Bible Diary for April 23rd – 29thBible Diary
Second Sunday of Easter
1st Reading: Acts 2:42-47
They were faithful to the teaching of the apostles, the common life of sharing, the breaking of bread and the prayers.
A holy fear came upon all the people, for many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. Now, all the believers lived together, and shared all their belongings. They would sell their property, and all they had, and distribute the proceeds to others, according to their need. Each day, they met together, in the temple area; they broke bread in their homes; they shared their food, with great joy and simplicity of heart; they praised God and won the people’s favor. And every day, the Lord added to their number, those who were being saved.
2nd Reading: 1 Pt 1:3-9
Let us praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for his great mercy. In raising Jesus Christ from the dead, he has given us new life, and a living hope. The inheritance that does not corrupt, nor goes bad, nor passes away, was reserved for you, in heaven, since God’s power shall keep you faithful, until salvation is revealed, in the last days.
There is cause for joy, then, even though you may, for a time, have to suffer many trials. Thus will your faith be tested, like gold in a furnace. Gold, however, passes away, but faith, worth so much more, will bring you, in the end, praise, glory and honor, when Jesus Christ appears.
You have not, yet, seen him, and, yet, you love him; even without seeing him, you believe in him, and experience a heavenly joy beyond all words, for you are reaching the goal of your faith: the salvation of your souls.
Gospel: Jn 20:19-31
On the evening of that day, the first day after the Sabbath, the doors were locked where the disciples were, because of their fear of the Jews. But Jesus came, and stood among them, and said to them, “Peace be with you!” Then he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples, seeing the Lord, were full of joy.
Again Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” After saying this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit! Those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; those whose sins you retain, they are retained.”
Thomas, the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he replied, “Until I have seen in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
Eight days later, the disciples were again inside the house and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; stretch out your hand, and put it into my side. Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe!”
Thomas said, “You are my Lord and my God.” Jesus replied, “You believe because you see me, don’t you? Happy are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
There were many other signs that Jesus gave in the presence of his disciples, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded, so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Believe, and you will have life through his name!
Joy is a theme that runs through the readings today. The early Christians lived a life of sharing and received joy as their inheritance. Peter attests to the possibility of irreducible joy even in the midst of trials, thanks to the workings of faith. Jesus’ wounds of mercy bring joy into the hearts of the disciples.
What brings joy into our hearts is the discovery of God’s merciful love that redeems us in spite of our unworthiness–the Divine Mercy that will not be taken away, as attested by the healed wounds that are etched in the body of the Risen Christ who shows them as his identity. Such mercy reaches out to the fearful and the doubting ones as well.
Pray for a merciful heart.
Do an act of Mercy.
St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen
1st Reading: Acts 4:23-31
As soon as Peter and John were set free, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and elders had said to them.
When they heard it, they raised their voices as one, and called upon God, “Sovereign Lord, maker of heaven and earth, of the sea and everything in them, you have put these words in the mouth of David, our father and your servant, through the Holy Spirit: Why did the pagan nations rage and the people conspire in folly? The kings of the earth were aligned; and the princes gathered together against the Lord and against his Messiah.
For indeed, in this very city, Herod, with Pontius Pilate and the pagans, together, with the people of Israel, conspired against your holy servant, Jesus, whom you anointed. Thus, indeed, they brought about whatever your powerful will had decided, from all time, would happen. But now, Lord, see their threats against us; and enable your servants to speak your word with all boldness. Stretch out your hand, to heal, and to work signs and wonders, through the name of Jesus, your holy servant.”
When they had prayed, the place where they were gathered together shook; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God boldly.
Gospel: Jn 3:1-8
Among the Pharisees there was a ruler of the Jews named Nicodemus. He came to Jesus by night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you have come from God to teach us, for no one can perform miraculous signs like yours unless God is with him.”
Jesus replied, “Truly, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again from above.”
Nicodemus said, “How can there be rebirth for a grown man? Who could go back to his mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus replied, “Truly, I say to you: No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Because of this, don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again from above.’
The wind blows where it pleases and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. It is like that with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
There are many Nicodemus’ among us today. They are cautious and not ready to make a public act of faith. Yet they feel a tug in their heart that makes them also uneasy. They have to satisfy their curiosity. And so even if in the cover of darkness, they attempt to get in touch with the Lord. They bring with them their doubts, their confusion and indecision. They genuinely search for the truth even if they still have their fears. Our challenge as followers of the Lord is how to take care of the Nicodemus’ of our times. Is our faith strong enough to convince them to set aside their fears and embrace the Lord? And so we are invited today to check our faith and see whether it is worth passing on to others who are searching for the truth that could give meaning to their lives.
1st Reading: 1 Pt 5: 5b-14
In the same way, let the younger ones among you respect the authority of the elders. All of you must clothe yourselves with humility, in your dealings with one another, because God opposes the proud but gives his grace to the humble.
Bow down, then, before the power of God, so that he will raise you up at the appointed time. Place all your worries on him, since he takes care of you.
Be sober and alert, because, your enemy, the devil prowls about, like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Stand your ground, firm in your faith, knowing, that our brothers and sisters, scattered throughout the world, are confronting similar sufferings. God, the giver of all grace, has called you, to share in Christ’s eternal glory, and after you have suffered a little, he will bring you to perfection: he will confirm, strengthen and establish you forever. Glory be to him forever and ever. Amen.
I have had these few lines of encouragement, written to you by Silvanus, our brother, whom I know to be trustworthy. For I wanted to remind you of the kindness of God, really present in all this. Hold on to it.
Greetings from the community in Babylon, gathered by God, and from my son, Mark.
Greet one another with a friendly embrace. Peace to you all who are in Christ.
Gospel: Mk 16:15-20
Then he told them, “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; the one who refuses to believe will be condemned. Signs like these will accompany those who have believed: in my name they will cast out demons and speak new languages; they will pick up snakes, and if they drink anything poisonous, they will be unharmed; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”
So then, after speaking to them, the Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven and took his place at the right hand of God. The Eleven went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.
The last instruction of the Lord is given to His disciples. They have to go out and spread His teachings. The group started as a little movement with members that do not really inspire confidence. It is an amalgam of fishermen, tax-collectors, patriots and a thief. But they have undergone the purifying bath of the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord. They have been tested and have stood firm, albeit with certain hesitation. Their training is complete. From being disciples of the Lord, they will make disciples of others.
And so it goes that in life we pass through certain stages but we are not meant to stay there forever. Life progresses towards a definite end. The destination is what we make of it in our sojourn. Let us take our place too in the community of God’s disciples and make others disciples of God too. Our mission awaits. Let us take up the task with courage for the Lord will be with us till the end.
1st Reading: Acts 5:17-26
The High Priest and all his supporters, that is, the party of the Sadducees, became very jealous of the apostles; so they arrested them and had them thrown into the public jail. But an angel of the Lord opened the door of the prison during the night, brought them out, and said to them, “Go and stand in the temple court and tell the people the whole of this living message.” Accordingly, they entered the temple at dawn and resumed their teaching.
When the High Priest and his supporters arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin, that is the full Council of the elders of Israel. They sent word to the jail to have the prisoners brought in. But when the temple guards arrived at the jail, they did not find them inside; so they returned with the news, “We found the prison securely locked, and the prison guards at their post outside the gate; but when we opened the gate, we found no one inside.”
Upon hearing these words, the captain of the temple guard and the high priests were baffled, wondering where all of this would end. Just then, someone arrived with the report, “Look, those men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple, teaching the people.” Then the captain went off with the guards and brought them back, but without any show of force, for fear of being stoned by the people.
Gospel: Jn 3:16-21
Yes, God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but may have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world; instead, through him the world is to be saved. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned. He who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
“This is how Judgment is made: Light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For whoever does wrong hates the light, and doesn’t come to the light, for fear that his deeds will be seen as evil. But whoever lives according to the truth comes into the light, so that it can be clearly seen that his works have been done in God.
Genuine love is so powerful that it can move us to acts of selflessness and great sacrifice. And our God is not immune to this power of love. He so loved the world that He gave up what is most precious to Him, His only begotten Son so that the world will be saved. Through this divine sacrifice, the world was redeemed and transformed. This tells us that love is not just a feeling. It is followed up by actions that are by nature sacrificial. Because to love is to forget oneself and put the good of the beloved as your own good.
And so this sacrificial and salvific love of God demands a response. The gospel says that whoever believes in Jesus will be saved. It is because Jesus is the incarnated love of the Father in our midst. And if we believe in Him, we believe in the sacrificing and salvific love of the Father. We become caught up in that love. We can go back to being “in the image and likeness of God” as before.
1st Reading: Acts 5:27-33
So they brought them in and made them stand before the Council; and the High Priest questioned them, “We gave you strict orders not to preach such a Savior; but you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching; and you intend charging us with the killing of this man.” To this, Peter and the apostles replied, “Better for us to obey God, rather than any human authority!
The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a wooden post. God set him at his right hand, as Leader and Savior, to grant repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses to all these things, as well as the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
When the Council heard this, they became very angry and wanted to kill them.
Gospel: Jn 3:31-36
He who comes from above is above all; he who comes from the earth belongs to the earth, and his words belong to the earth. He who comes from heaven speaks of the things he has seen and heard; he bears witness to these things, but no one accepts his testimony. Whoever does receive his testimony acknowledges the truthfulness of God.
The one sent by God speaks God’s words, and gives the Spirit unstintingly. The Father loves the Son and has entrusted everything into his hands. Whoever believes in the Son lives with eternal life; but he who will not believe in the Son will never know life, and always faces the justice of God.
The guides that excel are those who are native to the place. They know of things that are not accessible to those who just studied. They have the feel of the lay of the place. That is why Jesus is an excellent teacher of the things in heaven. He guides like nobody can to have these treasures coming from above because He came from there. He co-authored these good things. So those who receive Him and His teachings have these things in abundance. That is why only the teachings of Jesus is worthy of our trust. The elaborations of men and women of these teachings have to pass through prudent scrutiny. Some of them will try to legitimize their human understanding of Jesus’ teachings by claiming a title and dignity beyond their scope. Hence we have a “bird of prey from the East,” we also have “the Chosen Son of God” and the likes. They may be good men or women. But only one guide comes from heaven, Jesus the Christ. It is to Him that we should pledge our allegiance and faith.
St. Peter Chanel
St. Louis Grignion de Montfort
1st Reading: Acts 5:34-42
But one of them, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law highly respected by the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin. He ordered the men to be taken outside for a few minutes and then he spoke to the assembly.
“Fellow Israelites, consider, well, what you intend to do to these men. For some time ago, Theudas came forward, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men joined him. But he was killed and all his followers were dispersed or disappeared. After him, Judas, the Galilean, appeared, at the time of the census and persuaded many people to follow him. But he, too, perished; and his whole following was scattered. So, in this present case, I advise you to have nothing to do with these men. Leave them alone. If their project or activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. If, on the other hand, it is from God, you will not be able to destroy it; and you might indeed, find yourselves fighting against God.”
The Council let themselves be persuaded. They called in the apostles and had them whipped; and ordered them not to speak again of Jesus, the Savior. Then they set them free.
The apostles went out from the Council, rejoicing that they were considered worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of the Name. Day after day, both in the temple and in people’s homes, they continued to teach, and to proclaim, that Jesus was the Messiah.
Gospel: Jn 6:1-15
After this, Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, near Tiberias, and large crowds followed him, because of the miraculous signs they saw, when he healed the sick. So he went up into the hills and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.
Then lifting up his eyes, Jesus saw the crowds that were coming to him, and said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread so that these people may eat?” He said this to test Philip, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred silver coins would not buy enough bread for each of them to have a piece.”
Then one of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?”
Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass there, so the people, about five thousand men, sat down. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish, and gave them as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten enough, he told his disciples, “Gather up the pieces left over, that nothing may be lost.”
So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with bread, that is, with pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
When the people saw the miracle which Jesus had performed, they said, “This is really the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Jesus realized that they would come and take him by force to make him king; so he fled to the hills by himself.
Who would think that a small and humble offering of the little boy would feed such magnitude of people? Perhaps the little boy thought to share his precious meal only with Jesus. Little did he know that whatever is offered to Jesus is redirected back to people and is returned a hundredfold. This is the mystery of generosity, that no matter how little it is, it will always reach and benefit a lot of people. This is the motive why we have to do our share to make this world a better place in our own small way. It is never small in the eyes of God. And so, the parable of the mustard seed, the parable of the wheat, the parable of the dough and the yeast and the likes are iconic signs that tell us, be mindful of the little things for they have the seed of greatness within them. The little boy with his little offering fed the multitude that day. It is because he was courageous to offer it to God without reservation.
St. Catherine of Siena
1st Reading: Acts 6:1-7
In those days, as the number of disciples grew, the so-called Hellenists complained against the so called Hebrews, because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. So the Twelve summoned the whole body of disciples together, and said, “It is not right, that we should neglect the word of God to serve at tables. So, friends, choose from among yourselves seven respected men, full of Spirit and wisdom, that we may appoint them to this task. As for us, we shall give ourselves to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.”
The whole community agreed; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit; Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenus and Nicolaus of Antioch, who was a proselyte. They presented these men to the apostles, who, first prayed over them, and then, laid hands upon them.
The word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly; and even many priests accepted the faith.
Gospel: Jn 6:16-21
When evening came, the disciples went down to the shore. After a while, they got into a boat to make for Capernaum on the other side of the sea, for it was now dark and Jesus had not yet come to them. But the sea was getting rough because a strong wind was blowing.
They had rowed about three or four miles, when they saw Jesus walking on the sea, and he was drawing near to the boat. They were frightened, but he said to them, “It is I! Don’t be afraid!”
They wanted to take him into the boat, but immediately, the boat was at the shore to which they were going.
It was getting dark and the disciples in a hurry to go to the opposite side left without Jesus. It was the prudent thing to do. Prudence is a virtue yet sometimes it does not yield the desired result. The disciples leaving without Jesus made them vulnerable and at the mercy of the elements. It was a rough sailing. Then Jesus walked towards them. For every time we are buffeted by the tempest of life, He walks towards us to calm our storms. He does so uninvited. He wants to do it because He decides to do it for us.
The disciples want to take Him into their boat. Perhaps it was a sign of gratitude and relief. But immediately, they were on shore. For Jesus doesn’t want to intrude into our house just because we felt obliged to do so. If He was not invited before, it does not stop Him from helping midstream. And it seemed He doesn’t want to take advantage of the vulnerable position of people. That is why He took the disciples immediately to the shore. He wants to give them a new start. And hopefully from there, they will invite Him from the very beginning and not in the middle of the journey simply because they have a debt of gratitude to pay.