Bible Diary for May 10th -16th

May 10th

St. Damien de Veuster

1st Reading: Acts 6:1–7:
In those days, as the number of disciples grew, the so-called Hellenists complained against the so-called Hebrews, because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. So the Twelve summoned the whole body of disciples together, and said, “It is not right, that we should neglect the word of God to serve at tables. So, friends, choose from among yourselves seven respected men, full of Spirit and wisdom, that we may appoint them to this task. As for us, we shall give ourselves to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.”

The whole community agreed; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit; Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenus and Nicolaus of Antioch, who was a proselyte. They presented these men to the apostles, who, first prayed over them, and then, laid hands upon them. The word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly; and even many priests accepted the faith.

2nd Reading: 1 PT 2:4–9:
He is the living stone, rejected by people, but chosen by God, and precious to him; set yourselves close to him, so that, you, too, become living stones, built into a spiritual temple, a holy community of priests, offering spiritual sacrifices that please God, through Jesus Christ. Scripture says: See, I lay in Zion a chosen and precious cornerstone; whoever believes in him will not be disappointed.

This means honor, for you who believed, but for unbelievers, also the stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone and it is a stone to stumble over, a rock which lays people low. They stumble over it, in rejecting the word, but the plan of God is fulfilled in this. You are a chosen race, a community of priest-kings, a consecrated nation, a people God has made his own, to proclaim his wonders. For he called you, from your darkness, to his own wonderful light.

Gospel: Jn 14:1–12:
“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. 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.

Many of us cannot help worrying about the future. Time sometimes terrorizes us. But with Jesus, time ceases to intimidate because He promises a glorious future for those who believe. It is only a matter of attitude on our part whether we hold firmly to this promise or doubt it. In the end, it is we who are the author of the misery or the joy of our living. Some people might attack our Christian optimism accusing us of clinging to an illusion or false hope, but what have they as an alternative? Their claim to an alternative meaningful life still demands an act of faith on those who follow it.

And so between the two messiahs or multiple messiahs that present different visions of life, whom do we choose? May our faith be strong enough to believe that Jesus’ vision for us is the best portion among the lot. Making an act of faith in Jesus tends to be mechanical sometimes without our awareness or the full participation of our being. It would be good to pause today and make a sincere proclamation of our faith in Jesus, relishing every word, allowing it to penetrate our whole being so that we can stand for that act of faith no matter what the world will say for or against it.

May 11th

1st Reading: Acts 14:5–18:
A move was made by pagans and Jews, together with their leaders, to harm the apostles and to stone them. But Paul and Barnabas learned of this and fled to the Lycaonian towns of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding countryside, where they continued preaching the Good News. Paul and Barnabas spent a fairly long time at Lystra. There was a crippled man in Lystra who had never been able to stand or walk. One day, as he was listening to the preaching, Paul looked intently at him and saw that he had the faith to be saved.

So he said with a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And the man leaped up and began walking. When the people saw what Paul had done, they cried out in the language of Lycaonia, “The gods have come to us in human likeness!” They named Barnabas Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes, since he was the chief speaker. Even the priest of the temple of Zeus, which stood outside the town, brought oxen and garlands to the gate; together with the people, he wanted to offer sacrifice to them.

When Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their garments, to show their indignation, and rushed into the crowd, shouting, “Friends, why are you doing this? We are human beings, with the same weakness you have, and we are now telling you to turn away from these useless things, to the living God who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and all that is in them. In past generations, he allowed each nation to go its own way, though he never stopped making himself known; for he is continually doing good, giving you rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, providing you with food, and filling your hearts with gladness.” Even these words could hardly keep the crowd from offering sacrifice to them.

Gospel: Jn 14:21–26:
Whoever keeps my commandments is the one who loves me. If he loves me, he will also be loved by my Father; I too shall love him and show myself clearly to him.” Judas—not Judas Iscariot—asked Jesus, “Lord, how can it be that you will show yourself clearly to us and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word and my Father will love him; and we will come to him and live with him. But if anyone does not love me, he will not keep my words; and these words that you hear are not mine, but the Father’s who sent me. I told you all this while I am still with you. From now on the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I have told you.

The Helper, the Holy Spirit, is introduced in the gospel today. This is another assurance of Jesus that while He is gone, He will not leave His disciples orphaned. Someone from the Trinity will always be with them. Just as Jesus comes to do the will of the Father, so the Holy Spirit will teach and remind them of all that Jesus told them. In the end, we can see the teamwork and harmony within the Godhead. The Father puts His plan into operation, the Son and the Holy Spirit cooperate in perfect accord.

No one makes an initiative by Himself. The Three Persons, within the Trinity, always act in perfect harmony. It is because of this that when someone acts in the name of any of the Persons in the Godhead but it contradicts the teaching of Jesus, that is a sure sign that he or she is an impostor. For the Son only says what His Father tells Him and the Spirit reminds us of all Jesus said and taught. The Trinity cannot contradict itself.

May 12th

Sts. Nereus & Achilleus
St. Pancras

1st Reading: Acts 14:19–28:
Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and turned the people against them. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the town, leaving him for dead. But, when his disciples gathered around him, he stood up and returned to the town. And the next day, he left for Derbe with Barnabas. After proclaiming the gospel in that town and making many disciples, they returned to Lystra and Iconium, and on to Antioch. They were strengthening the disciples, and encouraging them to remain firm in the faith; for they said, “We must go through many trials to enter the kingdom of God.”

In each church they appointed elders and, after praying and fasting, they commended them to the Lord, in whom they had placed their faith. Then they traveled through Pisidia, and came to Pamphylia. They preached the word in Perga and went down to Attalia. From there, they sailed back to Antioch, where they had first been commended to God’s grace, for the task they had now completed. On their arrival, they gathered the Church together, and told them all that God had done through them, and how he had opened the door of faith to the non-Jews. They spent a fairly long time there with the disciples.

Gospel: Jn 14:27–31a:
Peace be with you! My peace I give to you; not as the world gives peace do I give it to you. Do not be troubled! Do not be afraid! You heard me say, ‘I am going away, but I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you this now before it takes place, so that when it does happen you may believe. There is very little left for me to tell you, for the prince of this world is at hand, although there is nothing in me that he can claim. But see, the world must know that I love the Father, and that I do what the Father has taught me to do. Come now, let us go.

Recently, it seems that the gospels are all about Jesus making preparations to leave behind those whom He calls friends. It is a long series of farewell. It seems that Jesus is taking too much time to say His goodbyes. For isn’t it that the more intimate we are with one another, the harder the separation will be. Jesus experienced this very human feeling of attachment.

But no matter how hard it is for Him, He remained focused on His task. The mission given Him by the Father must be done. If the price is the pain of separation from those He called His own, He is willing to pay the price. But meanwhile, He will try to comfort His friends. It is them and their good that will preoccupy Him throughout. He will always love them till the very end.

May 13th

Our Lady of Fatima

1st Reading: Acts 15:1–6:
Some persons, who had come from Judea to Antioch, were teaching the brothers in this way, “Unless you are circumcised, according to the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Because of this, there was trouble; and Paul and Barnabas had fierce arguments with them. For Paul told the people to remain as they were, when they became believers. Finally, those who had come from Jerusalem suggested that Paul and Barnabas and some others go up to Jerusalem, to discuss the matter with the apostles and elders.

They were sent on their way by the Church. As they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria they reported how the non-Jews had turned to God; and there was great joy among all the brothers and sisters. On their arrival in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the Church, the apostles and the elders, to whom they told all that God had done through them. Some believers, however, who belonged to the party of the Pharisees, stood up and said, that non-Jewish men must be circumcised and instructed to keep the law of Moses. 6 So the apostles and elders met together to consider this matter.

Gospel: Jn 15:1–8:
I am the true vine and my Father is the vine grower. If any of my branches doesn’t bear fruit, he breaks it off; and he prunes every branch that does bear fruit, that it may bear even more fruit. You are already made clean by the word I have spoken to you. Live in me as I live in you. The branch cannot bear fruit by itself, but has to remain part of the vine; so neither can you, if you don’t remain in me. I am the vine and you are the branches.

As long as you remain in me and I in you, you bear much fruit; but apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not remain in me is thrown away, as they do with branches, and they wither. Then they are gathered and thrown into the fi re and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask whatever you want, and it will be given to you. My Father is glorified when you bear much fruit: it is then that you become my disciples.

Intimacy with Jesus is the source of fruitfulness in our life and work. There is no other way, for to graft ourselves onto Jesus means that His tremendous power and creativity is there at our disposal. We will count not only on our own strengths and capacities; Jesus Himself will work with us. The vine, being Jesus, and we, as the branches are a beautiful image of how we are supposed to remain with one another.

It also gives a beautiful example of how Jesus allows us authorship of good works in this world while He remains hidden in the center, supporting our initiatives and guiding our works toward completion. After all, vines tend to be covered by the luxuriant branches hiding it from view. May we always remain in Him who keeps us fruitful throughout.

May 14th

St. Matthias

1st Reading: Acts 1:15–17, 20–26:
It was during this time that Peter stood up in the midst of the community—about one hundred and twenty in all—and he said, “Brothers, it was necessary that the Scriptures referring to Judas be fulfilled. The Holy Spirit had spoken through David about the one who would lead the crowd coming to arrest Jesus. He was one of our number and had been called to share our common ministry. In the Book of Psalms it is written: Let his house become deserted and may no one live in it. But it is also written: May another take his office.

Therefore, we must choose someone from among those who were with us during all the time that the Lord Jesus moved about with us, beginning with John’s baptism until the day when Jesus was taken away from us. One of these has to become, with us, a witness to his resurrection.” Then they proposed two: Joseph, called Barsabbas, also known as Justus, and Matthias. They prayed: “You know, Lord, what is in the hearts of all. Show us, therefore, which of the two you have chosen to replace Judas in this apostolic ministry which he deserted to go to the place he deserved.” Then they drew lots between the two and the choice fell on Matthias who was added to the eleven apostles.

Gospel: Jn 15:9–17:
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love! You will remain in my love if you keep my commandments, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you all this, that my own joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: Love one another as I have loved you! There is no greater love than this, to give one’s life for one’s friends; and you are my friends, if you do what I command you.

I shall not call you servants any more, because servants do not know what their master is about. Instead, I have called you friends, since I have made known to you everything I learned from my Father. You did not choose me; it was I who chose you and sent you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. And everything you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. This is my command, that you love one another.

Keeping the commandments of the one who loves us should be a breeze. We are assured that whatever He wills for us is for our own good, no matter how much it will discomfort us, or go contrary to our own wishes and desires. We are at least assured that it comes from a heart whose only concern is our good. This is probably why Jesus calls us friends instead of servants. For a friend is never commanded to do things. Only servants are commanded to blind obedience. As friends we know where the command of Jesus comes from. It comes from a loving heart who desires our very own good more than we do. This is the motivation for our joy. That is why we can follow without regret.

May 15th

St. Isidore the Farmer

1st Reading: Acts 15:22–31:
Then the apostles and elders, together with the whole Church, decided to choose representatives from among them, to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. These were Judas, known as Barsabbas, and Silas, both leading men among the brothers. They took with them the following letter: “Greetings from the apostles and elders, your brothers, to the believers of non-Jewish birth in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. We have heard, that some persons from among us have worried you with their discussions, and troubled your peace of mind. They were not appointed by us.

But now, it has seemed right to us, in an assembly, to choose representatives, and to send them to you, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have dedicated their lives to the service of our Lord Jesus Christ. We send you, then, Judas and Silas, who, themselves, will give you these instructions by word of mouth. We, with the Holy Spirit, have decided not to put any other burden on you except what is necessary: You are to abstain from blood; from the meat of strangled animals; and from prohibited marriages. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” After saying goodbye, the messengers went to Antioch, where they assembled the community and handed them the letter. When they read the news, all were delighted with the encouragement it gave them.

Gospel: Jn 15:12–17:
This is my commandment: Love one another as I have loved you! There is no greater love than this, to give one’s life for one’s friends; and you are my friends, if you do what I command you. I shall not call you servants any more, because servants do not know what their master is about. Instead, I have called you friends, since I have made known to you everything I learned from my Father. You did not choose me; it was I who chose you and sent you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. And everything you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. This is my command, that you love one another.

And now, the rule to end all rules is given to the disciples. The commandment to love will be the supreme rule throughout their lives. After more than two thousand years, how has the community that Jesus started and still exists fare against this commandment to love? Have we understood what Jesus meant, or are we still grappling our way towards love that allows us to risk and even give our lives for our friends? The world has changed since then, but the rule remains valid even now. We need heroes of love who will show us how to do it. Is there anyone of us courageous enough to heed the commandment uttered a long time ago but still awaiting realization?

May 16th

1st Reading: Acts 16:1–10:
Paul traveled on, to Derbeand then to Lystra. A disciple named Timothy lived there, whose mother was a believer of Jewish origin but whose father was a Greek. As the believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him, Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him. So he took him and, because of the Jews of that place, who all knew that his father was a Greek, he circumcised him. As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions of the apostles and elders in Jerusalem, for the people to obey. Meanwhile, the churches grew stronger in faith, and increased in number, every day.

They traveled through Phrygia and Galatia, because they had been prevented by the Holy Spirit from preaching the message in the province of Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go on to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to do this. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. There, one night, Paul had a vision. A Macedonian stood before him and begged him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” When he awoke, he told us of this vision; and we understood that the Lord was calling us, to give the Good News to the Macedonian people.

Gospel: Jn 15:18–21:
If the world hates you, remember that the world hated me before you. This would not be so if you belonged to the world, because the world loves its own. But you are not of the world, since I have chosen you from the world; because of this the world hates you. Remember what I told you: the servant is not greater than his master; if they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will keep yours as well. All this they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know the One who sent me.

Outsiders will always feel this sense of alienation, of not being accepted in a group as long as he or she does not conform to the culture of the group in question. This is the feeling of Jesus relative to the world. He paid so much to be “in the group” by leaving behind His divine estate and pitch His tent among us. Still He was not accepted by the world. His message is too hard to bear.

Thus if He, the Master and Teacher is an outsider, all those who follow Him will always feel this sense of not belonging to the world. This is probably one of the reasons why Jesus spent so much time preparing His disciples before He left. Hard times will be their lot ahead. Until the very end, Jesus never thought of Himself and His good. His thoughts remained throughout with those He loved as an example of a love that does not measure.