Bible Diary for April 12th – 18th

April 12th

Pascua de Resurrección

1st Reading: Acts 10:34a, 37–43:
Peter then spoke to them, “Truly, I realize that God does not show partiality, No doubt you have heard of the event that occurred throughout the whole country of the Jews, beginning from Galilee, after the baptism John preached. You know how God anointed Jesus, the Nazorean with the Holy Spirit, and power. He went about doing good, and healing all who were under the devil’s power, because God was with him; we are witnesses of all that he did throughout the country of the Jews, and in Jerusalem itself. Yet, they put him to death, by hanging him on a wooden cross.

But God raised him to life on the third day, and let him manifest himself, not to all the people, but to the witnesses that were chosen beforehand by God—to us, who ate and drank with him after his resurrection from death. And he commanded us to preach to the people, and to bear witness, that he is the one appointed by God, to judge the living and the dead. All the prophets say of him, that everyone who believes in him has forgiveness of sins, through his name.”

2nd Reading: Col 3:1–4:
So then, if you are risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on earthly things. For you have died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, reveals himself, you also will be revealed with him in glory.

Gospel: Jn 20:1–9:
Now, on the first day after the Sabbath, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark, and she saw that the stone blocking the tomb had been moved away. She ran to Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and she said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have laid him.” Peter then set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.

He bent down and saw the linen cloths lying flat, but he did not enter. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and entered the tomb; he, too, saw the linen cloths lying flat. The napkin, which had been around his head, was not lying flat like the other linen cloths, but lay rolled up in its place. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in; he saw and believed. Scripture clearly said that Jesus must rise from the dead, but they had not yet understood that.

The two disciples almost always take the center stage of this drama of the empty tomb. While Mary of Magdala sometimes stays in the background, it is forgotten that it was she first who courageously went to the tomb in order to dignify the body of the Lord with the proper burial ritual. Probably it’s because her silence and unassuming presence make us tend to gloss over her and focus on the more popular disciple whom Jesus loved and Peter who takes charge every time. Her name recall to the readers tends to be nil. But it was she who had the privilege of seeing the Risen Lord first.

Her intuition led her to seek Him whom she loved in the confines of the tomb, a place for the dead, but found Him instead very much alive in the garden, the place of life and fecundity. Mary of Magdala is the apostle to the apostles. May she help us relish the joy of the Lord’s resurrection that we celebrate today. In our faith community, we tend to acknowledge only those who are prominent in service or those whose help are widely seen and felt. But how about the “little ones” who labor in the background? Their contribution tends to be drowned by the help extended by the more flamboyant, popular members of our church. Today might be a good day to thank them for services rendered without calling attention to themselves.

April 13th

San martin i

1st Reading: Acts 2:14, 22–33:
Then Peter stood up with the Eleven and, with a loud voice, addressed them, “Fellow Jews and all foreigners now staying in Jerusalem, listen to what I have to say. Fellow Israelites, listen to what I am going to tell you about Jesus of Nazareth. God accredited him and through him did powerful deeds and wonders and signs in your midst, as you well know. You delivered him to sinners to be crucified and killed, and, in this way, the purpose of God, from all times, was fulfilled.

But God raised him to life and released him from the pain of death; because it was impossible for him to be held in the power of death. David spoke of him when he said: ‘I saw the Lord before me at all times; he is by my side, that I may not be shaken. Therefore, my heart was glad and my tongue rejoiced; my body, too, will live in hope. Because you will not forsake me in the abode of the dead, nor allow your Holy One to experience corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life, and your presence will fill me with joy.’

Friends, I don’t need to prove that the patriarch David died and was buried; his tomb is with us to this day. But he knew, that God had sworn to him, that one of his descendants would sit upon his throne and, as he was a prophet, he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah. So he said, that he would not be left in the region of the dead, nor would his body experience corruption. This Messiah is Jesus; and we are all witnesses that God raised him to life. He has been exalted at God’s right side; and the Father has entrusted the Holy Spirit to him; this Spirit, he has just poured upon us, as you now see and hear.”

Gospel: Mt 28:8–15:
In fear, yet with great joy, the women left the tomb and ran to tell the news to his disciples. Suddenly, Jesus met them on the way and said, “Rejoice!” The women approached him, embraced his feet and worshiped him. But Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid! Go and tell my brothers to set out for Galilee; there, they will see me.” As the women proceeded on their way, some of the guards went into the city, and reported to the chief priests all that had happened.

The chief priests met with the elders, and decided to give the soldiers a large sum of money, with this order, “Say that his disciples came by night while you were asleep, and stole the body of Jesus. If Pilate comes to know of this, we will explain the situation and keep you out of trouble.” The soldiers accepted the money and did as they were told. This story has circulated among the Jews until this day.

Two tales of the empty tomb circulated that day. The first tale told of the resurrection, the passage to death and new life while the second tale was of deception, of thievery, with the intent to mislead. Whatever the impact the two tales had during that time, we are aware that the significant tale was the first.

It touched the small band of Jesus so much so that they made the necessary passage from cowardice to boldness, from being dispersed to becoming a group again, from despair to hope. And the resolve they had during the first Easter morn birthed a new movement that is alive until now. Mary of Magdala was the new “Gabriel” who brought tidings of great joy not only to the apostles but to those who would find renewed hope in the resurrection.

April 14th

1st Reading: Acts 2:36–41:
Let Israel, then, know for sure, that God has made Lord and Christ this Jesus, whom you crucified.” When they heard this, they were deeply troubled. And they asked Peter and the other apostles, “What shall we do, brothers?”

Peter answered: “Each of you must repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins may be forgiven. Then, you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise of God was made to you and your children, and to all those from afar, whom our God may call.” With many other words Peter gave the message; and appealed to them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So, those who accepted his word were baptized; some three thousand persons were added to their number that day.

Gospel: Jn 20:11–18:
Mary stood weeping outside the tomb; and as she wept, she bent down to look inside. She saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head, and the other at the feet. They said, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She answered, “Because they have taken my Lord and I don’t know where they have put him.” As she said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not recognize him. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?”

She thought it was the gardener and answered him, “Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned, and said to him, “Rabboni!”—which means Master. Jesus said to her, “Do not touch me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them: I am ascending to my Father, who is your Father, to my God, who is your God.” So Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord, and this is what he said to me.”

Not even the darkness of death and the apparent helplessness of Jesus during the crucifixion took away the love and esteem that Mary of Magdala had with Him. She still called Him her Lord and is now weeping over His missing body. Her grief made her a little bit inattentive to the one she spoke. She could not see her Lord with tears in her eyes. But she was called by her name and things changed.

She knew at once. Her sorrow gave way to joy. How many times have we succumbed to despair at the utter helplessness of our situation. And how many times have we turned things around simply because God called us by our name? Like Mary of Magdala, we have been called a long long time ago. In our mother’s womb God called us and mentioned us by name (Is. 49:1). If we go back from time to time to the experience of that first call, we will not cave in to any darkness that comes in our life.

April 15th

1st Reading: Acts 3:1–10:
Once when Peter and John were going up to the temple, at three in the afternoon, the hour for prayer, a man, crippled from birth, was being carried in. Every day, they would bring him and put him at the temple gate called “Beautiful;” there, he begged from those who entered the temple. When he saw Peter and John on their way into the temple, he asked for alms. Then Peter, with John at his side, looked straight at him and said, “Look at us.” So he looked at them, expecting to receive something from them.

But Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I have I give you: In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, walk!” Then, he took the beggar by his right hand and helped him up. At once, his feet and ankles became firm, and, jumping up, he stood on his feet and began to walk. And he went with them into the temple, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God; they recognized him as the one who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, and they were all astonished and amazed at what had happened to him.

Gospel: Lk 24:13–35:
That same day, two followers of Jesus were going to Emmaus, a village seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking to each other about all the things that had happened. While they were talking and debating these things, Jesus himself approached and began to accompany them, but their eyes were not able to recognize him. He asked, “What is it you are talking about?” The two stood still, looking sad. Then the one named Cleophas answered, “Why, it seems you are the only traveler to Jerusalem who doesn’t know what has happened there these past few days.”

And he asked, “What is it?” They replied, “It is about Jesus of Nazareth. He was a prophet, you know, mighty in word and deed before God and the people. But the chief priests and our rulers sentenced him to death. They handed him over to be crucified. We had hoped that he would redeem Israel. It is now the third day since all this took place. It is also true that some women of our group have disturbed us.

When they went to the tomb at dawn, they did not find his body; and they came and told us that they had had a vision of angels, who said that Jesus was alive. Some of our people went to the tomb and found everything just as the women had said, but they did not find a body in the tomb.” He said to them, “How dull you are, how slow of understanding! Is the message of the prophets too difficult for you to understand? Is it not written that the Christ should suffer all this, and then enter his glory?”

Then starting with Moses, and going through the prophets, he explained to them everything in the Scriptures concerning himself. As they drew near the village they were heading for, Jesus made as if to go farther. But they prevailed upon him, “Stay with us, for night comes quickly. The day is now almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. When they were at table, he took the bread, said a blessing, broke it, and gave each a piece. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; but he vanished out of their sight.

And they said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us when he was talking to us on the road and explaining the Scriptures?” They immediately set out and returned to Jerusalem. There, they found the Eleven and their companions gathered together. They were greeted by these words: “Yes, it is true, the Lord is risen! He has appeared to Simon!” Then the two told what had happened on the road to Emmaus, and how Jesus had made himself known, when he broke bread with them.

Emmaus is a journey of faith. Little did the two disciples know that they would be changed forever because of that walk. In their hour of uncertainty, a mysterious stranger appeared to help them navigate their confusion, their doubts and disbelief.

It was the most fruitful walk they ever had. For, unknown to them, it was the risen Lord Himself walking with them, guiding them, teaching them to understand what had transpired in their lives. So their hearts were burning and their eyes were opened by His Word and the Breaking of the Bread. They started their walk unsure and afraid. They continue now with purpose and renewed hope because they have encountered the Lord on their way to Emmaus.

April 16th

1st Reading: Acts 3:11–26:
While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, struck with astonishment, came running to them in Solomon’s Porch, as it was called. When Peter saw the people, he said to them,“ Fellow Israelites, why are you amazed at this? Why do you stare at us, as if it was by some power or holiness of our own, that we made this man walk? The God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over to death and denied before Pilate; when even Pilate had decided to release him.

You rejected the Holy and Just One; and you insisted that a murderer be released to you. You killed the Master of life, but God raised him from the dead; and we are witnesses to this. It is his Name, and faith in his Name, that has healed this man, whom you see and recognize. The faith that comes through Jesus has given him wholeness in the presence of all of you. Yet, I know that you acted out of ignorance, as did your leaders. God has fulfilled, in this way, what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer.

Repent, then, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out; and the time of refreshment may come by the mercy of God, when he sends the Messiah appointed for you, Jesus. For he must remain in heaven, until the time of the universal restoration, which God spoke of long ago, through his holy prophets. Moses foretold this, when he said: The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet, like me, from among your own people; you shall listen to him in all that he says to you.

Whoever does not listen to that prophet is to be cut off from among his people. In fact, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel onward, have announced the events of these days. You are the children of the prophets, and heirs of the Covenant that God gave to your ancestors, when he said to Abraham: All the families of the earth will be blessed through your descendant. It is to you, first, that God sends his Servant; he raised him to life, to bless you, by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”

Gospel: Lk 24:35–48:
Then the two told what had happened on the road to Emmaus, and how Jesus had made himself known, when he broke bread with them. While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood in their midst. (He said to them, “Peace to you.”) In their panic and fright they thought they were seeing a ghost, but he said to them, “Why are you upset, and how does such an idea cross your minds? Look at my hands and feet, and see that it is I myself! Touch me, and see for yourselves, for a ghost has no flesh and bones as I have!” (As he said this, he showed his hands and feet.)

Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, as they were astonished; so he said to them, “Have you anything to eat?” And they gave him a piece of broiled fish. He took it, and ate it before them. Then Jesus said to them, “Remember the words I spoke to you when I was still with you: Everything written about me in the law of Moses, in the prophets and in the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said, “So it was written: the Messiah had to suffer, and on the third day rise from the dead. Then repentance and forgiveness in his name would be proclaimed to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things.

And so the two disciples now give testimony of their experience on the way to Emmaus. Their story is just one among the other stories that testify to the Lord’s resurrection. But these will not just be stories; the Lord Himself appears in their midst with His gift of peace. His appearance settled the doubts of the many. They will not spend their time thinking “How could it be?” The time to move on begins. Jesus has to say His goodbye to His small band of faithful. They were a sorry lot but Jesus believed in them. They will now witness to Him whom they have seen, touched and heard.

April 17th

1st Reading: Acts 4:1–12:
While Peter and John were still speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to them. They were greatly disturbed, because the apostles were teaching the people, and proclaiming that resurrection from the dead had been proved, in the case of Jesus. Since it was already evening, they arrested them and put them in custody until the following day. But despite this, many of those who heard the Message, believed; and their number increased to about five thousand. The next day, the Jewish leaders, elders and teachers of the law assembled in Jerusalem. Annas, the High Priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and all who were of the high priestly class were there.

They brought Peter and John before them; and began to question them, “How did you do this? Whose name did you use?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke up, “Leaders of the people! Elders! It is a fact, that we are being examined today for a good deed done to a cripple. How was he healed? You, and all the people of Israel, must know, that this man stands before you cured, through the name of Jesus Christ, the Nazorean. You had him crucified. But God raised him from the dead. Jesus is the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. There is no salvation in anyone else; for there is no other Name given to humankind, all over the world, by which we may be saved.”

Gospel: Jn 21:1–14:
After this, Jesus revealed himself to the disciples by the Lake of Tiberias. He appeared to them in this way: Simon Peter, Thomas who was called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two other disciples were together; and Simon Peter said to them, “I’m going fishing.” They replied, “We will come with you.” And they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When the sun came up, Jesus was standing on the shore, but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus called out, “Friends, have you anything to eat?” They answered, “Nothing.” Then he said to them, “Throw the net on the right side of the boat and you will find something.” When they had lowered the net, they were not able to pull it in because of the great number of fish. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” At these words, “It’s the Lord!”

Simon Peter put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and jumped into the water. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish; they were not far from land, about a hundred meters. When they landed, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed into the boat and pulled the net to shore. It was full of big fish—one hundred and fifty-three—but, in spite of this, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” And not one of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” for they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and he did the same with the fish. This was the third time that Jesus revealed himself to his disciples after rising from the dead.

The swirl of events that had marked their lives forever must have been too big for Peter to digest at once. Their Lord and Master had been killed. Peter disowned Him when He was most vulnerable. He may have a change of heart now but the rumor that He is alive is too much to accept. Peter needs to sort things out. He might not know how to manage the events unfolding but at least he knows how to fish very well.

This is the trade where he is in control. So he thought. They labored all night but caught nothing. Peter must have been in the edge of despair when the Lord stepped in. He reintroduced Himself to His disciples by re-enacting the very first time He called them. That day was a fresh beginning for all of them. The darkness and the shame of the Holy Week are behind them. A new sun rises for the Son of God has finally risen from the dead.

April 18th

1st Reading: Acts 4:13–21:
They were astonished at the boldness of Peter and John, considering that they were uneducated and untrained men. They recognized, also, that they had been with Jesus, but, as the man who had been cured stood beside them, they could make no reply. So they ordered them to leave the council room while they consulted with one another. They asked, “What shall we do with these men? Everyone who lives in Jerusalem knows, that a remarkable sign has been given through them, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this from spreading any further among the people, let us warn them never again to speak to anyone in the name of Jesus.”

So they called them back and charged them not to speak, or teach at all, in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Judge for yourselves, whether it is right in God’s eyes, for us to obey you, rather than God. We cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Then the council threatened them once more and let them go. They could find no way of punishing them because of the people, who glorified God for what had happened.

Gospel: Mk 16:9–15:
After Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary of Magdala, from whom he had driven out seven demons. She went and reported the news to his followers, who were now mourning and weeping. But when they heard that he lived, and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. After this he showed himself in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country.

These men also went back and told the others, but they did not believe them. Later Jesus showed himself to the Eleven while they were at table. He reproached them for their unbelief, and hardness of heart, in refusing to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. Then he told them, “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation.

Why did Jesus first appear to Mary of Magdala? Was it intentional or was she just at the right place at the right time? Whatever it may be, this will be never taken from her. She was the first to see the risen Lord, and the privileged bearer of the good news to others. But her testimony was not enough to convince the others. A series of resurrection appearances will have to take place before the disciples will be convinced. Anything that big probably needs to be repeated before it can be understood.