Bible Diary for May 21st – 27thBible Diary
Sixth Sunday of Easter
1st Reading: Acts 8:5-8, 14-17
Philip went down to a town of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. All the people paid close attention to what Philip said as they listened to him, and saw the miraculous signs that he did. For, in cases of possession, the unclean spirits came out shrieking loudly. Many people, who were paralyzed or crippled, were healed. So there was great joy in that town.
Now, when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the Samaritans had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. They went down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for he had not as yet come down upon any of them, since they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. So Peter and John laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.
2nd Reading: 1 Pt 3:15-18
But bless the Lord Christ in your hearts. Always have an answer ready, when you are called upon, to account for your hope, but give it simply and with respect. Keep your conscience clear, so that those who slander you may be put to shame by your upright, Christian living. Better to suffer for doing good, if it is God‘s will, than for doing wrong.
Remember how Christ died, once, and for all, for our sins. He, the just one, died for the unjust, in order to lead us to God. In the body, he was put to death, in the spirit, he was raised to life
Gospel: Jn 14:15-21
Jesus said to his disciples: ”If you love me, you will keep my commandments; and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever, the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he is with you, and will be in you.
”I will not leave you orphans, I am coming to you. A little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me, because I live and you will also live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
”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.”
The Samaritans receive the Good News and are baptized. Peter preaches about witnessing to the Gospel by one’s conduct in the world. Love of God is proved by one’s faithfulness to God’s commandments. Living in Christian fidelity, when the world invites us to go the other way, is no easy task. One cannot do it by oneself; one needs a helper. Thus, Jesus promises the Holy Spirit as the indwelling helper to see us through the Christian mandate. Where does my allegiance lay and to whom do I lean – the Spirit of the world or the indwelling Spirit of God? And Why?
Ask God to keep you ever connected to His indwelling presence.
Do an examination of conscience over the commandments and the beatitudes. What does it tell of your love of God?
St. Rita of Cascia
1st Reading: Acts 16:11-15
So, we put out to sea from Troas and sailed straight across to Samothrace Island; and the next day, to Neapolis. From there, we went inland to Philippi, the leading city of the district of Macedonia, and a Roman colony. We spent some days in that city.
On the Sabbath, we went outside the city gate, to the bank of the river, where we thought the Jews would gather to pray. We sat down and began speaking to the women who were gathering there. One of them was a God-fearing woman, named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a dealer in purple cloth.
As she listened, the Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying. After she had been baptized, together with her household, she invited us to her house, ”If you think I am faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us to accept her invitation.
Gospel: Jn 15:26—16:4a
Jesus said to his disciples: ”From the Father, I will send you the Spirit of truth. When this Helper has come from the Father, he will be my witness, and you, too, will be my witnesses, for you have been with me from the beginning.
”I tell you all this to keep you from stumbling and falling away. They will put you out of the synagogue. Still more, the hour is coming, when anyone who kills you will claim to be serving God; they will do this, because they have not known the Father or me. I tell you all these things now so that, when the time comes, you may remember that I told you about them. I did not tell you about this in the beginning, because I was with you.”
He will not leave them behind with nothing. Thus Jesus promises the Holy Spirit to those whom He considers friends. They will not feel orphaned. This Spirit will be His and the Father‘s abiding presence in their hearts. This tells us a lot about the Holy Spirit, the one least known among the Persons in the Trinity. We get to know that the Spirit is a helper and a witness of the Godhead. The Spirit will not teach anything new but will deepen our understanding of the teachings of Jesus.
It is therefore funny how some sects used the Spirit as justification to their unusual teaching and appeals to the Holy Spirit to legitimize their presently made up beliefs. The Spirit is not a spirit of division. It does not seek to demolish what Jesus had already taught or even bring new teachings coming from its own. If we have the Spirit, following Jesus is easy. Because the Spirit is a witness of Jesus. It automatically recognizes Jesus‘ own.
1st Reading: Acts 16:22-34
So they set the crowd against them; and the officials tore the clothes off Paul and Silas and ordered them to be flogged. And after inflicting many blows on them, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to guard them safely. Upon receiving these instructions, he threw them into the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
About midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, a severe earthquake shook the place, rocking the prison to its foundations. Immediately, all the doors flew open and the chains of all the prisoners fell off. The jailer woke up to see the prison gates wide open. Thinking that the prisoners had escaped, he drew his sword to kill himself, but Paul shouted to him, ”Do not harm yourself! We are all still here.”
The jailer asked for a light, then rushed in, and fell at the feet of Paul and Silas. After he had secured the other prisoners, he led them out and asked, ”Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They answered, ”Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you, and your household, will be saved.” Then they spoke the word of God to him and to all his household.
Even at that hour of the night, the jailer took care of them and washed their wounds; and he, and his whole household, were baptized at once. He led them to his house, spread a meal before them and joyfully celebrated with his whole household his new found faith in God.
Gospel: Jn 16:5-11
Jesus said to his disciples: ”But now I am going to the One who sent me, and none of you asks me where I am going; instead you are overcome with grief, because of what I have said.
”Believe me, it is better for you that I go away, because as long as I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go away, I will send him to you, and when he comes, he will vindicate the truth before a sinful world; and he will vindicate the paths of righteousness and justice.
”What is the world‘s sin, in regard to me? Disbelief. What is the path of righteousness? It is the path I walk, by which I go to the Father; and you shall see me no more. What is the path of justice? It is the path on which the prince of this world will always stand condemned.”
The earth is not the end of our destination but the starting point of our journey. That is why Jesus could not stay on earth forever. He has to move on in order to complete His itinerary. He has to go back to His Father in heaven, back where it all begun. It is back to the Father who sent His only Son to the world to redeem it. But His disciples could not even ask Him where He is going. They were locked up in their grief. They focused on their loss and not on what they could gain when Jesus continues on in His journey.
It‘s funny that sometimes we focus on the drama rather than on the bigger picture. We so like to wallow in tears and self-pity. But Jesus will have none of it. The role of the Spirit will not unfold in human history if He stays. And so, there are things that need to be done no matter what the cost because it will usher something that will be for the greater good. Drama is good, but we need a certain dose of reality sometimes.
1st Reading: Acts 17:15, 22—18:1
Paul was taken as far as Athens by his escort, who then returned to Beroea with instructions for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible.
Then Paul stood up in the Areopagus hall and said, ”Athenian citizens, I note that, in every way, you are very religious. As I walked around, looking at your shrines, I even discovered an altar with this inscription: To an unknown God. Now, what you worship as unknown, I intend to make known to you.
God, who made the world and all that is in it, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, being as he is Lord of heaven and earth. Nor does his worship depend on anything made by human hands, as if he were in need. Rather, it is he who gives life and breath and everything else, to everyone. From one stock he created the whole human race, to live throughout all the earth, and he fixed the time and the boundaries of each nation. He wanted them to seek him by themselves, even if it was only by groping for him, that they succeed in finding him.
Yet, he is not far from any one of us. For, in him, we live and move, and have our being; as some of your poets have said: for we, too, are his offspring. If we are indeed God‘s offspring, we ought not to think of divinity as something like a statue of gold or silver or stone, a product of human art and imagination.
But now, God prefers to overlook this time of ignorance; and he calls on all people to change their ways. He has already set a day, on which he will judge the world with justice through a man he has appointed. And, so that all may believe it, he has just given a sign, by raising this man from the dead.”
When they heard Paul speak of a resurrection from death, some made fun of him, while others said, ”We must hear you on this topic some other time.” At that point Paul left. But a few did join him, and believed. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus court, a woman named Damaris, and some others. After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth.
Gospel: Jn 16:12-15
Jesus said to his disciples: ”I still have many things to tell you, but you cannot bear them now. When he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into the whole truth.
”For he will not speak of his own authority, but will speak what he hears, and he will tell you about the things which are to come. He will take what is mine and make it known to you; in doing this, he will glorify me. All that the Father has is mine; for this reason, I told you that the Spirit will take what is mine, and make it known to you.”
Sometimes there are still many things to tell while time is running out. It is only when moments are counted that the urgency is felt. But then again, you realize that it is not the act of telling that is important. The hearer must be ready too in order to understand it. Or else, it is just one among the many words that they will conveniently forget. What they have will be a vague recollection of something that you once told them. The heart is not ready to receive it yet.
And so Jesus knew when to stop. He knows that His followers could not bear His words for the moment. But it does not mean that He abandons His plan to teach and instruct them. He will leave the task to the Spirit. The Spirit will continue what Jesus has started. It is in such moment as this that helpers are most welcome. The Spirit Helper will fill what Jesus could not accomplish in human time. It is because the Trinity is a community of love that Jesus could bank on the support of the other Persons in the Trinity. It is not a task solely of his own. He has a loving community that supports Him.
St. Bede the Venerable
St. Gregory VII
St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi
1st Reading: Acts 18:1-8
After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There, he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, following a decree of the Emperor Claudius, which ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to visit them, and then stayed and worked with them, because they shared the same trade of tent making. Every Sabbath, he held discussions in the synagogue, trying to convince both Jews and Greeks.
When Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul was able to give himself wholly to preaching, and proving to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. One day, when they opposed him and insulted him, he shook the dust from his clothes in protest, saying, ”Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. I am not to blame if, from now on, I go to the non-Jews.”
So Paul left there and went to the house of a God-fearing man named Titus Justus, who lived next door to the synagogue. A leading man of the synagogue, Crispus, along with his whole household, believed in the Lord. On hearing Paul, many more Corinthians believed and were baptized.
Gospel: Jn 16:16-20
Jesus said to his disciples: ”A little while, and you will see me no more; and then a little while, and you will see me.”
Some of the disciples wondered, ”What does he mean by, ‘A little while, and you will not see me; and then a little while, and you will see me‘? And why did he say, ‘I go to the Father‘?” And they said to one another, ”What does he mean by ‘a little while‘? We don‘t understand.”
Jesus knew that they wanted to question him; so he said to them, ”You are puzzled because I told you that in a little while you will see me no more, and then a little while later you will see me.
”Truly, I say to you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy.”
Little children sometimes display anxiety when they could not see the familiar face of their parents or love ones. They become insecure and afraid. This childish behavior is translated into adult behaviors as well. The fear of separation is as much apart of adult life too. That is why Jesus is preparing His disciples for the momentary separation that will take place ahead. They will not have Him physically present always. Time will come when they have to hold on to His memories in their heart to continue the task at hand. This process will be slow and painful. It is better to start early. And so when the disciples will enter the dark and painful nights of the passion and death of the Lord, they will remember His words and hopefully it will comfort them and sustain them.
St. Philip Neri
1st Reading: Acts 18:9-18
One night, in a vision, the Lord said to Paul, ”Do not be afraid, but continue speaking and do not be silent, for many people in this city are mine. I am with you, so no one will harm you.” So Paul stayed a year and a half in that place, teaching the word of God among them.
When Gallio was governor of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the court. And they accused him, ”This man tries to persuade us to worship God in ways that are against the law.”
Paul was about to speak in his own defense when Gallio said to the Jews, ”If it were a matter of a misdeed or vicious crime, I would have to consider your complaint. But since this is a quarrel about teachings and divine names that are proper to your own law, see to it yourselves: I refuse to judge such matters.” And he sent them out of the court.
Then the people seized Sosthenes, a leading man of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal; but Gallio paid no attention to it.
Paul stayed on with the disciples in Corinth for many days; he then left them and sailed off with Priscilla and Aquila for Syria. And as he was no longer under a vow he had taken, he shaved his head before sailing from Cenchreae.
Gospel: Jn 16:20-23
Jesus said to his disciples: ”Truly, I say to you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy. A woman in childbirth is in distress because her time is at hand. But after the child is born, she no longer remembers her suffering because of her great joy: a human being is born into the world.
”You feel sorrowful now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice; and no one will take your joy from you. When that day comes you will not ask me anything. Truly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.”
Joy, especially those that lasts forever are usually preceded by sorrow. Sorrow lends a back drop where the joy that will come afterward becomes poignant and clear. This is why Jesus prepares His own. He shows them that there is nothing to fear when sorrow visits. It usually does not stay forever. It just prepares the heart to receive the incoming joy.
The joy that comes from God is a joy that no one can take away from us. It is a guaranteed joy. That is why we must be ready for such joy. If sorrow is part of the price we pay, then that sorrow is part of the process of joy. We cannot have one without the other. May we see Christian sorrow in a new light knowing that it is but a precursor of the greater thing that is to come, God‘s joy shared with us.
St. Augustine of Canterbury
1st Reading: Acts 18:23-28
After staying in Antioch some time,
Paul left and traveled in orderly sequence
through the Galatian country and Phrygia,
bringing strength to all the disciples.
A Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria,
an eloquent speaker, arrived in Ephesus.
He was an authority on the Scriptures.
He had been instructed in the Way of the Lord and,
with ardent spirit, spoke and taught accurately about Jesus,
although he knew only the baptism of John.
He began to speak boldly in the synagogue;
but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him,
they took him aside
and explained to him the Way of God more accurately.
And when he wanted to cross to Achaia,
the brothers encouraged him
and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him.
After his arrival he gave great assistance
to those who had come to believe through grace.
He vigorously refuted the Jews in public,
establishing from the Scriptures that the Christ is Jesus.
Gospel: Jn 16:23-28
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.
Until now you have not asked anything in my name;
ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.
“I have told you this in figures of speech.
The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures
but I will tell you clearly about the Father.
On that day you will ask in my name,
and I do not tell you that I will ask the Father for you.
For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me
and have come to believe that I came from God.
I came from the Father and have come into the world.
Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”
Before we leave, we usually make promises to those whom we will leave behind. The sadness of separation is lessened by these promises that are meant to show them that they are still loved and will always be remembered. Jesus in His humanity is no different from us. He felt this compulsion to assure those whom He loved in His earthly life that nothing will change even if He will not be with them forever. And He will leave them something precious behind. They will have the capacity to ask the Father in His name and it will be granted. Then He will leave them a clear teaching of who the Father really is. He gives them an unrestricted access to the Father‘s heart. And since He is going back to the Father and every time they pray to the Father, Jesus will be there for them.