Bible Diary for April 28th – May 4thBible Diary
2nd Sunday of Easter
St. Peter Chanel
St. Louis Grignion de Montfort
1st Reading: Acts 5:12-16:
Many miraculous signs and wonders were done among the people, through the hands of the apostles. The believers, of one accord, used to meet in Solomon’s Porch. None of the others dared to join them, but the people held them in high esteem. So, an ever-increasing number of men and women, believed in the Lord. The people carried the sick into the streets, and laid them on cots and on mats, so, that, when Peter passed by, at least his shadow might fall on some of them. The people gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those who were troubled by unclean spirits; and all of them were healed.
2nd Reading: Rev 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19:
I, John, your brother, who shares with you, in Jesus, the sufferings, the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island of Patmos, because of the word of God and witnessing to Jesus. On the Lord’s Day, the spirit took possession of me and I heard a voice behind me, which sounded like a trumpet, “Write down all that you see, in a book, and send it to the seven churches; of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”
I turned to see who was speaking to me; behind me were seven golden lamp stands and, in the middle of these, I saw someone, like a son of man, dressed in a long robe, tied with a golden girdle. Seeing him, I fell at his feet, like one dead; but he touched me with his right hand and said, “Do not be afraid. It is I, the First and the Last. I am the living one; I was dead; and now I am alive, for ever and ever; and mine are the keys of death and the netherworld. Now write what you have seen, both what is and what is yet to come.
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!
Thomas makes an incredible demand. It is not only to see is to believe, but to touch is to believe. He is not contented with sight, for it can just be a hallucination brought about by their intense group crisis. Thomas makes a big gamble. He may become a laughing stock among the apostles. He will certainly become a failed apostle who has not completed his course on discipleship if he does not come to believe in the Risen Lord. Jesus comes to his rescue. He appears again and invites Thomas to touch and see his hands. Next he asks him to thrust his hand on his side. Thomas now utters a profound profession of faith, “My God and my all.” Ask God to give you the gift of strong and active faith that makes you become outgoing.
St. Catherine of Siena
1st Reading: Acts 4:23-31:
After their release Peter and John went back to their own people and reported what the chief priests and elders had told them. And when they heard it they raised their voices to God with one accord and said, “Sovereign Lord, maker of heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them, you said by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of our father David, your servant:
Why did the Gentiles rage and the peoples entertain folly? The kings of the earth took their stand and the princes gathered together against the Lord and against his anointed.
Indeed they gathered in this city against your holy servant Jesus whom you anointed, Herod and Pontius Pilate, together with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do what your hand and your will had long ago planned to take place. And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and enable your servants to speak your word with all boldness, as you stretch forth your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
Gospel: Jn 3:1-8:
When Judas had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. God will glorify him, and he will glorify him very soon. My children, I am with you for only a little while; you will look for me, but as I already told the Jews, now I tell you: where I am going you cannot come. I give you a new commandment: Love one another! Just as I have loved you, you also must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
We must be “born from above” (anothen in Greek) to enter the kingdom of heaven. Other translations render it as “born again.” Had the author meant born again, he could have used palin. Born again Christians get their name from the mistranslation of John 3,3. To be born from above is to be baptized. Jesus discusses with a big figure of the Pharisaic group the necessity to undergo baptism as preached by John the Baptist. When one is baptized, he is born from above. He becomes a child of God. The first birth occurs when one is delivered from the mother’s womb.
The first is the natural birth, while the second is the spiritual birth. When one is baptized in water and Spirit, the person now belongs to a higher realm. He enters God’s realm. The Catholic Church teaches since the beginning that its baptism is indelible. One cannot be baptized again if he is already baptized. If he leaves the Catholic Church and joins another religion and then returns, he needs not to be baptized again. When God declares us children through baptism, let us begin living according to the Spirit, no longer according to the flesh.
St. Pius V
1st Reading: Acts 4:32-37:
The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the Apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the Apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.
Thus Joseph, also named by the Apostles Barnabas (which is translated Ason of encouragement”), a Levite, a Cypriot by birth, sold a piece of property that he owned, then brought the money and put it at the feet of the Apostles.
Gospel: Jn 3:7-15:
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.” Nicodemus asked again, “How can this be?” And Jesus answered, “You are a teacher in Israel, and you don’t know these things! Truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we witness to the things we have seen, but you don’t accept our testimony.
If you don’t believe when I speak of earthly things, what then, when I speak to you of heavenly things? No one has ever gone up to heaven except the one who came from heaven, the Son of Man. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
We need to understand earthly things in order to understand heavenly things. Pneuma is the Greek word for either wind or spirit. When we know the movement of the wind we may also figure out the movement of the Spirit. The wind blows where it will, so the Spirit of the Lord. Now when we possess the Spirit of the Lord, because we are born of the Spirit, we can understand God’s ways and we should be willing to be carried away by his Spirit. Jesus teaches Nicodemus his first-hand experience with God.
Jesus knows what he is saying about God and the mind of God because he has been there in heaven. He is just sent as incarnate to testify to bring to earth the heavenly realities. All Jesus asks now of Nicodemus and us listeners is to believe in him. Soon he will be lifted up. He will ascend into heaven where he comes from. This will confirm what he claims to be and his teachings about God and how we should live our lives on earth. Jesus is different from the rabbis of Israel and us who only figure what heaven is like.
St. Joseph the Worker
1st Reading: Gen 1:26—2:3:
The high priest rose up and all his companions, that is, the party of the Sadducees, and, filled with jealousy, laid hands upon the Apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night, the angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, led them out, and said, “Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.” When they heard this, they went to the temple early in the morning and taught. When the high priest and his companions arrived, they convened the Sanhedrin, the full senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the jail to have them brought in.
But the court officers who went did not find them in the prison, so they came back and reported, “We found the jail securely locked and the guards stationed outside the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” When the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard this report, they were at a loss about them, as to what this would come to. Then someone came in and reported to them, “The men whom you put in prison are in the temple area and are teaching the people.” Then the captain and the court officers went and brought them, but without force, because they were afraid of being stoned by the people.
Gospel: Mt 13:54-58:
He went to his hometown and taught the people in their synagogue. They were amazed and said, “Where did he get this wisdom and these special powers? Isn’t he the carpenter’s son? Isn’t Mary his mother and aren’t James, Joseph, Simon and Judas his brothers? Aren’t all his sisters living here? Where did he get all these things?” And so they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “The only place where prophets are not welcome is his hometown and in his own family.” And he did not perform many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
Familiarity breeds contempt. Jesus’ town mates cannot accept that he has become so popular and can have so much power and wisdom. They look down on his parents and his family background. How come that he is so outstanding now as if he does not come from a barrio or insignificant town compared to Capernaum or Jerusalem. No matter where Jesus comes from, we presume that his father Joseph taught him the rudiments of his faith and help him grow to become a practicing and God-fearing Jew.
In those days, it was the obligation of the male parents to instruct their children about the Torah and their religious practices. Joseph, though portrayed as a quiet man, certainly taught Jesus how to love God and neighbor. He gave him a good foundation of his faith and morals. When Jesus exposed himself to other places and other people, he was prepared to learn a lot more. His mind was ready to face controversies and to preach with solid theology. Jesus was also aware of his identity as the Son of God. His town mates fail to believe him and appreciate his saving power.
1st Reading: Acts 5:27-33:
When the court officers had brought the Apostles in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin, the high priest questioned them, “We gave you strict orders did we not, to stop teaching in that name. Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the Apostles said in reply, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree.
God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. We are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.” When they heard this, they became infuriated and wanted to put them to death.
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.”
Jesus comes from heaven. He speaks the things of heaven. He speaks God’s words, nothing else. He will bring people to heaven. But humanity does not believe him. The gospel of John clearly presents the importance of believing in the claims of Jesus. He comes from heaven and he brings only to us what he has seen and heard from the Father. Later Jesus will make miracles or signs to back up his claims. Still, many will not believe in him. There is a judgment to those who outrightly reject him and never gives him an inch.
But to those who come to believe him, he promises life eternal. To us who believe, we may ask, “What does it mean to believe?” To believe in Jesus is to enter into a relationship with him and consequently with the Father who sent him. To believe in him is to take seriously his words, his claims and his teachings. They may appear so ordinary or outrageous at times, but they come from his Father. What may be hard to believe for the Jews is his claim of divinity. Jesus will later say, “Nobody comes to me, unless the Father draw him.
Sts. Philip and 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, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me. If you know me, you will know the Father also; indeed you know him, and you have seen him.“ Philip asked him, “Lord, show us the Father, and that is enough.“ (…) Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? “All that I say to you, I do not say of myself. The Father who dwells in me is doing his own work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; at least believe it on the evidence of these works that I do.
“Truly, I say to you, the one who believes in me will do the same works that I do; and he will even do greater than these, for I am going to the Father. Everything you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. Indeed, anything you ask, calling upon my name, I will do it.“
Director Franco Zeffirelli after filming the movie entitled Brother Sun, Sister Moon, once said, “I discovered Francis, I discovered Christ.” Francis of Assisi succeeded in imitating Christ. He became a living image of Jesus as described in the gospels. The movie director came to know more about Christ when he was filming the life of St. Francis for Hollywood. Jesus tries to convince his disciples to know more about himself, because the more they know him, the more they will know the Father. Jesus serves as their tangible bridge to the Father.
The Father in heaven is accessible only through Christ. The disciples must believe in Jesus’ claim. They do not have to argue or to prove it with their reasoning or experimentation. All they have to do is to follow him, learn more about him as they journey with him. Jesus is still in the process of revealing everything about the Father. We learn more about Jesus and the Father, when we follow Jesus in real time. Movies about Jesus in real time can help, but we can know him more when we live our faith guided by his teachings as preached by our Church.
1st Reading: Acts 6:1-7:
As the number of disciples continued to grow, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table. Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
The proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit, also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the Apostles who prayed and laid hands on them. The word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly; even a large group of priests were becoming obedient to 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.
The disciples go ahead of Jesus even as they see the sea is getting rough. They are facing a danger. Not only that, it is becoming dark. They decide by themselves to go ahead. Jesus is still praying somewhere. He has just finished feeding the crowd and dismissed them. As they make a little progress, while they negotiate in the dark, their boat battered by waves caused by the strong wind, they notice someone walking towards them. They find it more terrifying. Jesus immediately assures them, it is he. They should not be afraid.
Without knowing it, they reach their destiny, Capernaum, their mission headquarters. Jesus catches up with them. Journey can be rough when Jesus is absent. Yet when he makes his presence felt and we take his words, “Don’t be afraid,” we are sure we will be out of danger. Our fear increases when we mistake Jesus for a ghost, someone who terrifies us rather than help us get out of the situation. Jesus assures us of his saving presence even if we misidentify him. He understands our frailties. Jesus does not make a harsh remark as in other gospels that record, “Where is your faith?”