Bible Diary for May 14th – May 20th
6th Sunday of Easter
1st Reading: Acts 8:5-8, 14-17:
Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ to them. With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing. For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice, came out of many possessed people, and many paralyzed or crippled people were cured. There was great joy in that city. Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who went down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for it had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.
2nd Reading: 1 Pt 3:15-18:
Beloved: Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the Spirit.
Gospel: Jn 14:15-21:
Jesus said to his disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him. But you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”
The last words we speak to our love ones before departing are usually words of tenderness, counsels and assurances. In this regard Jesus is no different from us. His humanity fully shines despite His transformation in the Resurrection. He still remains the Son of God and the Son of Mary. What is surprising is the seeming reluctance of the Lord to part ways with His own friends. This human sentiment shining through His divinity assures us that from that time onwards, one of the Trinity can understand intimately how it is to be human.
God has been inexorably linked to humanity. The world can rest in peace. There is someone like us and representing us in the Godhead. Jesus reminds us that our love for Him is shown in our obedience to His command. He has two which can be collapsed into one, that is, “love God and neighbor,” or the double law of love. Have I really loved God and neighbor or do I prefer to love one over the other? It would be good to examine our following of the Lord today and evaluate it according to the standards of the command to love.
St. Isidore the Farmer
1st Reading: Acts 16:11-15:
We set sail from Troas, making a straight run for Samothrace, and on the next day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, a leading city in that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We spent some time in that city. On the sabbath we went outside the city gate along the river where we thought there would be a place of prayer. We sat and spoke with the women who had gathered there. One of them, a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth, from the city of Thyatira, a worshiper of God, listened, and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying. After she and her household had been baptized, she offered us an invitation, “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my home,” and she prevailed on us.
Gospel: Jn 15:26-16:4a:
Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning. “I have told you this so that you may not fall away. They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God. They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me. I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you.”
Jesus now discloses the fate that awaits those who will persevere in following Him once He is gone. He never gives false hopes and promises to His own. He will strengthen and prepare them for the trials ahead but they will know what is in store for them if they remain faithful to His teachings. The only assurance He gives is that they will never be abandoned. The Holy Spirit will be with them as co-witnesses for Jesus in this world.
Coming from others, these words meant to console would sound hollow and empty. But on the lips of Jesus, they have the backing and guarantee of His words and actions that have never been known to be false. His integrity guarantees that what He says is true. These words probably were the source of strength for those who remained faithful even at the foot of the cross. These will also give those who gave in to momentary fear and cowardice the courage to regroup, to believe once again and to continue the cause that Jesus had left in their hands.
1st Reading: Acts 16:22-34:
The crowd in Philippi joined in the attack on Paul and Silas, and the magistrates had them stripped and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After inflicting many blows on them, they threw them into prison and instructed the jailer to guard them securely. When he received these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and secured their feet to a stake. About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened, there was suddenly such a severe earthquake that the foundations of the jail shook; all the doors flew open, and the chains of all were pulled loose.
When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, thinking that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted out in a loud voice, “Do no harm to yourself; we are all here.” He asked for a light and rushed in and, trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your household will be saved.” So they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to everyone in his house. He took them in at that hour of the night and bathed their wounds; then he and all his family were baptized at once. He brought them up into his house and provided a meal and with his household rejoiced at having come to faith in God.
Gospel: Jn 16:5-11:
Jesus said to his disciples: “Now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me; righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.”
The time for mentoring is slowly coming to an end. It is not the glory of the Teacher if His pupils remain so. They too must become teachers themselves so that what they have learned from their Master will reach a wider audience. And so Jesus consoles His own with the assurance that the Spirit, the Helper will be sent to them to help them spread the truth of Jesus. They will lose the physical presence of the Lord, but the Spirit will abide forever in their hearts to make them feel that they are never abandoned by the Master who taught and prepared them to continue the mission once He is gone.
1st Reading: Acts 17:15, 22-18:1:
After Paul’s escorts had taken him to Athens, they came away with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible. Then Paul stood up at the Areopagus and said: “You Athenians, I see that in every respect you are very religious. For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.’ What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything. Rather it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything.
He made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions, so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being,’ as even some of your poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’ Since therefore we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the divinity is like an image fashioned from gold, silver, or stone by human art and imagination.
God has overlooked the times of ignorance, but now he demands that all people everywhere repent because he has established a day on which he will ‘judge the world with justice’ through a man he has appointed, and he has provided confirmation for all by raising him from the dead.” When they heard about resurrection of the dead, some began to scoff, but others said, “We should like to hear you on this some other time.” And so Paul left them. But some did join him, and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the Court of the Areopagus, a woman named Damaris, and others with them. After this he left Athens and went to Corinth.
Gospel: Jn 16:12-15:
Jesus said to his disciples: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”
Here Jesus affirms again His commitment not to leave His own orphaned and uncertain. He promises to send the Holy Spirit who will lead them into the whole truth. But the Holy Spirit will not reveal something new that Jesus has not told His disciples before. The Spirit will simply take what is Jesus’ truth and give it to the disciples, deepen it and make it part of their consciousness so that they too will have the mind of Jesus. The Spirit therefore will guarantee that the disciples will never forget. Our memories will be safeguarded by the Spirit lest we misrepresent the truth of our Lord.
St. John I
1st Reading: Acts 18:1-8:
Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. He went to visit them and, because he practiced the same trade, stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. Every sabbath, he entered into discussions in the synagogue, attempting to convince both Jews and Greeks.
When Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began to occupy himself totally with preaching the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. When they opposed him and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your heads! I am clear of responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” So he left there and went to a house belonging to a man named Titus Justus, a worshiper of God; his house was next to a synagogue. Crispus, the synagogue official, came to believe in the Lord along with his entire household, and many of the Corinthians who heard believed and were baptized.
Gospel: Jn 16:16-20:
Jesus said to his disciples: “A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me.” So some of his disciples said to one another, “What does this mean that he is saying to us, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” So they said, “What is this ‘little while’ of which he speaks? We do not know what he means.” Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Are you discussing with one another what I said, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.”
Sorrow and joy come together. They deepen the meaning of each other because of the contrast in experience they afford one another. And the going away of Jesus will give the disciples such contrast. When Jesus will be torn violently from them by death, their sorrow will plumb the depths of despair and hopelessness. Only their memory of His words and teachings and their faith in Him will support them in this time of trial. Only their love for Him will make them strong. But this faith and love will be vindicated when Jesus will rise triumphant from death and return to them. Their joy will know no bounds. Jesus is true to His words. Doubts will cease. The liberating feeling of having placed their faith in someone who is truthful and worthy of belief will comfort them throughout their lives.
1st Reading: Acts 18:9-18:
One night while Paul was in Corinth, the Lord said to him in a vision, “Do not be afraid. Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you. No one will attack and harm you, for I have many people in this city.” He settled there for a year and a half and taught the word of God among them. But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews rose up together against Paul and brought him to the tribunal, saying, “This man is inducing people to worship God contrary to the law.”
When Paul was about to reply, Gallio spoke to the Jews, “If it were a matter of some crime or malicious fraud, I should with reason hear the complaint of you Jews; but since it is a question of arguments over doctrine and titles and your own law, see to it yourselves. I do not wish to be a judge of such matters.” And he drove them away from the tribunal. They all seized Sosthenes, the synagogue official, and beat him in full view of the tribunal. But none of this was of concern to Gallio. Paul remained for quite some time, and after saying farewell to the brothers he sailed for Syria, together with Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had shaved his head because he had taken a vow.
Gospel: Jn 16:20-23:
Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. On that day you will not question me about anything. Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.”
Joy that is borne out of sorrow is a transformed joy, not the exuberant, carefree happiness of spontaneous joy but a more sober, realistic and responsible joy. After all it is born of sacrifice and momentary pain. It knows how to relish the present because it faced squarely the sadness of the past. Jesus invites His disciples to such joy. He tries to console them from their mourning by pointing to a gloriously joyful future ahead. And once they have it, joy can never be taken away from them. The night of weeping will cease. If they have passed this path already, there is no other direction except to happiness that lasts forever with Jesus.
St. Bernardine of Siena
1st Reading: Acts 18:23-28:
After staying in Antioch some time, Paul left and traveled in orderly sequence through the Galatian country and Phrygia, bringing strength to all the disciples. A Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, an eloquent speaker, arrived in Ephesus. He was an authority on the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the Way of the Lord and, with ardent spirit, spoke and taught accurately about Jesus, although he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the Way of God more accurately. And when he wanted to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. After his arrival he gave great assistance to those who had come to believe through grace. He vigorously refuted the Jews in public, establishing from the Scriptures that the Christ is Jesus.
Gospel: Jn 16:23b-28:
Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. “I have told you this in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures but I will tell you clearly about the Father. On that day you will ask in my name, and I do not tell you that I will ask the Father for you. For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have come to believe that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world. Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”
In Christianity, hesychasm is the process of going inwardly to the center of our being and past the senses, in order to achieve the mysterious experience of God. Hesychia is related to theoria, “looking at, gazing at, being aware of.” Prayer is action; praying leads to effective action. The presence of God through his name in the human heart confers upon the soul essence of stillness, rest, quiet and silence. It’s a paradox. One prays contemplatively while working actively (ora et labora, pray and work).
Praying in the stillness of the heart makes all places and people seen in God’s light. The Way of a Pilgrim shares a person’s inner prayer and fervent communion with God. “When I prayed with my heart, everything around me seemed delightful and marvelous. The trees, the grass, the birds, the air, the light seemed to be telling me that they existed for man’s sake, that they witnessed to the love of God for man, … Thus it was that I came to understand what The Philokalia calls ‘the knowledge of the speech of all creatures’ . . . I felt a burning love for Jesus and for all God’s creatures.”