Bible Diary for April 7th – April 13th

Sunday
April 7th

2nd Sunday of Easter
St. John Baptist de la Salle

1st Reading: Acts 4:32-35:
The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.

2nd Reading: 1 Jn 5:1-6:
Beloved: Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God, and everyone who loves the Father loves also the one begotten by him. In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith. Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and blood. The Spirit is the one that testifies, and the Spirit is truth.

Gospel: Jn 20:19-31:
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

Reflection:
Sometimes, we quarrel with God and ask if God truly is risen: “Where is God in my experience of darkness? Is He just sleeping?” Our human instinct is to seek for a sign especially when we are making decisions, having problems or in doubt. But today we are being reminded that our fraternal love is the sign that would illustrate perfectly faith in the Risen Christ among unbelievers. Lord Jesus how many times did we doubt your love for us? Yet every time we doubted you, you also lifted us up, sending your emissary of goodwill, giving encouragement and enlightenment. Indeed, your inspiration enkindles the goodness deep within us that emboldens us to face problems and confusions. Thank you Lord for your constant support and love! Amen. Have time with your loved ones and share your deepest longings, concerns, difficulties or doubts at this stage of your journey.

Monday
April 8th

Annunciation of the Lord

1st Reading: Is 7:10-14; 8:10:
The Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying: Ask for a sign from the Lord, your God; let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky! But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask! I will not tempt the Lord!” Then Isaiah said: Listen, O house of David! Is it not enough for you to weary people, must you also weary my God? Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us!”

2nd Reading: Heb 10:4-10:
Brothers and sisters: It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats take away sins. For this reason, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight. Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll, behold, I come to do your will, O God.’” First he says, “Sacrifices and offerings, holocausts and sin offerings, you neither desired nor delighted in.” These are offered according to the law. Then he says, “Behold, I come to do your will.” He takes away the first to establish the second. By this “will,” we have been consecrated through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Gospel: Lk 1:26-38:
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”

But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Reflection:
Today on the Feast of the Annunciation, our focus is on the person of Mary—who she is to us, who she is to the world. To ask, “who is she,” will evoke myriads of answers, depending on our perspectives of her. Today we are invited to consider her as a person of faith, standing before us in her humanity, struggling with the daily demands of her life and the meaning of the troubling words of the angel’s greeting. Yet Mary believed God’s promises even when they seemed impossible. She was open to do God’s will, even if it seemed difficult or costly. God’s invitation is always disturbing and disruptive of our familiar routines in life. It calls us to change, to look at life with new sets of eyes and listen with new ears. Mary is showing us how to respond to God’s invitation. She is asking us to prepare our hearts for her Son and to journey with him in his mission. She invites us to participate with her in giving birth to Jesus, in raising him, in listening to him, in watching and waiting with him, in weeping and mourning for him, and in becoming his disciple.

Tuesday
April 9th

1st Reading: Acts 4:32-37:
The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the Apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the Apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need. Thus Joseph, also named by the Apostles Barnabas (which is translated “son of encouragement”), a Levite, a Cypriot by birth, sold a piece of property that he owned, then brought the money and put it at the feet of the Apostles.

Gospel: Jn 3:7b-15:
Jesus said to Nicodemus: “‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus answered and said to him, ‘How can this happen?” Jesus answered and said to him, “You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this? Amen, amen, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony. If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

Reflection:
The life of Nikos Kazantzakis, author of Zorba, the Greek, vacillated between love and rebellion against God. He wrote, “Struggle between flesh and spirit, rebellion and resistance, reconciliation and submission, and finally – the supreme purpose of the struggle – union with God: this was the ascent taken by Christ, the ascent which he invites us to take as well, following in his bloody tracks.” (R. Rolheiser, Wrestling with God, 2007-07-29) Buddhism teaches that one has to leave the mind empty of all greed, anger and delusion. Mystics had experienced and taught that suffering is one of the ways to ascent to God. Jesus had to go down to his “desert of temptations,” “Gethsemane of agony” and the “Cross of Calvary” before he could ascend to “heaven of bliss.” There is no glory without sacrifice. Unless one kisses the face of the earth, he cannot kiss the face of God. “I remained, lost in oblivion; my face I reclined on the Beloved. All ceased and I abandoned myself, Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies (St. John of the Cross).

Wednesday
April 10th

1st Reading: Acts 5:17-26:
The high priest rose up and all his companions, that is, the party of the Sadducees, and, filled with jealousy, laid hands upon the Apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night, the angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, led them out, and said, “Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.” When they heard this, they went to the temple early in the morning and taught. When the high priest and his companions arrived, they convened the Sanhedrin, the full senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the jail to have them brought in.

But the court officers who went did not find them in the prison, so they came back and reported, “We found the jail securely locked and the guards stationed outside the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” When the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard this report, they were at a loss about them, as to what this would come to. Then someone came in and reported to them, “The men whom you put in prison are in the temple area and are teaching the people.” Then the captain and the court officers went and brought them, but without force, because they were afraid of being stoned by the people.

Gospel: Jn 3:16-21:
God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.

Reflection:
Fray Luis Ponce de León translated the Song of Songs into Spanish and criticized the Vulgate. In doing so, he was apprehended, shackled and tortured in prison. After four years of tortures, now a physically deformed professor went back to his classroom. He continued his lecture where he left off and said to his class, “Como decíamos ayer” (“as we were saying yesterday”). Suffering and imprisonment did not break down his undaunted spirit. Someone who abides in love will surely encounter animosity. Yet after going through adversities, nobody is left alone to heal the wounded soul. A comforting angel will be there always as he was with Jesus in the desert and Gethsemane.

“Only after we have let the desert do its full work in us will angels finally come and minister to us.” (T. Herriot) “Bitterness imprisons life; love releases it. Bitterness paralyzes life; love empowers it. Bitterness sours life; love sweetens it. Bitterness sickens life; love heals it. Bitterness blinds life; love anoints its eyes.” (H. E. Fosdick) Even the worst prison life can never imprison love. Paradoxically, the religious authorities were “imprisoned” by hatred, the apostles, though in jail, remained free because of love.

Thursday
April 11th

St. Stanislaus

1st Reading: Acts 5:27-33:
When the court officers had brought the Apostles in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin, the high priest questioned them, “We gave you strict orders did we not, to stop teaching in that name. Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the Apostles said in reply, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. We are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.” When they heard this, they became infuriated and wanted to put them to death.

Gospel: Jn 3:31-36:
The one who comes from above is above all. The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things. But the one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy. For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God. He does not ration his gift of the Spirit. The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.

Reflection:
“Over the last few decades we have been inundated by a torrent of words … They form the floor, the walls, and the ceiling of our existence … In such a world who can maintain respect for words?… All this is to suggest that words, my own words included, have lost their creative power. Their limitless multiplication has made us lose confidence in words and caused us to think, more often than not, “They are just words.” (Henri Nouwen, The Way of The Heart) In Biblical times, people gave greater weight on words. Words spoken could not be taken back. This is evident when Jacob deceitfully stole Isaac’s words of blessing that was meant for Esau.

“Four things come not back: the spoken word, the sped arrow, the past life and the neglected opportunity.” If respect is rendered to ordinary words, there has to be greater honor when a lector proclaims, “The Word of the Lord.” We are what we receive at communion. We are what we hear at the Liturgy of the Word. An effective lector makes the Lord’s presence alive in himself/herself and in the assembly. We become the Lord’s Word that challenges and transforms the world.

Friday
April 12th

1st Reading: Acts 5:34-42:
A Pharisee in the Sanhedrin named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, respected by all the people, stood up, ordered the Apostles to be put outside for a short time, and said to the Sanhedrin, “Fellow children of Israel, be careful what you are about to do to these men. Some time ago, Theudas appeared, claiming to be someone important, and about four hundred men joined him, but he was killed, and all those who were loyal to him were disbanded and came to nothing. After him came Judas the Galilean at the time of the census. He also drew people after him, but he too perished and all who were loyal to him were scattered.

“So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.” They were persuaded by him. After recalling the Apostles, they had them flogged, ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them. So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Christ, Jesus.

Gospel: Jn 6:1-15:
Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people recline.”

Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.

Reflection:
“None are so poor that they have nothing to give and none are so rich that they have nothing to receive.” (Pope John Paul II) The little boy was poor and had a simple meal. But he was generous (Lat. gener, race, kin) with his meal and did not keep it. What makes this miracle phenomenal is the generosity of the little boy. Generosity had been originally considered a trait of an aristocrat, of noble lineage or high birth. To be generous was literally a way of saying “to belong to nobility.” It was never considered a trait of ordinary people. Children and widows were not included in the Biblical count.

They were anonymous. The boy was not of “noble birth” and not expected to be generous. The Gospel turns the world upside down. “What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” (Albert Pike) This miracle story is told again and again primarily because of what Jesus did, and secondarily what the little boy shared, especially in comparison with the weak faith and little concern of the apostles for the people’s plight.

Saturday
April 13th

St. Martin I

1st Reading: Acts 6:1-7:
As the number of disciples continued to grow, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table. Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” The proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit, also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the Apostles who prayed and laid hands on them. The word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly; even a large group of priests were becoming obedient to the faith.

Gospel: Jn 6:16-21:
When it was evening, the disciples of Jesus went down to the sea, embarked in a boat, and went across the sea to Capernaum. It had already grown dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea was stirred up because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they began to be afraid. But he said to them, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” They wanted to take him into the boat, but the boat immediately arrived at the shore to which they were heading.

Reflection:
Now that I am getting older, I made my only sister my trustee to whom my property is legally committed for my benefit, just in case I become incapacitated or unable to manage my assets. In the event of death, the beneficiary’s estate must go through probate. If the decedent leaves a will, the probate court determines if the will should be given legal effect. This trust law is needed in behalf of the beneficiary and his property. Confucius believed that rulers need weapons, food and trust. The ruler who cannot have all three must give up weapons first, then food, but never trust, because “without trust we cannot stand.”

Machiavelli disagreed. For him a ruler must be both loved and feared, but if both were not possible, then, he must be feared rather than loved. (G. Hosking) Shakespeare’s Othello is tragic because of misplaced trust and false love. Evil may win over good because evil pretends to be good. Jesus encouraged his disciples to have love not fear. If you love, you must trust me. He told them, “It is I.” Complete trust is built on true love. The apostles fully trusted the Holy Spirit, because they truly loved.