may seem obscure and confusing, the light of your love will prevail. May we learn to stand up for what is right; and do things pleasing in your sight. Amen. Promote life, protect our mother earth and fight against corruption!

April 5th

St. Vincent Ferrer

1st Reading: Acts 2:14, 22–33:
On the day of Pentecost, 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.”

Gospel: Mt 28: 8–15:
In fear, yet with great joy, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary left the tomb and ran to tell the news to his disciples. Suddenly, Jesus met them on the way and said, “Rejoice!” The women approached him, embraced his feet and worshiped him. But Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid! Go and tell my brothers to set out for Galilee; there they will see me.” As the women proceeded on their way, some of the guards went into the city, and reported to the chief priests all that had happened.

The chief priests met with the elders, and decided to give the soldiers a large sum of money, with this order, “Say that his disciples came by night while you were asleep, and stole the body of Jesus. If Pilate comes to know of this, we will explain the situation and keep you out of trouble.” The soldiers accepted the money and did as they were told. This story has circulated among the Jews until this day.

The fight-flight or acute stress response occurs if a stimulus becomes a threat and produces physiological changes, such as fear. Humans and animals react to threats with a general discharge of the sympathetic nervous system in preparation for fighting or fleeing. Adam and Eve fled out of fear and shame after they sinned. After the crucifixion, the followers of Jesus hid out of fear. They did not know if they are next. Their fear was rattled further by doubt, if he’s truly the Messiah.

The guards were fearful too. They could be tried for dereliction of duties. Jesus’ message as always is, “Do not be afraid!” It was the same message delivered to Bethlehem’s shepherds. “Do not be afraid.” The same message has been heard both in the Old and New Testament. Why? A Child, Son of the Most High, is born for you and with you today. He is the Emmanuel, God-is-with-us. If God is with us who can be against us? “For good times and bad times, I’ll be on your side forever more.” (That’s What Friends Are). God is forever with us at all times and in all places. No need to be afraid anymore!

April 6th

1st Reading: Acts 2:36–41:
Peter said to the Jewish people, “Let Israel thenknow for sure that God has made Lord and Christthis Jesus whom you crucified.”When they heard this, they were deeply troubled.And they asked Peter and the other apostles, “Whatshall we do, brothers?”Peter answered: “Each of you must repent and bebaptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that yoursins may be forgiven. Then you will receive the giftof the Holy Spirit. For the promise of God was madeto you and your children, and to all those from afarwhom our God may call.”With many other words Peter gave the messageand appealed to them saying, “Save yourselves fromthis crooked generation.” So those who accepted hisword were baptized; some three thousand personswere added to their number that day.

Gospel: Jn 20:11–18:
Mary stood weeping outside the tomb; and as she wept, she bent down to look inside. She saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head, and the other at the feet. They said, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She answered, “Because they have taken my Lord and I don’t know where they have put him.” As she said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not recognize him. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?”

She thought it was the gardener and answered him, “Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned, and said to him, “Rabboni!”—which means Master. Jesus said to her, “Do not touch me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them: I am ascending to my Father, who is your Father, to my God, who is your God.” So Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord, and this is what he said to me.”

Ancient Jewish women, though considered equal to men, had limited privileges. “Women should remain silent in the churches … as the law says.” (1 Cor 14:34–35) In modern times, women were discouraged from serving as synagogue presidents and performing roles traditionally and exclusively done by men. (Rabbi J. B. Soloveitchik) A woman who perseveringly sought Jesus was the first one to report that he had risen. Just as death came through a woman, there is life through a virgin. A woman saw first Jesus in a garden, a woman lost God in Eden. (Augustine,Sermon 232, # 1; Sermon 229L, # 1)

Why did Jesus tell her, Noli Me Tangere? Mary saw Jesus’ humanity only. Her faith must go beyond that. He’s divine too. He told her, “Do not touch me: so as to believe that I am only a man. Don’t by touching earth, lose heaven; don’t by remaining with me as man, fail to believe I am God.” (Augustine, Sermon 244, 3) Jesus as human understands our cross and as divine helps us to carry it. Let our feet touch the earth, but always gaze upward to heaven.

April 7th

St. John Baptist de la Salle

1st Reading: Acts 3:1-10:
Peter and John were going up to the temple area for the three o’clock hour of prayer. And a man crippled from birth was carried and placed at the gate of the temple called “the Beautiful Gate” every day  to beg for alms from the people who entered the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms. But Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” He paid attention to them, expecting to receive something from them. Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk.”

Then Peter took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles grew strong. He leaped up, stood, and walked around, and went into the temple with them, walking and jumping and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the one who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, and they were filled with amazement and astonishment at what had happened to him.

Gospel: Lk 24:13-35:
That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?”

And he replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his Body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive.

Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures. As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the Eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

The life of the two disciples was overshadowed by a cloud of brokenness. Their dream of a “liberating” Messiah was shattered and hope was dashed. Their eyes fogged by tears were downcast. When a person is sad, everything and everyone look lifeless. The trees look bare. The sky is dark. Stay with us. Mane nobiscum. It was an eye opener. Because the disciples treated the “stranger” not with hostility (Lat. hostis, enemy) but with hospitality, they were rewarded with grace of enlightenment. The great Odysseus respects and treats unknown strangers like gods, according to Greek custom, because strangers might be gods in disguise.

“Men always talk about the most important things to total strangers. It is because in the total stranger we perceive man himself; the image of God is not disguised by resemblances to an uncle or doubts of the wisdom of a moustache.” (G. K. Chesterton, The Club of Queer Trades. The Noticeable Conduct of Professor Chadd) The two disciples were not only hospitable, but they did not also close their heart to God, thus, they saw the Light. Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem—“ Out of shadows and phantasms into Truth.” (J. H. Cardinal Newman)

April 8th

1st Reading: Acts 3:11–26:
As the crippled man who had been cured clung to Peter and John, all the people hurried in amazement toward them in the portico called “Solomon’s Portico.” When Peter saw this, he addressed the people, “You children of Israel, why are you amazed at this, and why do you look so intently at us as if we had made him walk by our own power or piety? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus whom you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence, when he had decided to release him. You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you.

“The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses. And by faith in his name, this man, whom you see and know, his name has made strong, and the faith that comes through it has given him this perfect health, in the presence of all of you. Now I know, brothers and sisters, that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did; but God has thus brought to fulfillment what he had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer.

“Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away, and that the Lord may grant you times of refreshment and send you the Christ already appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the times of universal restoration of which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.

“For Moses said: A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you from among your own kin; to him you shall listen in all that he may say to you. Everyone who does not listen to that prophet will be cut off from the people. “Moreover, all the prophets who spoke, from Samuel and those afterwards, also announced these days. You are the children of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your ancestors when he said to Abraham, in your offspring all the families of the earth shall be blessed. For you first, God raised up his servant and sent him to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways.”

Gospel: Lk 24:35–48:
Then 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.

Jesus healed many miraculously by touch: a leper, Peter’s mother-in-law, a deaf, a blind, the woman with a discharge of blood, the twelve year old girl, the stooped woman, and the servant of the high priest in the garden of Gethsemane Shakespeare famously referred to a “mind’s eye,” but scientists at USC have found out a “mind’s touch.” They discovered that when looking at an object, the brain not only processes what the object looks like, but remembers what it feels like to touch it.

This connection is so strong that a computer examining data coming only from the part of your brain that processes touch can predict which object you are actually looking at. (R. Perkins, USC) The disciples needed to see and touch Jesus’ side in order to believe. Their faith was terribly shaken. A woman touched the hem of Jesus’ garment and was healed. In contrast with the disciples, she had faith and needed to manifest it. “Faith is a knowledge within the heart, beyond the reach of proof.” (Khalil Gibran) “In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don’t.” (B. Pascal’s Introduction, Pensees)

April 9th

1st Reading: Acts 4:1-12:
After the crippled man had been cured, while Peter and John were still speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple guard, and the Sadducees confronted them, disturbed that they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They laid hands on Peter and John and put them in custody until the next day, since it was already evening. But many of those who heard the word came to believe and the number of men grew to about five thousand. On the next day, their leaders, elders, and scribes were assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly class.

They brought them into their presence and questioned them, “By what power or by what name have you done this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, answered them, “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.”

Gospel: Jn 21:1–14:
Jesus revealed himself to the disciples by the Lake of Tiberias. He appeared to them in this way: Simon Peter, Thomas who was called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two other disciples were together; and Simon Peter said to them, “I’m going fishing.” They replied, “We will come with you.” And they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When the sun came up, Jesus was standing on the shore, but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus called out, “Friends, have you anything to eat?” They answered, “Nothing.” Then he said to them, “Throw the net on the right side of the boat and you will find something.”

When they had lowered the net, they were not able to pull it in because of the great number of fish. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” At these words, “It’s the Lord!” Simon Peter put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and jumped into the water. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish; they were not far from land, about a hundred meters. When they landed, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught.”

So Simon Peter climbed into the boat and pulled the net to shore. It was full of big fish—one hundred and fifty-three—but, in spite of this, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” And not one of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” for they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and he did the same with the fish. This was the third time that Jesus revealed himself to his disciples after rising from the dead.

“When Christ at a symbolic moment was establishing His great society, He chose for its cornerstone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward – in a word, a man … But this one thing, the historic Christian Church, was founded on a weak man, and for that reason it is indestructible. For no chain is stronger than its weakest link.” (G. K. Chesterton, Heretics, 1905, pp. 60-1) God qualifies the one he calls! Most of the apostles were simple, ordinary and unlearned but seasoned fishermen from Galilee.

Judas Iscariot was from Judea. Galileans were courageous, quick-tempered and ready to follow a charismatic leader. Jesus moved from Nazareth and started his ministry in Galilee. There are two accounts of miraculous catch of fish: 1) the occasion for the call of Peter, James and John; 2) the postresurrection event. In both events, though the apostles were experienced fishermen, they obeyed Jesus’ command and a miracle took place. “Only he who believes is obedient.” (D. Bonhoeffer) Only the humble is fit to follow the Lord. The humbler one becomes, the higher he goes up. When climbing up the stairs, we look down watching the steps.

April 10th

1st Reading: Acts 4:13–21:
They were astonished at the boldness of Peter and John, considering that they were uneducated and untrained men. They recognized, also, that they had been with Jesus, but, as the man who had been cured stood beside them, they could make no reply. So they ordered them to leave the council room while they consulted with one another. They asked, “What shall we do with these men? Everyone who lives in Jerusalem knows that a remarkable sign has been given through them, and we cannot deny it.

But to stop this from spreading any further among the people, let us warn them never again to speak to anyone in the name of Jesus.” So they called them back and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s eyes for us to obey you rather than God. We cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Then the council threatened them once more and let them go. They could find no way of punishing them because of the people who glorified God for what had happened.

Gospel: Mk 16:9–15:
After Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary of Magdala, from whom he had driven out seven demons. She went and reported the news to his followers, who were now mourning and weeping. But when they heard that he lived, and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. After this he showed himself in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country.

These men also went back and told the others, but they did not believe them. Later Jesus showed himself to the Eleven while they were at table. He reproached them for their unbelief, and hardness of heart, in refusing to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. Then he told them, “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation.”

Christopher was a gifted man with many physical qualities, such as power and a kind heart. He was an agnostic. For him, the only reality was what he could physically see, feel and touch. Yet, he was kind and served others through his ferryboat. During a severe storm, the ferryboat capsized and Christopher dove into the raging waters to rescue a young child. Once on the shore, he looked at the child and saw the face of Christ. He was gifted with faith, for he had seen the face of Christ. (R. Rolheiser Living Beyond Doubt, 1997-11-12)

“Rise and rise again until lambs become lions.” (Robin Hood) Don’t give up until the ordinary turns extraordinary. God could be found if one doesn’t stop loving his neighbor. “I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see. I sought my God, but he eluded me. I sought my brother, and I found all three.” (Wm. Blake) “When you are called from your prayers or the Eucharistic celebration to serve the poor, you lose nothing, since to serve the poor is to go to God. You must see God in the faces of the poor.” (Vincent de Paul)