Bible Diary for May 28th – June 3rd
1st Reading: Acts 2:1-11:
When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.”
2nd Reading: 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13:
Brothers and sisters: No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.
Gospel: Jn 20:19-23:
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.”
The first gift of Jesus to His bewildered disciples when He appeared to them was “Peace.” It was the peace that had seen violence and death and had overcome it. It was a peace that would never give in to doubt and despair anymore. It is the peace of those who have “walked the valleys of death” and lived. This is a very big gift that one can give to others. This is a product of a life that has known hardship and has overcome it. Very few possess this kind of treasure. When the going is rough, we tend to seek persons who could give us proper perspectives of what we are undergoing.
Usually these are people who have undergone the same ordeal themselves and have survived. We draw strength from their wisdom and tranquility. We believe their words because they embody those words themselves. And so Jesus’ peace is a genuine peace. The disciples will be settled from that time on. The moment of fear has passed by. Today I would like to give peace and tranquility to others by being peaceful myself. I will not try to struggle nor compete even with myself. I will just be contented with who I am and what I have today and share these with others.
1st Reading: Gn 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.
Gospel: Jn 19:25-34:
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. Joan of Arc
1st Reading: Sir 35:1-12:
To keep the law is a great oblation, and he who observes the commandments sacrifices a peace offering. In works of charity one offers fine flour, and when he gives alms he presents his sacrifice of praise. To refrain from evil pleases the Lord, and to avoid injustice is an atonement. Appear not before the Lord empty-handed, for all that you offer is in fulfillment of the precepts. The just one’s offering enriches the altar and rises as a sweet odor before the Most High.
The just one’s sacrifice is most pleasing, nor will it ever be forgotten. In a generous spirit pay homage to the Lord, be not sparing of freewill gifts. With each contribution show a cheerful countenance, and pay your tithes in a spirit of joy. Give to the Most High as he has given to you, generously, according to your means. For the Lord is one who always repays, and he will give back to you sevenfold. But offer no bribes, these he does not accept! Trust not in sacrifice of the fruits of extortion. For he is a God of justice, who knows no favorites.
Gospel: Mk 10:28-31:
Peter began to say to Jesus, ‘We have given up everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first.”
Keeping the Law is good. Sirach tells us that to be faithful to the Law is to be at peace with God. But it is interesting that Sirach does not refer only to the avoidance of breaking the Law, like “not stealing” or “not killing” or “not committing adultery.” He also considers the doing of good as part of keeping the Law! So he also speaks of charity and almsgiving, of kindness and generosity. Being faithful to the Law is not only “not doing evil” but it is also “doing good!”
We cannot appear before the judgment seat of God empty handed. He says so clearly “Do not appear before the Lord with empty hands.” When we appear before God we must be able to show that we have duly given our “tithes,” that is, we have generously fulfilled the Law of Charity and remembered our neighbors. We must remember that on our Final Examination Jesus will ask only one question: “What did you do when you saw me hungry, and thirsty, and sick, and homeless, and naked, and in prison?” Would that when we do appear before our Divine Judge we may receive a merciful judgment!
Visitation of the Blessed Mary the Virgin
1st Reading: Zep 3:14-18a:
Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! The Lord has removed the judgment against you, he has turned away your enemies; The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear. On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem: Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, He will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.
Gospel: Lk 1:39-56:
Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever.” Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
Setting out in haste to a hill country while one is in a delicate state of pregnancy shows the kind of mindset the Virgin Mary has. She has no concern for herself. She thinks of Elizabeth‘s difficulty while forgetting her own well-being. People such as this are the ones who are truly rich. They can give themselves freely without minding the cost. Perhaps the Blessed Virgin Mary is generous as such because she has a treasure beyond compare inside her. The Lord Jesus is slowly taking shape in His humanity. It is only those who have the Lord that are capable of such extraordinary capacity to give. And so the meeting of these two blessed women became a meeting of grace upon grace. Both were blessed by God, and both carry that which will radically change the future ahead. Amidst these blessings, the only proper response is a burst of spontaneous thanksgiving and praise. The Magnificat is the response of a heart grateful for the gifts it received from God.
1st Reading: Sir 42:15-25:
Now will I recall God’s works; what I have seen, I will describe. At God’s word were his works brought into being; they do his will as he has ordained for them. As the rising sun is clear to all, so the glory of the Lord fills all his works; Yet even God’s holy ones must fail in recounting the wonders of the Lord, Though God has given these, his hosts, the strength to stand firm before his glory. He plumbs the depths and penetrates the heart; their innermost being he understands.
The Most High possesses all knowledge, and sees from of old the things that are to come: He makes known the past and the future, and reveals the deepest secrets. No understanding does he lack; no single thing escapes him. Perennial is his almighty wisdom; he is from all eternity one and the same, With nothing added, nothing taken away; no need of a counselor for him! How beautiful are all his works! even to the spark and fleeting vision! The universe lives and abides forever; to meet each need, each creature is preserved. All of them differ, one from another, yet none of them has he made in vain, For each in turn, as it comes, is good; can one ever see enough of their splendor?
Gospel: Mk 10:46-52:
As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.” He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.” Jesus told him, ‘Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.
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:
Now will I praise those godly men, our ancestors, each in his own time. But of others there is no memory, for when they ceased, they ceased. And they are as though they had not lived, they and their children after them. Yet these also were godly men whose virtues have not been forgotten; Their wealth remains in their families, their heritage with their descendants; Through God’s covenant with them their family endures, their posterity, for their sake. And for all time their progeny will endure, their glory will never be blotted out.
Gospel: Mk 11:11-26:
Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple area. He looked around at everything and, since it was already late, went out to Bethany with the Twelve. The next day as they were leaving Bethany he was hungry. Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf, he went over to see if he could find anything on it. When he reached it he found nothing but leaves; it was not the time for figs. And he said to it in reply, “May no one ever eat of your fruit again!” And his disciples heard it. They came to Jerusalem, and on entering the temple area he began to drive out those selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. He did not permit anyone to carry anything through the temple area. Then he taught them saying, “Is it not written: My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples? But you have made it a den of thieves.”
The chief priests and the scribes came to hear of it and were seeking a way to put him to death, yet they feared him because the whole crowd was astonished at his teaching. When evening came, they went out of the city. Early in the morning, as they were walking along, they saw the fig tree withered to its roots. Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” Jesus said to them in reply, “Have faith in God. Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him. Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours. When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance, so that your heavenly Father may in turn forgive you your transgressions.”
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 51:12 cd-20:
I thank the Lord and I praise him; I bless the name of the Lord. When I was young and innocent, I sought wisdom openly in my prayer I prayed for her before the temple, and I will seek her until the end, and she flourished as a grape soon ripe. My heart delighted in her, My feet kept to the level path because from earliest youth I was familiar with her. In the short time I paid heed, I met with great instruction. Since in this way I have profited, I will give my teacher grateful praise. I became resolutely devoted to her— the good I persistently strove for. My soul was tormented in seeking her, My hand opened her gate and I came to know her secrets. I directed my soul to her, and in cleanness I attained to her.
Gospel: Mk 11:27-33:
Jesus and his disciples returned once more to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple area, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders approached him and said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things? Or who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus said to them, “I shall ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was John’s baptism of heavenly or of human origin? Answer me.” They discussed this among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘Of heavenly origin,’ he will say, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?”– they feared the crowd, for they all thought John really was a prophet. So they said to Jesus in reply, “We do not know.” Then Jesus said to them, “Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
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.