Bible Diary for April 28th – May 4th

April 28th

5º domingo de pascua
San Pedro Chanel
San Luis Grignion de Montfort

1st Reading: Acts 9:26-31:
When Saul arrived in Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. Then Barnabas took charge of him and brought him to the apostles, and he reported to them how he had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. He moved about freely with them in Jerusalem, and spoke out boldly in the name of the Lord. He also spoke and debated with the Hellenists, but they tried to kill him. And when the brothers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him on his way to Tarsus. The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace. It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers.

2nd Reading: 1 Jn 3:18-24:
Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth. Now this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth and reassure our hearts before him in whatever our hearts condemn, for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he gave us.

Gospel: Jn 15:1-8:
Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

A shoot separated from the plant may still seem to have life, but after a short time, the cut branch starts showing the signs of death just like Christians who abandon their faith; slowly they will be eaten up by the lure of what is worldly. How do we nurture our connection with God? How is our prayer life? Many times I have separated myself from your presence, Lord. I disappoint you. I disown you. I hurt you… I am sorry Lord. Let me turn back to your loving care and never allow me to be separated from you. Amen. Join a prayer group and nurture your prayer life with the Word of God personally and as a family. Remember: “The family that prays together stays together.”

April 29th

Santa Catalina de Siena

1st Reading: Acts 14:5-18:
There was an attempt in Iconium by both the Gentiles and the Jews, together with their leaders, to attack and stone Paul and Barnabas. They realized it, and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding countryside, where they continued to proclaim the Good News. At Lystra there was a crippled man, lame from birth, who had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking, who looked intently at him, saw that he had the faith to be healed, and called out in a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet.” He jumped up and began to walk about. When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they cried out in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in human form.”

They called Barnabas “Zeus” and Paul “Hermes,” because he was the chief speaker. And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, for he together with the people intended to offer sacrifice. The Apostles Barnabas and Paul tore their garments when they heard this and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, “Men, why are you doing this? We are of the same nature as you, human beings. We proclaim to you good news that you should turn from these idols to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all Gentiles to go their own ways; yet, in bestowing his goodness, he did not leave himself without witness, for he gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filled you with nourishment and gladness for your hearts.” Even with these words, they scarcely restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them.

Gospel: Jn 14:21-26:
Jesus said to his disciples: “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.” Judas, not the Iscariot, said to him, “Master, then what happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me. “I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name — he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”

The one who loves Jesus is the one who keeps his commandments, and also the one whom the Father will love. This is the logic of Jesus. The disciple finds his connection with the Father because of his love for Jesus shown by keeping his commandments. Jesus adds, he will clearly reveal himself to him. This logic is not readily understood by Judas, not the Iscariot. So Jesus has to repeat his statement with an additional information. He and the Father will live with him. Time and again, the devoted disciples do not understand what Jesus wants to communicate. They have a history of not understanding. So Jesus promises them to send the Holy Spirit to help them. The Holy Spirit will teach and remind them of his teachings which they find unclear. We Christians of today, too, fail to understand God’s message to us. That is why we also fail to appreciate his gifts to us. These are none other than God’s relationship and indwelling in us. We also need the light of the Holy Spirit. Research, theological books and lively debates about him are not enough. The Holy Spirit explains God’s mysteries through our hearts.

April 30th

San pio v

1st Reading: Acts 14:19-28:
In those days, some Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and won over the crowds. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered around him, he got up and entered the city. On the following day he left with Barnabas for Derbe. After they had proclaimed the good news to that city and made a considerable number of disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch. They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.”

They appointed presbyters for them in each Church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord in whom they had put their faith. Then they traveled through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia. After proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia. From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work they had now accomplished. And when they arrived, they called the Church together and reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. Then they spent no little time with the disciples.

Gospel: Jn 14:27-31a:
Jesus said to his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe. I will no longer speak much with you, for the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over me, but the world must know that I love the Father and that I do just as the Father has commanded me.”

A bishop greets the faithful at Mass with “Pax (sit cum) omnibus” (Peace be with you), whereas a priest normally says, “Dominus vobiscum” (The Lord be with you). What is the difference between these two greetings? Whenever Jesus meets his apostles, especially at the post resurrection events, he greets them with “Peace be with you.” The Church firmly believes that the apostles (one who is sent out), primarily the receivers and givers of Christ’s peace, were succeeded by bishops. Priests are similar to the disciples (learners, students) of Jesus under the guidance of the apostles. Some people theorize that after the resurrection some of the disciples were commissioned as twelve apostles. (cf. Mk 3:14,15; 6:7-11; Mt 10:1; 28:19,20; Jn 20:23)

We are commissioned also to be both givers and recipients of peace. This is the story of a young man who in his 20’s wanted to change the world, but he could not. In mid-life, he settled instead to change his village but failed. He then decided to change his family and failed again. In his deathbed he thought that he should have started changing himself first, but it was too late. Let peace begin with you, let it be NOW!

May 1st

San José el trabajador

1st Reading: Acts 15:1-6:
Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved.” Because there arose no little dissension and debate by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the Apostles and presbyters about this question. They were sent on their journey by the Church, and passed through Phoenicia and Samaria telling of the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brethren. When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the Church, as well as by the Apostles and the presbyters, and they reported what God had done with them. But some from the party of the Pharisees who had become believers stood up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and direct them to observe the Mosaic law.” The Apostles and the presbyters met together to see about this matter.

Gospel: Jn 15:1-8:
Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

Positive disintegration is expressive of multilevel inner conflicts between one’s ideals and values (what must be) and one’s internal and external life (what is). Kazimierz Dąbrowski’s, the main proponent of Theory of Positive Disintegration, sees psychological tension and anxiety as necessary for growth. These “disintegrative” processes are therefore seen as “positive,” whereas people who fail to go through positive disintegration may remain fixated in a state of “primary integration.” Advancing into the higher levels of development is premised on developmental potential, including over excitabilities and above average reactions to stimuli. (E. Mika)

Briefly, TPD is searching within oneself and owning the obstacles to developmental growth. Oxymoronically, to ascend is to descend. The question to be circumcised or not is disintegrative, if it hinders a person’s developmental growth. However, conflicts due to dissenting views can be a person’s means for maturity. Concerns about one’s physical needs and other anxieties must never be over and above God’s kingdom. Making God’s kingdom one’s second priority is disintegrative. It can be growth productive, if set in the right order. “And seek not you what you shall eat, or what you shall drink, neither be you of doubtful mind.” (Lk12:29; Mt 6:25-34)

May 2nd

San Atanasio

1st Reading: Acts 15:7-21:
After much debate had taken place, Peter got up and said to the Apostles and the presbyters, “My brothers, you are well aware that from early days God made his choice among you that through my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the Gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness by granting them the Holy Spirit just as he did us. He made no distinction between us and them, for by faith he purified their hearts. Why, then, are you now putting God to the test by placing on the shoulders of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? On the contrary, we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they.” The whole assembly fell silent, and they listened while Paul and Barnabas described the signs and wonders God had worked among the Gentiles through them.

After they had fallen silent, James responded, “My brothers, listen to me. Symeon has described how God first concerned himself with acquiring from among the Gentiles a people for his name. The words of the prophets agree with this, as is written: After this I shall return and rebuild the fallen hut of David; from its ruins I shall rebuild it and raise it up again, so that the rest of humanity may seek out the Lord, even all the Gentiles on whom my name is invoked. Thus says the Lord who accomplishes these things, known from of old. It is my judgment, therefore, that we ought to stop troubling the Gentiles who turn to God, but tell them by letter to avoid pollution from idols, unlawful marriage, the meat of strangled animals, and blood. For Moses, for generations now, has had those who proclaim him in every town, as he has been read in the synagogues every sabbath.”

Gospel: Jn 15:9-11:
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 might be in you and your joy might be complete.”

True friendship springs from the heart, the seat of love. “Thanks to their friendship, and the role of their hearts, the Twelve at least substantially understood and began to learn more of who Christ really was … There are learned individuals who know many details of Christ, and simple people who don’t know these details, but they know Christ in his truth: ‘The heart speaks to the heart.’ And Paul essentially says that he knows Jesus in this way, with the heart, and that he knows essentially the person in his truth; and then afterward, he knows the details.” (Benedict V1) There was a student who seeks for wisdom. The rabbi gave him a glass to be filled with water and asked him to keep pouring in. He said, “Rabbi, the glass is full.” The rabbi retorted, “To be wise, first you must empty yourself.” The word complete comes from completus, big enough to fill. Perfect and complete joy can only be found in God. But first, we have to empty ourselves of vainglory and sinfulness, before we can speak “heart to heart” with Jesus and establish a loving friendship with him. To be happy, fill your heart with God.

May 3rd

St. Philip & St. James

1st Reading: 1 Cor 15:1-8:
I am reminding you, brothers and sisters, of the Gospel I preached to you, which you indeed received and in which you also stand. Through it you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at once, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. After that he appeared to James, then to all the Apostles. Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me.

Gospel: Jn 14:6-14:
Jesus said to Thomas, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.”

Paul passed on the faith that he received. Similarly our faith in Jesus has been passed on to us by earlier generations. Not being eyewitnesses of the Risen Lord, we rely on their testimony and witness. And as we have received the faith we are missioned to pass it on to others through our words and through the witness of our lives. How amazing that the almighty God allows his Gospel to be transmitted by frail and fragile vessels. How humbling that the Lord chooses to rely on us despite our sinfulness in order to proclaim the Gospel of salvation.

May 4th

1st Reading: Acts 16:1-10:
Paul reached also Derbe and Lystra where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. The brothers in Lystra and Iconium spoke highly of him, and Paul wanted him to come along with him. On account of the Jews of that region, Paul had him circumcised, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they traveled from city to city, they handed on to the people for observance the decisions reached by the Apostles and presbyters in Jerusalem. Day after day the churches grew stronger in faith and increased in number.

They traveled through the Phrygian and Galatian territory because they had been prevented by the Holy Spirit from preaching the message in the province of Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go on into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them, so they crossed through Mysia and came down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision. A Macedonian stood before him and implored him with these words, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” When he had seen the vision, we sought passage to Macedonia at once, concluding that God had called us to proclaim the Good News to them.

Gospel: Jn 15:18-21:
Jesus said to his disciples: “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me.”

Shakespeare contrasted love-hate in many of his plays. It’s apparent in Romeo and Juliet and their hateful families, in Othello’s love for his wife and hate of others. Overall, Shakespeare played on the antonymous poles of love and hate, with the latter overshadowing the former. “How much I must criticize you, my church, and yet how much I love you … I should like to see you destroyed and yet I need your presence. You have given me much scandal and yet you alone have made me understand holiness … No, I cannot be free of you, for I am one with you, even if not completely you … And again, if I were to build another church, it would be my church, not Christ’s church.” (Ode to Church, Carlo Carretto) How many times have we walked on cloud nine, when the sun shines? How many times did we blame God when we suffer? If things don’t go right in the church, its leaders and members, why get discouraged? Why not say, “There, but for the grace of God, so go I.” We vacillate between love and hate (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), still God loves us!