Bible Diary for May 23rd – 29th
1st Reading: Acts 2:1–11:
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. And suddenly out of the sky came a sound like a strong rushing wind and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. There appeared tongues as if of fire which parted and came to rest upon each one of them. All were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak other languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak. Staying in Jerusalem were religious Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered, all excited because each heard them speaking in his own language.
Full of amazement and wonder, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? How is it that we hear them in our own native language? Here are Parthians, Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and foreigners who accept Jewish beliefs, Cretians and Arabians; and all of us hear them proclaiming in our own language what God, the Savior, does.”
2nd Reading: 1 Cor 12:3b–7, 12–13:
No one can say, “Jesus is the Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. There is diversity of gifts, but the Spirit is the same. There is diversity of ministries, but the Lord is the same. There is diversity of works, but the same God works in all. The Spirit reveals his presence in each one with a gift that is also a service. As the body is one, having many members, and all the members, while being many, form one body, so it is with Christ. All of us, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, have been baptized in one Spirit to form one body and all of us have been given to drink from the one Spirit.
Gospel: Jn 15:26–27; 16:12–15:
Jesus said to his disciples, “From the Father, I will send you the Spirit of truth. When this Helper has come from the Father, he will be my witness, and you, too, will be my witnesses, for you have been with me from the beginning. I still have many things to tell you, but you cannot bear them now. When he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into the whole truth. For he will not speak of his own authority, but will speak what he hears, and he will tell you about the things which are to come. He will take what is mine and make it known to you; in doing this, he will glorify me. All that the Father has is mine; for this reason, I told you that the Spirit will take what is mine, and make it known to you.
What are the profounder causes of disunity in our families or communities? Envy and jealousy? What happens usually is that instead of humbly putting the good qualities at the service of others, those good qualities are being used for personal vested interests. The Spirit of Truth will guide and teach us towards communion and love. Now, am I truly contributing to the welfare of my family or am I adding to the problems of my family?
Lord Jesus, you left us physically but the Spirit of your love remains deep within us. Our present world is beset with war and conflicts; our families are prone to misunderstanding and separations. Grant us the enlightenment and wisdom we need to overcome our ill feelings towards each other and illuminate in us the brightness of your immeasurable goodness and charity. Amen. Reconsider again a reconciliation with the person or persons whom you are not in good terms for some time…Bridge the gap among conflicting groups or individuals.
Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church
Genesis 3:9-15, 20:
After Adam had eaten of the tree, the Lord God called to him and asked him, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself.” Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked? You have eaten, then, from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!” The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me—she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.” The Lord God then asked the woman, “Why did you do such a thing?” The woman answered, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.”
Then the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you shall be banned from all the animals and from all the wild creatures; On your belly shall you crawl, and dirt shall you eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” The man called his wife Eve, because she became the mother of all the living.
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.” There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.”
And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit. Now since it was preparation day, in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath, for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken and they be taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately Blood and water flowed out.
St. Bede the Venerable
St. Gregory VII
St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi
1st Reading: Sir 35:1-12:
Keeping the Law is worth many offerings. Being faithful to the commandments is like a peace offering. Returning kindness is an offering of fine flour; giving alms is a sacrifice of praise. Renouncing sin pleases the Lord, and shunning injustice is a sacrifice of atonement. Do not appear before the Lord with empty hands. The commandment requires that you bring an offering. When the offering of the righteous is burned on the altar, the fat drips down and a fragrant aroma rises to the Most High. The sacrifice of the just man pleases God and will not be forgotten.
Honor the Lord with a generous heart and do not be stingy with the first fruits of your harvest. Offer your gifts with a smiling face and when you pay your tithes do it gladly. Give to the Most High as he has given to you; give generously to the Lord according to what you have; the Lord will repay, he will reward you sevenfold. If you attempt to bribe him with gifts he will not accept them; do not rely on offerings from dishonest gain. The Lord is judge and shows no partiality.
Gospel: Mk 10:28-31:
Peter spoke up and said, “We have given up everything to follow you.” Jesus answered, “Truly, there is no one who has left house, or brothers or sisters, or father or mother, or children, or lands, for my sake and for the Gospel, who will not receive his reward. I say to you: even in the midst of persecution, he will receive a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and lands in the present time, and in the world to come eternal life. Do pay attention: many who now are the first will be last, and the last, first.”
The Durers of Nuremberg were poor and their father was hard working. Albrecht Durer, the oldest son, went to Venice, while Albert worked with his hands in the coal mines and helped his brother financially. After his graduation, Albrecht told Albert he can study now and would support him. Albert said, “Look what the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every finger have been smashed, my arthritic right hand prevents me from holding a glass to return your toast, and much less I can’t draw lines on canvas. No, brother, for me it is too late.” To honor Albert for his great sacrifice, Albrecht lovingly drew his brother’s hands with palms and fingers stretched skyward in prayer. He called his phenomenal art “Hands,” (The Praying Hands). The eyes are the soul’s windows and hands express the soul. “Dear God, I am so afraid to open my clenched fists … Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands? Please help me to gradually open my hands and to discover that I am not what I own, but what you want to give me.” (H. Nouwen, The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life)
St. Philip Neri
1st Reading: Sir 36:1, 4-5a, 10-17:
Come to our aid, O God of the universe, look upon us, show us the light of your mercies, and put all the nations in dread of you! Thus they will know, as we know, that there is no God but you, O Lord. Give new signs and work new wonders. Gather all the tribes of Jacob, that they may inherit the land as of old, Show mercy to the people called by your name; Israel, whom you named your firstborn. Take pity on your holy city, Jerusalem, your dwelling place.
Fill Zion with your majesty, your temple with your glory. Give evidence of your deeds of old; fulfill the prophecies spoken in your name, reward those who have hoped in you, and let your prophets be proved true. Hear the prayer of your servants, for you are ever gracious to your people; and lead us in the way of justice. Thus it will be known to the very ends of the earth that you are the eternal God.
Gospel: Mk 10:32–45:
The disciples were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead. The Twelve were anxious, and those who followed were afraid. Once more Jesus took the Twelve aside to tell them what was to happen to him. “You see we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be given over to the chief priests and the teachers of the Law. They will condemn him to death, and hand him over to the foreigners, who will make fun of him, spit on him, scourge him, and kill him; but three days later he will rise.” James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him, “Master, we want you to grant us what we are going to ask of you.”
And he said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They answered, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, when you come in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized in the way I am baptized?” They answered, “We can.” And Jesus told them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and you will be baptized in the way that I am baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant. It has been prepared for others.”
On hearing this, the other ten were angry with James and John. Jesus then called them to him and said, “As you know, the so-called rulers of the nations behave like tyrants, and those in authority oppress the people. But it shall not be so among you; whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you shall make himself slave of all. Think of the Son of Man, who has not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life to redeem many.”
“A body in motion stays in motion, a body at rest stays at rest,” a TV advertisement says. Jesus in today’s Gospel wants to ascend, climb up: Greek, anabainó. For him to ascend is to go down first through suffering and death. He is on his final journey to Jerusalem. His mission in obedience to his Father’s will is to reach the finish line. The disciples, however, especially the sons of Zebedee, wanted to stay put and requested a place of honor, so were the ten who did not want to be outdone. It was the same scenario with Peter who desired to stay at the mountaintop of Transfiguration.
He did not want to go down to the valley of death. Jesus used the occasion to teach his disciples that the way to glory starts with humility and death. “It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” (Francis of Assisi) Human nature always seeks the easy way out. This is not true with sanctity. “Invention is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration.” (Thomas Edison) The trip to heaven is hard and paved with crown of thorns. There is no alternative way. There is an easy way – to hell!
St. Augustine of Canterbury
1st Reading: Sir 42:15-25:
Now I shall remind you of the works of the Lord and relate what I have seen. The Lord’s works depend on his word, and creation obeys his will. The sun shines on everything and the work of the Lord is filled with his glory. Not even to his holy ones has the Lord given full knowledge of all his marvelous works. The Lord, Master of the universe, has ordained that all should stand firm in his glory. He penetrates both the depth of the abyss and the human heart and knows their secrets. For the Most High has full knowledge and ordains the signs of the heavens. He knows the past and foretells the future and reveals the traces of the world’s mysteries.
No thought escapes him, no word is hidden from him. He has ordered the marvelous works of his wisdom, from ever and forever. Nothing can be added, nothing can be taken away and he has no need of counsel. All his works are beautiful, even to the smallest spark of light. All this lives and endures forever: all is useful and obedient to his will. All things are in pairs, one opposite the other, and nothing he makes is in any way deficient. One thing emphasizes the excellence of the other; who could ever weary of admiring his glory?
Gospel: Mk 10:46-52:
As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar, Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth passing by, he began to call out, “Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me!” Many people scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he shouted all the louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man, saying, “Take heart! Get up, he is calling you!” He immediately threw aside his cloak, jumped up and went to Jesus. Then Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said, “Master, let me see again!” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way, your faith has made you well.” And immediately he could see, and he followed Jesus along the road.
Jesus was determined to get to Jerusalem to finally fulfill his mandate. The mention of Jericho means that he is nearing the final destination. Bartimaues’ faith-journey is a love story. 1) He prayed hard and trusted in God’s mercy to heal his physical blindness and strengthen his spiritual vision. 2) Jesus called him. This call is God’s breaking into the human condition. 3) Climax: Bartimaues threw aside his cloak, a symbol of readiness to follow, of complete faith and obedience. 4) After his sight was restored back, he followed Jesus all the way to Jerusalem. 5) It ended in his “own little calvary.”
It was a love story from blindness to seeing Jesus. Seeing Jesus is immolating him by one’s life. We too have our faith-journey of repentance. 1) We asked God to heal us of our spiritual blindness, of losing a vision of grace by sinning. 2) By his grace, he calls us to the right path. 3) At the confessional, through the absolution, we received the formal sacramental forgiveness. 4) However, unlike Bartimaeus, we don’t throw completely away the cloak of sin. 5) We wander from God’s love again and again. We persist in our spiritual blindness.
1st Reading: Sir 44:1, 9–13:
Let us now glorify illustrious men, the ancestors of our people. Others are not remembered and have disappeared as if they never existed. It is the same for their children. But now consider the godly men whose good deeds have not been forgotten. Those who came after them benefited from the rich legacy they left; their race remained faithful to the Covenant, their children followed their example. Their family will endure forever and never will its glory be tarnished.
Gospel: Mk 11:11–26:
So Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And after he had looked all around, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve. The next day, when they were leaving Bethany, he felt hungry. In the distance he noticed a fig tree covered with leaves, so he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. Then Jesus said to the fig tree, “May no one ever eat your fruit!” And his disciples heard these words. When they reached Jerusalem, Jesus went to the temple, and began to drive away all the people he saw buying and selling there.
He overturned the tables of the money changers and the stools of those who sold pigeons. And he would not let anyone carry anything through the temple area. Jesus then taught the people, “Does not God say in the Scriptures: My house will be called a House of Prayer for all the nations? But you have turned it into a den of thieves.” The chief priests and the teachers of the Law heard of this, and they tried to find a way to destroy him. They were afraid of him, because all the people were astonished by his teaching. When evening came, Jesus left the city. Early next morning, as they walked along the road, the disciples saw the fig tree withered to its roots.
Peter then said to him, “Master, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered.”And Jesus replied, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and have no doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will happen, it will be done for you. Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it shall be done for you. And when you stand to pray, if you have anything against anyone, forgive, so that your heavenly Father may also forgive your sins.”
Fig tree is symbolic of prosperity and peace. Jesus saw Nathanael under the fig tree; this signifies peace under God’s blessing. The fig tree represents the oppressive political leaders and the hypocritical religious authorities of the Temple. The religious leaders paraded in their gallant robes and looked religiously devout, but it was merely for show. The poor Temple worshippers were prevented and distracted from praying, because the merchants occupied their place at the Temple. The religious authorities did not even lift a finger to right the situation, because they profited from the merchants who paid the Temple tax.
Jesus cursed the fig tree, because it was barren. Today’s religious scenario doesn’t differ much from the time of Jesus. Certain pastors prey upon and take advantage of gullible devotees under the guise of religion. A well-known TV evangelist wrote a letter to a widow in a nursing home asking for $200. His reason was that if she did not have the money, she should borrow it and send it to him. A local newspaper published the letter. The evangelist claimed that God instructed him to send this letter to the widow. Unfortunately, the lady had been dead for three months! (Bible.org)
1st Reading: Sir 51:12cd–20:
I will give you thanks and praise and bless the Name of the Lord. In my youth, before I set out on my travels, I openly sought wisdom in prayer; before the temple I asked for her and I will pursue her to the end of my days. While she blossomed like a ripening cluster, my heart was delighted in her; my feet followed the right path, because from my youth I searched for her. As soon as I began listening to her she was given to me, and with her, much instruction.
With her help I made progress and I will glorify him who gives me wisdom, for I decided to put it into practice and ardently seek what is good. I shall not regret it. My soul has struggled to possess her. I have been attentive to observe the Law, and after my faults I have stretched out my hands to heaven and lamented my ignorance of her. My love of her increased and I found her in repentance. It was through her from the beginning that I learned to possess my heart. She will not forsake me.
Gospel: Mk 11:27-33:
They [Jesus and his disciples] were once again in Jerusalem. As Jesus was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the teachers of the Law and the elders came to him and asked, “What authority do you have to act like this? Who gave you authority to do the things you do?” Jesus said to them, “I will ask you a question, only one, and if you give me an answer, then I will tell you what authority I have to act like this. Was John’s preaching and baptism a work of God, or was it merely something human? Answer me.”
And they kept arguing among themselves, “If we answer that it was a work of God, he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’” But neither could they answer before the people that the baptism of John was merely something human, for everyone regarded John as a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know,” and Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you what authority I have to act as I do.”
When God revealed to Moses his holy name, Ehyeh asher Ehyeh, “I am what I am,” the great divide between heaven and earth disappears for a moment. Once revealed, this name exudes with sanctity, so it should be uttered once yearly. It is believed also that icons are merely not religious pictures, but are “windows on to heaven.” To say the name of God at some other time is sacrilegious. Once revealed, it had to be veiled again. A religious controversy started in 1907 in the monastic polity of Mount Athos, in the north Aegean Sea. On one side are the “deifiers,” and on the other side are the “glorifiers.”
The former holds that when “Jesus Prayer” is recited, heaven descends to earth in the form of divine energy. The glorifiers want to keep his name holy in heaven. (In the Name of the Name, The Economist, 12/22/1) Religious tension continues to flare up between mystics and religious authorities, and folk Catholicism and official church teachings. To favor one is to admit that the other is wrong. Religion is not either-or. In Jesus there is neither Jew nor Greek, nor is there male and female. Religion is essentially holistic.