Bible Diary for May 9th – 15th

May 9th

Sixth Sunday of Easter

1st Reading: Acts 10:25–26, 34–35, 44–48:
As Peter was about to enter, Cornelius went to him, fell on his knees and bowed low. But Peter lifted him up saying, “Stand up, for I too am a human being.” Peter then spoke to them, “Truly, I realize that God does not show partiality, but in all nations he listens to everyone who fears God and does good. Peter was still speaking when the Holy Spirit came upon all who listened to the Word.

And the believers of Jewish origin who had come with Peter were amazed, “Why! God gives and pours the Holy Spirit on foreigners also!” For indeed this happened: they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter declared, “Can we refuse to baptize with water these people who have received the Holy Spirit, just as we have?” So he had them baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. After that they asked him to remain with them for some days.

2nd Reading: 1 Jn 4:7–10:
My dear friends, let us love one another for love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Those who do not love have not known God, for God is love. How did the love of God appear among us? God sent his only Son into this world that we might have life through him. This is love: not that we loved God but that he first loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Gospel: Jn 15:9–17:
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love! You will remain in my love if you keep my commandments, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you all this, that my own joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: Love one another as I have loved you! There is no greater love than this, to give one’s life for one’s friends; and you are my friends, if you do what I command you.

I shall not call you servants any more, because servants do not know what their master is about. Instead, I have called you friends, since I have made known to you everything I learned from my Father. You did not choose me; it was I who chose you and sent you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. And everything you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. This is my command, that you love one another.

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.

May 10th

St. Damien de Veuster

1st Reading: Acts 16:11–15:
So We put out to sea from Troas and sailed straight across to Samothrace Island, and the next day to Neapolis. From there we went inland to Philippi, the leading city of the district of Macedonia, and a Roman colony. We spent some days in that city. On the sabbath we went outside the city gate to the bank of the river where we thought the Jews would gather to pray.

We sat down and began speaking to the women who were gathering there. One of them was a God-fearing woman named Lydia from Thyatira City, a dealer in purple cloth. As she listened, the Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying. After she had been baptized together with her household, she invited us to her house, “If you think I am faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us to accept her invitation.

Gospel: Jn 15:26–16:4a:
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 tell you all this to keep you from stumbling and falling away. They will put you out of the synagogue. Still more, the hour is coming, when anyone who kills you will claim to be serving God; they will do this, because they have not known the Father or me. I tell you all these things now so that, when the time comes, you may remember that I told you about them.

“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.”

May 11th

1st Reading: Acts 16:22–34:
So they set the crowd against them and the officials tore the clothes off Paul and Silas and ordered them to be flogged. And after inflicting many blows on them, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to guard them safely. Upon receiving these instructions, he threw them into the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly a severe earthquake shook the place, rocking the prison to its foundations. Immediately all the doors flew open and the chains of all the prisoners fell off. The jailer woke up to see the prison gates wide open.

Thinking that the prisoners had escaped, he drew his sword to kill himself, but Paul shouted to him, “Do not harm yourself! We are all still here.” The jailer asked for a light, then rushed in, and fell at the feet of Paul and Silas. After he had secured the other prisoners, he led them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you and your household will be saved.” Then they spoke the word of God to him and to all his household. Even at that hour of the night, the jailer took care of them and washed their wounds; and he and his whole household were baptized at once. He led them to his house, spread a meal before them and joyfully celebrated with his whole household his newfound faith in God.

Gospel: Jn 16:5–11:
But now I am going to the One who sent me, and none of you asks me where I am going; instead you are overcome with grief, because of what I have said. Believe me, it is better for you that I go away, because as long as I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go away, I will send him to you, and when he comes, he will vindicate the truth before a sinful world; and he will vindicate the paths of righteousness and justice. What is the world’s sin, in regard to me? Disbelief. What is the path of righteousness? It is the path I walk, by which I go to the Father; and you shall see me no more. What is the path of justice? It is the path on which

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!

May 12th

Sts. Nereus and Achilleus
St. Pancras

1st Reading: Acts 17:15, 22–18:1:
Paul was taken as far as Athens by his escort, who then returned to Beroea with instructions for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible. Then Paul stood up in the Areopagus hall and said, “Athenian citizens, I note that in every way you are very religious. As I walked around looking at your shrines, I even discovered an altar with this inscription: To an unknown God. Now, what you worship as unknown, I intend to make known to you. God, who made the world and all that is in it, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, being as he is Lord of heaven and earth. Nor does his worship depend on anything made by human hands, as if he were in need.

“Rather it is he who gives life and breath and everything else to everyone. From one stock he created the whole human race to live throughout all the earth, and he fixed the time and the boundaries of each nation. He wanted them to seek him by themselves, even if it were only by groping for him, succeed in finding him. Yet he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being, as some of your poets have said: for we too are his offspring. If we are indeed God’s offspring, we ought not to think of divinity as something like a statue of gold or silver or stone, a product of human art and imagination.

“But now God prefers to overlook this time of ignorance and he calls on all people to change their ways. He has already set a day on which he will judge the world with justice through a man he has appointed. And, so that all may believe it, he has just given a sign by raising this man from the dead.” When they heard Paul speak of a resurrection from death, some made fun of him, while others said, “We must hear you on this topic some other time.” At that point Paul left. But a few did join him, and believed. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus court, a woman named Damaris, and some others. After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth.

Gospel: Jn 16:12–15:
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.

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.

May 13th

Ascension Thursday
Our Lady of Fatima

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:
A little while, and you will see me no more; and then a little while, and you will see me.“ Some of the disciples wondered, “What does he mean by, ‘A little while, and you will not see me; and then a little while, and you will see me‘? And why did he say, ‘I go to the Father‘?” And they said to one another, “What does he mean by ‘a little while‘? We don‘t understand.” Jesus knew that they wanted to question him; so he said to them, “You are puzzled because I told you that in a little while you will see me no more, and then a little while later you will see me. “Truly, I say to you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy.”

Paul was more successful in converting many non-Jews outside Israel to the Christian faith, than in drawing his fellow Jews to Jesus. Our labors for the Lord will not always bear fruit. A devout mother will not always be able to turn her son away from a life of crime; a teacher will not be able to motivate all students to become the best they can be; a Christian missionary may be rejected and persecuted. And yet in the end what matters most is not the fruit of our labor but our fidelity to our mission and vocation.

May 14th

St. Matthias

1st Reading: Acts 1:15–17, 20–26:
It was during this time that Peter stood up in the midst of the community—about one hundred and twenty in all—and he said, “Brothers, it was necessary that the Scriptures referring to Judas be fulfilled. The Holy Spirit had spoken through David about the one who would lead the crowd coming to arrest Jesus. He was one of our number and had been called to share our common ministry. In the book of Psalms it is written: Let his house become deserted and may no one live in it. But it is also written: May another take his office.

Therefore we must choose someone from among those who were with us during all the time that the Lord Jesus moved about with us, beginning with John’s baptism until the day when Jesus was taken away from us. One of these has to become, with us, a witness to his resurrection.” Then they proposed two: Joseph, called Barsabbas, also known as Justus, and Matthias. They prayed: “You know, Lord, what is in the hearts of all. Show us, therefore, which of the two you have chosen to replace Judas in this apostolic ministry which he deserted to go to the place he deserved.” Then they drew lots between the two and the choice fell on Matthias who was added to the eleven apostles.

Gospel: Jn 15:9–17:
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love! You will remain in my love if you keep my commandments, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you all this, that my own joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: Love one another as I have loved you! There is no greater love than this, to give one’s life for one’s friends; and you are my friends, if you do what I command you.

I shall not call you servants any more, because servants do not know what their master is about. Instead, I have called you friends, since I have made known to you everything I learned from my Father. You did not choose me; it was I who chose you and sent you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. And everything you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. This is my command, that you love one another.

Peter and Judas Iscariot had similarities and differences. Peter was very close to Jesus, Judas had been trusted with the group’s purse. Peter had been reprimanded for not thinking God’s ways, Judas lamented a “wasted” costly perfume. Both had been forewarned about their future betrayal and denial. Jesus tried to bring them back like lost sheep to his “fold.” To Judas he said, “Are you going to betray me with a kiss?”, and Jesus looked at Peter after the third denial. The former was motivated by despair, unbelieving he could be forgiven, the latter wept bitterly and died believing in God’s compassionate love.

Peter as a rock remained firm in his love for Christ, whereas Judas’ name became synonymous with evil and treachery. There are times when we traded in Jesus with loose morality, we denied him when we feel shameful and afraid to practice our faith publicly and personally. We keep on unremorsefully with sins we deem God could not forgive. We are Christians, but “do we know” much about our faith? Are we any different from Peter and Judas? God has an Alzheimer’s, for what he has forgiven, he has forgotten! He doesn’t know addition and multiplication either.

May 15th

St. Isidore the Farmer

1st Reading: Acts 18:23–28:
After spending some time there, he left and traveled from place to place through Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening the disciples. A certain Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, arrived at Ephesus. He was an eloquent speaker and an authority on the Scriptures, and he had some knowledge of the way of the Lord. With great enthusiasm he preached and taught correctly about Jesus, although he knew only of John’s baptism.

As he began to speak boldly in the synagogue, Priscilla and Aquila heard him; so they took him home with them and explained to him the way more accurately. As Apollos wished to go to Achaia, the believers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly strengthened those who, by God’s grace, had become believers, for he vigorously refuted the Jews, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah.

Gospel: Jn 16:23b–28:
Truly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. So far you have not asked for anything in my name; ask, and receive, that your joy may be full. I have taught you all these things in veiled language, but the time is coming when I shall no longer speak in veiled language, but will speak to you plainly about the Father. When that day comes, you will ask in my name; and it will not be necessary for me to ask the Father for you, for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me, and you believed that I came from the Father. As I came from the Father, and have come into the world, so I am leaving the world, and going 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.”