Bible Diary for May 12th – May 18th

May 12th

7th Sunday of Easter
Mother’s Day
Sts. Nereo y Achilleus
San Pancras

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.

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!

May 13th

Nuestra Señora De Fátima

1st Reading: Acts 19:1-8:
While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior of the country and down to Ephesus where he found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They answered him, “We have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” He said, “How were you baptized?” They replied, “With the baptism of John.” Paul then said, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. Altogether there were about twelve men. He entered the synagogue, and for three months debated boldly with persuasive arguments about the Kingdom of God.

Gospel: Jn 16:29-33:
The disciples said to Jesus, “Now you are talking plainly, and not in any figure of speech. Now we realize that you know everything and that you do not need to have anyone question you. Because of this we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you believe now? Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered to his own home and you will leave me alone. But I am not alone, because the Father is with me. I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.”

The laying on of hands is a common practice among Catholics, Presbyterians and LSD’s. It invokes ritually the Holy Spirit during baptisms and confirmations, healing services, blessings, and ordination of priests, ministers, elders, deacons and other church officers. Recently, Reiki (RAY-kee), a technique in which practitioners massage a person to relish the spiritual and universal life energy to reduce stress or bring healing, came to a head-on with US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Reiki originated in Japan in the late 1800s by Mikao Usui. This form of prayerful therapy has become a worldwide alternative to medicines.

The laying on of hands by itself has no power. Its result doesn’t depend on human will. It is given to some chosen few “charismatic” persons. Charisma can either be an attraction that can inspire devotion or a divine gift to heal. As always, there is a danger that the peripheral can overshadow the essential. An overemphasis on charismatic emotions and non-liturgical practices, such as speaking in tongues, spiritual therapy, charismatic songs and laying on of hands, runs the risk of focusing on the non-essential as a substitute to communion with Christ in the Eucharist. Philosophically, it’s stressing too much the accident over substance.

May 14th

San Matías

1st Reading: Acts 1:15-17, 20-26:
Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers and sisters (there was a group of about one hundred and twenty persons in the one place). He said, “My brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand through the mouth of David, concerning Judas, who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus. Judas was numbered among us and was allotted a share in this ministry. For it is written in the Book of Psalms: Let his encampment become desolate, and may no one dwell in it. and: May another take his office.

Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection.” So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.” Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the Eleven Apostles.

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 might 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.”

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 15th

San Isidoro el granjero

1st Reading: Acts 20:28-38:
At Miletus, Paul spoke to the presbyters of the Church of Ephesus: “Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, in which you tend the Church of God that he acquired with his own Blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them. So be vigilant and remember that for three years, night and day, I unceasingly admonished each of you with tears. And now I commend you to God and to that gracious word of his that can build you up and give you the inheritance among all who are consecrated.

I have never wanted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You know well that these very hands have served my needs and my companions. In every way I have shown you that by hard work of that sort we must help the weak, and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus who himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” When he had finished speaking he knelt down and prayed with them all. They were all weeping loudly as they threw their arms around Paul and kissed him, for they were deeply distressed that he had said that they would never see his face again. Then they escorted him to the ship.

Gospel: Jn 17:11b-19:
Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed, saying: “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one. When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely. I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the Evil One. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.”

Quispiam est lucrum ut interdum est perditum. (Something is gained when something is lost.) “When you part from your friend, you grieve not: For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.” (Kahlil Gibran) These two saying remind us that we are humans not animal. What?! Yes, because animals don’t consciously feel the angst of absence of a loved one. (Though research scientists argue that animals possess basic emotions such as fear and anger, yet evidence shows that animal response is mechanistically programmed to act with certain stimuli.)

When one feels distraught, deserted and depressed, what is the normal response? The leading causes of alcoholism or drug addiction are family influence, psychological problem, loneliness and peer pressure. These causes are aggravated by an easy access to drugs and alcohol. But these make one’s vulnerability worse. When brokenness reveals our humanness, humanity needs the divine to be whole again. Study shows a strong connection between religious involvement and healing. (D. Meinz) Dr. Levin said that religion’s emphasis on healthy behaviors, supportive relationships and hope impacts one’s overall health. (God, Faith, and Health, Jeff Levin, M.D.)

May 16th

1st Reading: Acts 22:30; 23:6-11:
Wishing to determine the truth about why Paul was being accused by the Jews, the commander freed him and ordered the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin to convene. Then he brought Paul down and made him stand before them. Paul was aware that some were Sadducees and some Pharisees, so he called out before the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees; I am on trial for hope in the resurrection of the dead.” When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the group became divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection or angels or spirits, while the Pharisees acknowledge all three.

A great uproar occurred, and some scribes belonging to the Pharisee party stood up and sharply argued, “We find nothing wrong with this man. Suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” The dispute was so serious that the commander, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, ordered his troops to go down and rescue Paul from their midst and take him into the compound. The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage. For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome.”

Gospel: Jn 17:20-26:
Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: “I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.”

According to the Bible, God made many surprise visits. The results were miraculous. Nebuchadnezzar, pagan king, became God’s agent in liberating the Hebrews. Samson’s mother was barren, so was Elizabeth, and Mary was a virgin. The Pharisees and Sadducees despised Christ’s disciples. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection, for it would mean the end of Roman and conquerors’ monetary assistance. The Pharisees, rebels against the Romans, hold on to the resurrection – the end of tyranny. Though the Pharisees had ulterior motives in defense of Paul, it became a blessing in disguise. When my health problems and financial woes became harrowing, I said literally, “Unless I put my hands into his side, I would not believe.” A woman asked a guru: “Teach me to pray for joy, for pity’s sake – I’ve suffered so much that I cannot bear. To think of future grief – give me some prayer. To murmur every day.” He replied, “How many years I wondered far and wide. Until I found the fortress that you seek – It is the knee, bend it, accept, be meek; I found no other way – this remedy. And only this, will cure you of your misery.”

May 17th

1st Reading: Acts 25:13b-21:
King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea on a visit to Festus. Since they spent several days there, Festus referred Paul’s case to the king, saying, “There is a man here left in custody by Felix. When I was in Jerusalem the chief priests and the elders of the Jews brought charges against him and demanded his condemnation. I answered them that it was not Roman practice to hand over an accused person before he has faced his accusers and had the opportunity to defend himself against their charge. So when they came together here, I made no delay; the next day I took my seat on the tribunal and ordered the man to be brought in. His accusers stood around him, but did not charge him with any of the crimes I suspected. Instead they had some issues with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus who had died but who Paul claimed was alive. Since I was at a loss how to investigate this controversy, I asked if he were willing to go to Jerusalem and there stand trial on these charges. And when Paul appealed that he be held in custody for the Emperor’s decision, I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar.”

Gospel: Jn 21:15-19:
After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and eaten breakfast with them, he said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He then said to Simon Peter a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

Moral injury, very much related to PTSD, occurs when one transgresses the basic moral beliefs and expectations. Peter failed miserably from what was expected of him. Jesus, as a psychiatrist par excellence, did not blame Peter. Instead, he debriefed Peter. Debriefing follows an experience to determine what went wrong. Part of this process is to relive the event, to sit in Cinderella, “little ashes” for purification, like what Native Indians do in smudging ritual. One has to go through “the ashes” of charcoal fire and be debriefed for healing. Peter had failed the first time he went by the charcoal fire.

While warming himself by the charcoal fire, he denied Jesus three times. Through this second “charcoal fire,” Jesus wanted to be sure that Peter would not fail, if he has an ardent Love. Again, the questions about Peter’s love were covertly asked three times. Suffering is not a punishment, as it was conceived in antiquity. Job suffered to manifest his righteousness. Suffering is corrective like debriefing. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is imperative to go through the cause of suffering no matter if it is painful, otherwise the sufferer will perpetually live in the past.

May 18th

San Juan I

1st Reading: Acts 28:16-20, 30-31:
When he entered Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him. Three days later he called together the leaders of the Jews. When they had gathered he said to them, “My brothers, although I had done nothing against our people or our ancestral customs, I was handed over to the Romans as a prisoner from Jerusalem. After trying my case the Romans wanted to release me, because they found nothing against me deserving the death penalty. But when the Jews objected, I was obliged to appeal to Caesar, even though I had no accusation to make against my own nation. This is the reason, then, I have requested to see you and to speak with you, for it is on account of the hope of Israel that I wear these chains.” He remained for two full years in his lodgings. He received all who came to him, and with complete assurance and without hindrance he proclaimed the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Gospel: Jn 21:20-25:
Peter turned and saw the disciple following whom Jesus loved, the one who had also reclined upon his chest during the supper and had said, “Master, who is the one who will betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus said to him, “What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours? You follow me.” So the word spread among the brothers that that disciple would not die. But Jesus had not told him that he would not die, just “What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours?” It is this disciple who testifies to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.

“It is in the character of very few men to honor without envy a friend who has prospered.” (Aeschylus) The Latin translation of envy is nonsight, a blindness to what one has. An envious person has no self-worth. He doesn’t notice what he possesses, but he also wants to deprive others of what they have. An artist depiction of envy shows a woman’s bulging eyes conveying fear and distress. (Théodore Géricault, Woman Suffering from Obsessive Envy or the Hyena of the Salpêtrière) The Bible is teeming with envious characters, Cain envied Abel, Saul envied David.

In the classic play Snow White, the Queen is envious of Snow White’s youth and beauty and wants to kill her so she could again be the “fairest of them all.” Jesus wants Peter to think first of his mission before getting concerned with other things. Charity begins at home. Put your own “house” in order first and then help others. This is true also with one looking at the speck in other’s eyes, but doesn’t see the dirt in their own eyes. “What we all tend to complain about most in other people are those things we don’t like about ourselves.” (William Wharton)