Bible Diary for May 5th – May 11th

Sunday
May 5th

6th Sunday of Easter

1st Reading: Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48:
When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and, falling at his feet, paid him homage. Peter, however, raised him up, saying, “Get up. I myself am also a human being.” Then Peter proceeded to speak and said, “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.” While Peter was still speaking these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the word. The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit should have been poured out on the Gentiles also, for they could hear them speaking in tongues and glorifying God. Then Peter responded, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit even as we have?” He ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

2nd Reading: 1 Jn 4:7-10:
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.

Gospel: Jn 15:9-17:
Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”

Reflection:
God manifests himself to his disciples, to his friends as love. As his followers and friends we ought to be love as well. What kind of relationship exists among the members of our community or family? Poverty is prevalent. Greed rules. Corruption manipulates… All of them exist because of self-centeredness. Almighty God, source of all goodness, enkindle in us the fire of your love so that we may nurture the culture of peace and firmly build up the civilization of love! Amen. Give food to the hungry and consume food accordingly.

Monday
May 6th

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.”

Reflection:
“Daylight, I must wait for the sunrise. I must think of a new life. And I mustn’t give in. When the dawn comes tonight will be a memory too. And the new day will begin.” (Memory) Remembrance of what had happened can be either traumatic or invigorating. Traumatic, if one doesn’t go beyond the pain; invigorating, when pain leads to healing. The Jews make present the Exodus through the ritual food and story of that event. The Eucharist brings to life again and again the paschal mystery. We enter into Christ’s saving actions every time we remember what he commanded us to do in his memory.

Some of us don’t go beyond the surface of the rituals. Though rituals are needed to lead us to Christ, the Center of the Eucharist, yet overemphasis on them can distract one from the true reason why we remember. Jesus rebuked the Scribes and Pharisees for having stressed the peripherals of washing cups, pots and kettles, and neglecting the essentials of the Commandments. “I never go to church,” a wandering member said. “The reason is because there are so many hypocrites there.” “Come,” the priest said. “There’s always a room for one more.”

Tuesday
May 7th

St. Rose Venerini

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.”

Reflection:
The first earthquake in Palestine took place in the reign of Ahab. Another occurred in Uzziah’s kingship. The miraculous earthquake happened at Christ’s death. The frequency of major earthquakes has increased about 20 times during the two thousand years before 1914, according to New Earth (1984, p. 23). However, the former president of the Seismological Society of America counteracted: “Certain religious groups are misled by the increasing number of small earthquakes that are being catalogued and listed by newer, more sensitive stations throughout the world” (C. F. Richter December 1969).

Living in earthquake prone areas, such as California’s San Andreas fault, puts one on edge. No one can surely predict when the big tremor is going to happen. Yet doomsdays soothsayers use this ploy to terrify gullible people to gain converts to their religion or for economic gain. There’s no reason to minimize the disastrous effects of earthquakes on life and property. One can draw a lesson out of this phenomenon: God’s presence. His angel stays with us, especially in time of need. We should not think of God only when tragedy hits. Don’t wait for the hearse to take you to church. Make Hay While The Sun Shines!

Wednesday
May 8th

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.”

Reflection:
In one of my visits to the Philippines, I could not find Christ’s statue with brown complexion, not with the “mestizo” or European face. This fascination with something foreign goes back to colonization when the value of what is local, such as goods, spirituality and personal looks, was not encouraged. Imported goods are more saleable, “white” complexion is beautiful than brown, and religiosity is mixed with superstitions. Literally, we are worshipping “an Unknown God.” Christology had no relevance with native culture. “It was largely colonization and evangelization in tandem that brought and propagated the western understanding of Jesus in Asia.” (Jose de Mesa)

This “helicopter Christology” “makes such a lot of missiological noise … that people around it are prevented from hearing the voice and seeing the vision of the descending divinity.” (Stanley J. Samartha) When we sincerely help both the “haves” into transforming their apathy to empathy and the “have-nots” into emerging from poverty to prosperity, God’s face becomes visible. “If one accepts that our troubles fall within the providence of God, one is more likely to see them as potentially beneficial and not necessarily destructive.” (M. Casey) God’s face continuously appears when this love shines out.

Thursday
May 9th

Ascension Thursday

1st Reading: Acts 1:1-11:
In the first book, Theophilus, I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught until the day he was taken up, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While meeting with them, he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for “the promise of the Father about which you have heard me speak; for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” When they had gathered together they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established 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, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”

2nd Reading: Eph 1:17-23:
Brothers and sisters: May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him. May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might, which he worked in Christ, raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens, far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.

Gospel: Mk 16:15-20:
Jesus said to his disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.

Reflection:
The mandate of Jesus after he ascended is: “proclaim the Good News to all creation.” Truly God wanted that all his children and all his creation would be fully renewed and commune as one with him in heaven. This invites us to use God’s creation according to its purpose. How do you value the environment, money, prestige and even sex? Lord, cure us of our maladies and addictions. Help us to rise above our human frailties and make us your true stewards of your creation. Amen. Throw garbage properly. Fight against illegal logging and reckless mining! Be responsible managers of your treasurers and even sexual urges! Nurture creativity and be productive!

Friday
May 10th

St. Damien de Veuster

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.”

Reflection:
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.

Saturday
May 11th

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.”

Reflection:
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.”