Bible Diary for May 19th – 25thBible Diary
5th Sunday of Easter
1st Reading: Acts 14:21-27:
After proclaiming the gospel in that town and making many disciples, they returned to Lystra and Iconium, and on to Antioch. They were strengthening the disciples, and encouraging them to remain firm in the faith; for they said, “We must go through many trials to enter the kingdom of God.” In each church they appointed elders and, after praying and fasting, they commended them to the Lord, in whom they had placed their faith. Then they traveled through Pisidia, and came to Pamphylia. They preached the word in Perga and went down to Attalia. From there, they sailed back to Antioch, where they had first been commended to God’s grace, for the task they had now completed. On their arrival, they gathered the Church together, and told them all that God had done through them, and how he had opened the door of faith to the non-Jews.
2nd Reading: Rev 21:1-5a:
Then, I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and no longer was there any sea. I saw the new Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down from God, out of heaven, adorned as a bride prepared for her husband. A loud voice came from the throne, “Here is the dwelling of God among mortals: He will pitch his tent among them, and they will be his people; he will be God-with-them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There shall be no more death or mourning, crying out or pain, for the world that was, has passed away.” The One seated on the throne said, “See, I make all things new.”
Gospel: Jn 13:31-33a, 34-35:
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.”
What do I make out of the betrayals of my friends? What is my attitude towards people who are very negative to me? Many times I react. I do not see the value of enduring insults and deprivations. Lord, help me change the way I perceive negative things around me. They may be your ways to purify me, to test how much I love you, how much I can take hold of my faith. Those who bother me may be your instruments in making me stronger in character.
St. Bernardine of 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:
Whoever keeps my commandments is the one who loves me. If he loves me, he will also be loved by my Father; I too shall love him and show myself clearly to him.” Judas—not Judas Iscariot—asked Jesus, “Lord, how can it be that you will show yourself clearly to us and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word and my Father will love him; and we will come to him and live with him. But if anyone does not love me, he will not keep my words; and these words that you hear are not mine, but the Father’s who sent me. I told you all this while I am still with you. From now on the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I have 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.
St. Cristóbal Magallanes and Companions
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:
Peace be with you! My peace I give to you; not as the world gives peace do I give it to you. Do not be troubled! Do not be afraid! You heard me say, ‘I am going away, but I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you this now before it takes place, so that when it does happen you may believe. There is very little left for me to tell you, for the prince of this world is at hand, although there is nothing in me that he can claim. But see, the world must know that I love the Father, and that I do what the Father has taught me to do. Come now, let us go.
Peace is Christ’s gift to his disciples. It is not solicited. It is freely given. The world has a different concept of peace. World’s peace is made possible through the destruction of the enemy. Jesus’ peace comes as a result of his victory over death. Soon the disciples will realize what he means. It will not take long after the Last Supper and his crucifixion. The disciples must be happy when he is gone. They should not panic at his absence. He is coming back, to claim them back. Evil and dark forces can claim nothing in Jesus.
The disciples must stay peaceful and calm. We may ask, what causes us to be panicky? Why don’t we have peace of mind? In the face of crisis and death, Christians should exude that peace which Jesus gives. It comes from the belief that Jesus will fulfill his promises that all will be alright. St. Paul in the first reading continues to do his mission in spite of being dragged away by his enemies. He stays focused on strengthening the faith of his converts that through sufferings they will enter the kingdom of God.
St. Rita of Cascia
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:
I am the true vine and my Father is the vine grower. If any of my branches doesn’t bear fruit, he breaks it off; and he prunes every branch that does bear fruit, that it may bear even more fruit. You are already made clean by the word I have spoken to you. Live in me as I live in you. The branch cannot bear fruit by itself, but has to remain part of the vine; so neither can you, if you don’t remain in me. I am the vine and you are the branches. As long as you remain in me and I in you, you bear much fruit; but apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not remain in me is thrown away, as they do with branches, and they wither. Then they are gathered and thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask whatever you want, and it will be given to you. My Father is glorified when you bear much fruit: it is then that you become my disciples.
Jesus uses metaphors to describe himself, his Father and his disciples. He says he is the true vine, his Father is the vine dresser. His disciples are the branches. The Father wills that the branches are productive. He cuts off from the vine the branches that give no fruit. The Father’s metaphorical actions warn us Christians to be productive. We can if we want. We can if we are converted. To be productive and to bear more fruits we should listen to his words. His disciples are pruned by his words. We as branches are productive insofar as we are connected with Jesus.
We connect ourselves with him through his words and according to the contemplatives, through prayer. In this way, truly we become his disciples. Some Christians in the first readings are not connected with Christ, but with their former religion Judaism. Paul and Barnabas argue against imposing the Jewish law of circumcision to become Christians. The apostles in Jerusalem listen to their argument and do not impose Jewish laws on their Gentile converts. We cannot produce good fruits if we impose our own opinion to others, not the apostolic teachings transmitted by the Church.
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:
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love! You will remain in my love if you keep my commandments, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you all this, that my own joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete.
Jesus develops the commandment of love. His love for his disciples comes from his Father. He gives what he has. He is first loved by his Father. The quality of Jesus’ love for his disciples is determined by love of his Father. Love is not just having affection for the other. Love is tied with obedience. The one who loves must keep the commandments. Without obedience, we cannot claim we love God. Take note those who do not follow God’s love rules. Jesus tells the reason why we should also remain in his love: that his joy may be ours and be complete.
When that happens, what more can we ask? If ever we feel restless, it may be because we are so preoccupied with our own personal agenda. We do not express our love to God by praying and helping the poor. We also forget to show our affection for the people we live within our homes. Once home, we shut our doors and do not interact with other members of the family. When we become more conscious of loving God and our neighbors, we are careful not to violate anything and in turn we have joy.
1st Reading: Acts 15:22-31:
The Apostles and presbyters, in agreement with the whole Church, decided to choose representatives and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers. This is the letter delivered by them: “The Apostles and the presbyters, your brothers, to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia of Gentile origin: greetings. Since we have heard that some of our number who went out without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind, we have with one accord decided to choose representatives and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So we are sending Judas and Silas who will also convey this same message by word of mouth: ‘It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.’” And so they were sent on their journey. Upon their arrival in Antioch they called the assembly together and delivered the letter. When the people read it, they were delighted with the exhortation.
Gospel: Jn 15:12-17:
This is my commandment: Love one another as I have loved you! There is no greater love than this, to give one’s life for one’s friends; and you are my friends, if you do what I command you. I shall not call you servants anymore, because servants do not know what their master is about. Instead, I have called you friends, since I have made known to you everything I learned from my Father. You did not choose me; it was I who chose you and sent you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. And everything you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. This is my command, that you love one another.
The commandment of love seems to be easy and romantic. Looking deeper at what is involved in loving can be scary. Love seeks to give benefit to the other person. One must also be willing to receive the gestures of love of the other. It is reciprocal. Now it is not only about giving affection or justice, sharing a portion of your time and resources, but also it is offering all that you have, your life. Love is actually martyrdom. It is not wishy washy. You die for your friend with nothing left for yourself, not even a breath.
That is the greatest love according to Jesus. Jesus will show that it is possible when he suffers and dies on Mount Calvary. It is just a matter of time that he accomplishes these things for his friends. Loving to the point of death is possible only if we have developed friendship. We cannot die for our friends who are dear to us. To make real friends is as difficult as dying for them. If we feel it is not possible, because we have no real friends, we have to examine again what kind of hearts do we have.
St. Bede the Venerable
St. Gregory VII
St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi
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:
If the world hates you, remember that the world hated me before you. This would not be so if you belonged to the world, because the world loves its own. But you are not of the world, since I have chosen you from the world; because of this the world hates you. Remember what I told you: the servant is not greater than his master; if they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will keep yours as well. All this they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know the One who sent me.
The world hates the followers of Christ. The Christians should not be surprised because first of all it has hated to death Jesus Christ himself. When Christians are given a hard time by worldly people, they should not complain. They should accept persecutions or rejections as part of their Christian life. If Jesus was not spared of all these hostilities, they too will experience the same fate. For they are not greater than their teacher. They are not more privileged or fortunate than their master. This was already the feelings of the Johannine communities at the time of writing in the late 90s. Christians were obnoxious to the Roman society. The first reading tells a different story.
The Christian missionaries, like Paul and Timothy, succeed in evangelizing work. They make converts. They are very much welcome in helping those in need in the Christian communities they established. History tells us that their converts too will be persecuted by the Roman authorities. Today church members are also persecuted because they speak against the abuses of the government officials and against unjust economic and political system.