Bible Diary for May 24th – 30th

May 24th

7th Sunday of Easter
The Ascension of the Lord

1st Reading: Acts 1:1–11:
In the first part of my work, Theophilus, I wrote of all that Jesus did and taught, from the beginning until the day when he ascended to heaven. But first he had instructed, through the Holy Spirit, the apostles he had chosen. After his passion, he presented himself to them, giving many signs, that he was alive; over a period of forty days he appeared to them and taught them concerning the kingdom of God. Once, when he had been eating with them, he told them, “Do not leave Jerusalem but wait for the fulfillment of the Father’s promise about which I have spoken to you: John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit within a few days.”

When they had come together, they asked him, “Is it now that you will restore the kingdom of Israel?” And he answered, “It is not for you to know the time and the steps that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the earth.” After Jesus said this, he was taken up before their eyes and a cloud hid him from their sight. While they were still looking up to heaven, where he went, suddenly, two men dressed in white stood beside them and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking up at the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will return in the same way as you have seen him go there.”

2nd Reading: Eph 1:17–23:
May the God of Christ Jesus our Lord, the Father of glory, reveal himself to you, and give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation, that you may know him. May he enlighten your inner vision, that you may appreciate the things we hope for, since we were called by God. May you know how great is the inheritance, the glory, God sets apart for his saints; may you understand, with what extraordinary power, he acts in favor of us who believe. He revealed his almighty power in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and had him sit at his right hand in heaven, far above all rule, power, authority, dominion, or any other supernatural force that could be named, not only in this world, but in the world to come as well.

Thus has God put all things under the feet of Christ and set him above all things, as head of the church, which is his body, the fullness of him, who fills all in all. Brothers and sisters, may the God of Christ Jesus our Lord, the Father of Glory, reveal himself to you and give you a spirit of wisdom, that you may know him. May he enlighten your inner vision, that you may appreciate the things we hope for, since we were called by God. May you know how great is the inheritance, the glory, God sets apart for his saints; may you understand with what extraordinary power he acts in favor of us who believe.

He revealed his almighty power in Christ when he raised him from the dead and had him sit at his right hand in heaven, far above all rule, power, authority, dominion, or any other supernatural force that could be named, not only in this world but in the world to come as well. Thus has God put all things under the feet of Christ and set him above all things, as head of the Church which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Gospel: Mt 28:16–20:
As for the eleven disciples, they went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Jesus, they bowed before him, although some doubted. ”All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all that I have commanded you. I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”

Even during the last moments of Jesus with His disciples, some still hold doubts in their hearts. The resurrection is too big a mystery for them to grasp. However, it did not impede them to go to the mountain where Jesus is to ascend to His Father. Their doubt was not a hindrance to follow Him. Faith takes time to grow but if there is love, it will hold the line until belief sets in. Some of the disciples may not have entirely understood what was happening but in the end, they will prove themselves worthy of the Lord’s confidence and esteem.

There are people who struggle with their faith. Some have questions that if left unanswered would seriously harm their belief. A little time spent with the likes of them might ease their burden and turn their unbelief into solid faith. Likewise guiding the little ones to our faith might be a good start to help propagate our faith. A time spent with children and explaining to them in the simplest way the articles of our faith would aid them in their journey towards a mature faith in the future.

May 25th

St. Bede the Venerable
St. Gregory VII
St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi

1st Reading: Acts 19:1–8:
While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through interior of the country and came to Ephesus. There, he found some disciples, whom he asked, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They answered, “We have not even heard that anyone may receive the Holy Spirit.” Paul then asked, “What kind of baptism have you received?” And they answered, “The baptism of John.”

Paul then explained, “John’s baptism was for conversion, but he himself said they should believe in the one who was to come, and that one is Jesus.” Upon hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Paul laid his hands on them and the Holy Spirit came down upon them; and they began to speak in tongues and to prophesy. There were about twelve of them in all. Paul went into the synagogue; and for three months he preached and discussed there boldly, trying to convince them about the kingdom of God.

Gospel: Jn 16:29–33:
The disciples said to him, “Now you are speaking plainly and not in veiled language! Now we see that you know all things, even before we question you. Because of this we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “You say that you believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have told you all this, so that in me you may have peace. You will have trouble in the world; but, courage! I have overcome the world.”

Veiled language is something irritating. It teases and taxes the brain, disclosing, while at the same time, hiding its real meaning. This is the reason why many do not have the patience to follow the teachings of the Lord. But now, He is commended for speaking plainly. They could understand Him; now they can believe. But then, the truths of heaven are never captured by plain human words.

Jesus had to use symbolic language to convey a truth whose understanding would come at a later time. For that is the nature of the mystery greater than us. We have to spend time to grasp it but even then, we cannot fully comprehend the mystery. Our understanding will always increase as time goes by, but always will be short of the real meaning of the mystery. This is the motivation for our joy. That is why we can follow without regret.

May 26th

St. Philip Neri

1st Reading: Acts 20:17–27:
From Miletus, Paul sent word to Ephesus, summoning the elders of the Church. When they came to him, he addressed them, “You know how I lived among you, from the first day I set foot in the province of Asia; how I served the Lord in humility, through the sorrows and trials that the Jews caused me. You know, that I never held back from doing anything that could be useful for you; I spoke publicly and in your homes; and I urged Jews, and non-Jews, alike, to turn to God and believe in our Lord Jesus. But now, I am going to Jerusalem, chained by the Spirit, without knowing what will happen to me there.

Yet, in every city, the Holy Spirit warns me, that imprisonment and troubles await me. Indeed, I put no value on my life; if only I can finish my race; and complete the service to which I have been assigned by the Lord Jesus, to announce the good news of God’s grace. I now feel sure, that none of you, among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom of God, will ever see me again. Therefore, I declare to you, this day, that my conscience is clear with regard to all of you. For I have spared no effort in fully declaring to you God’s will.

Gospel: Jn 17:1–11a:
After saying this, Jesus lifted up his eyes to heaven said, “Father, the hour has come! Give glory to your Son, that the Son may give glory to you. You have given him power over all humanity, so that he may give eternal life to all those you entrusted to him. For this is eternal life: to know you, the only true God, and the One you sent, Jesus Christ. I have glorified you on earth and finished the work that you gave me to do. Now, Father, give me, in your presence, the same glory I had with you before the world began. I have made your name known to those you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they kept your word.

And now they know that whatever you entrusted to me, is indeed from you. I have given them the teaching I received from you, and they accepted it, and know in truth that I came from you; and they believe that you sent me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world, but for those who belong to you, and whom you have given to me. Indeed all I have is yours, and all you have is mine; and now they are my glory. I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I come to you. Holy Father, keep those you have given me in your name, so that they may be one, as we also are.

Prayers are nothing but conversations with God. The more spontaneous they are the more endearing and intimate. Just as the prayer of Jesus to His Father in this gospel is a free-flowing conversation that comes out from the heart, prayers are not supposed to be a struggle to put into words what we want to tell the Father. After all, He knows what we need before we even utter them.

Some prayers are listened to and responded immediately. There are prayers that have to wait, while others are not responded to according to request. There are also favors that are withheld. Whatever the outcome of our prayers, they are always for our own good. What is most important is our growth in friendship and intimacy with our partner in this divine conversation and sustain such act.

May 27th

St. Augustine of Canterbury

1st Reading Act 20:28-38:
Keep watch over yourselves, and over the whole flock the Holy Spirit has placed into your care. Shepherd the Church of the Lord that he has won, at the price of his own blood. I know that, after I leave, ruthless wolves will come among you and not spare the flock. And, from among you, some will arise, corrupting the truth, and inducing the disciples to follow them. Be on the watch, therefore, remembering that, for three years, night and day, I did not cease to warn everyone, even with tears. Now, I commend you to God, and to his grace-filled word, which is able to make you grow and gain the inheritance that you shall share with all the saints.

I have not looked for anyone’s silver, gold or clothing. You, yourselves, know, that these hands of mine have provided for both my needs and the needs of those who were with me. In every way, I have shown you that by working hard one must help the weak, remembering the words that the Lord Jesus himself said, ‘Happiness lies more in giving than in receiving.’” After this discourse, Paul knelt down with them and prayed. Then, they all began to weep and threw their arms around him and kissed him. They were deeply distressed because he had said that they would never see him again. And they went with him even to the ship.

Gospel: Jn 17:11b–19:
I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I come to you. Holy Father, keep those you have given me in your name, so that they may be one, as we also are. When I was with them, I kept them safe in your name; and not one was lost, except the one who was already lost, and in this, the Scripture was fulfilled. And now I come to you; in the world I speak these things, so that those whom you gave me, might have joy—all my joy within themselves.

I have given them your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world, I do not ask you to remove them from the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. I have sent them into the world as you sent me into the world; and for their sake, I go to the sacrifice by which I am consecrated, so that they too may be consecrated in truth.

Jesus never forgets His friends. Even on the verge of His glorification, when mundane concerns fade in the background, Jesus never forgets for a moment His own. He commends them to the Father for safe-keeping. Yet His love does not blind Him from what is to be done. The disciples must stay in the world to continue what He has started, to consecrate the world in the truth of the Father. His love does not spoil them. He only asks that they be kept from the evil one, that no matter how the latter persecutes and inflicts pain on them, they will remain steadfast and strong in the faith. May the prayer of Jesus remain valid for all times and in all places.

May 28th

1st Reading: Acts 22:30; 23:6–11:
The next day, the commander wanted to know for certain, the charges the Jews were making against Paul. So, he released him from prison and called together the High Priest and the whole Council; and they brought Paul down and made him stand before them. The next day the commander wanted to know for certain the charges the Jews were making against Paul. So he released him from prison and called together the High Priest and the whole Council; and they brought Paul down and made him stand before them.

Paul knew that part of the Council were Sadducees and others Pharisees; so he spoke out in the Council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, son of a Pharisee. It is for the hope in the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial here.” At these words, an argument broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the whole assembly was divided. For the Sadducees claim that, there is neither resurrection, nor angels nor spirits; while the Pharisees acknowledge all these things.

Then, the shouting grew louder; and some teachers of the law of the Pharisee party protested, “We find nothing wrong with this man. Maybe a spirit or an angel has spoken to him.” With this, the argument became so violent that the commander feared that Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He, therefore, ordered the soldiers to go down and rescue him from their midst, and take him back to the fortress. That night, the Lord stood by Paul and said, “Courage! As you have borne witness to me here, in Jerusalem, so must you do in Rome.”

Gospel: Jn 17:20–26:
I pray not only for these. but also for those who through their word will believe in me. May they all be one, as you Father are in me and I am in you. May they be one in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory you have given me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. Thus they shall reach perfection in unity; and the world shall know that you have sent me, and that I have loved them, just as you loved me.

Father, since you have given them to me, I want them to be with me where I am, and see the glory you gave me, for you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you, and these have known that you have sent me. As I revealed your name to them, so will I continue to reveal it, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and I also may be in them.”

Jesus looks beyond those who believe in Him now as well as those who will believe in Him on the strength of the testimony of His present believers. He wishes to share with them what He has enjoyed with the Father. In this prayer, we catch a glimpse of the dynamics of God. The overflow of love within the Trinity is such that they need not hold on to it to be satisfied. They can share it freely since it comes from an inexhaustible supply within the Triune God. And so Jesus wishes to share the very life He has with the Father to His followers. They too will know someday the bliss within the Godhead.

May 29th

1st Reading: Acts 25:13b–21:
Some days later, king Agrippa, and his sister Bernice, arrived in Caesarea to greet Festus. As they were to stay there several days, Festus told the king about Paul’s case, and said to him. “We have here, a man, whom Felix left as a prisoner. When I was in Jerusalem, the chief priests, and the elders of the Jews, accused him, and asked me to sentence him. I told them, that it is not the custom of the Romans to hand over a man, without giving him an opportunity to defend himself in front of his accusers. So they came, and I took my seat, without delay, on the tribunal, and sent for the man.

When the accusers had the floor, they did not accuse him of any of the crimes that I was led to think he had committed; instead, they quarreled with him, about religion, and about a certain Jesus, who has died, but whom Paul asserted to be alive. I did not know what to do about this case, so I asked Paul if he wanted to go to Jerusalem, to be tried there. But Paul appealed, to be judged by the emperor. So I ordered, that he be kept in custody until I send him to Caesar.”

Gospel: Jn 21:15–19:
After they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these do?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” And Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” A second time Jesus said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” And Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Look after my sheep.” And a third time he said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was saddened because Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus then said, “Feed my sheep! Truly, I say to you, when you were young, you put on your belt and walked where you liked. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will put a belt around you, and lead you where you do not wish to go.” Jesus said this to make known the kind of death by which Peter was to glorify God. And he added, “Follow me!”

Love grows in intensity as time goes by. It could also lose its force. Jesus however invites Peter into deeper intimacy with Him again by His triple interrogation of the love Peter has for Him. He gives Peter the chance to redeem himself from his triple denial of the Lord during His passion. This episode from the past will be buried this day if Peter will be up to the occasion. Each time the Lord asks Peter and he affirms his love, a corresponding responsibility is placed upon him. This will allow Peter to validate his declaration of love by his readiness to do what the Lord commands him to do. Blessed is that day when Peter was redeemed by love.

May 30th

St. Joan of Arc

1st Reading: Acts 28:16–20, 30–31:
Upon our arrival in Rome, the captain turned the prisoners over to the military governor, but permitted Paul to lodge in a private house, with the soldier who guarded him. After three days, Paul called together the leaders of the Jews. When they had gathered, he said to them: “Brothers, though I have not done anything against our people, or against the traditions of our fathers, I was arrested in Jerusalem, and handed over to the Romans. They examined me, and wanted to set me free, for they saw nothing in my case that deserved death.

But the Jews objected, so I was forced to appeal to Caesar without the least intention of bringing any case against my own people. Therefore, I have asked to see you, and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel, that I bear these chains.” Paul stayed for two whole years, in a house he, himself, rented, where he received, without any hindrance, all those who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God, and taught the truth about Jesus Christ, the Lord, quite openly and without any hindrance.

Gospel: Jn 21:20–25:
Peter looked back and saw that the disciple Jesus loved was following as well, the one who had reclined close to Jesus at the supper, and had asked him, “Lord, who is to betray you?” On seeing him, Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to re main until I come, is that any concern of yours? Follow me!” Because of this, the rumor spread in the community that this disciple would not die.

Yet Jesus did not say to Peter, “He will not die,” but, “Suppose I want him to remain until I come back, what concern is that of yours?” It is this disciple who testifies about the things and has written these things down, and we know that his testimony is true. But Jesus did many other things; if all were written down, I think the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.

The gospels are not autobiographies of the Lord. They are faith accounts of the people who knew Him because they had heard, touched and seen the Lord. For this reason, there are many things that the Lord did which are not recorded. The gospel today says as much. This gives us an orientation on how to profit from our reading of the gospels. They are meant to awaken faith in Jesus who is the man behind the book. They are not meant to give us information into the life history of the Lord.