Bible Diary for May 26th – June 1stBible Diary
6th Sunday of Easter
St. Philip Neri
1st Reading: Acts 15:1-2, 22-29:
Some persons, who had come from Judea to Antioch, were teaching the brothers in this way, “Unless you are circumcised, according to the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Because of this, there was trouble; and Paul and Barnabas had fierce arguments with them. For Paul told the people to remain as they were, when they became believers. Finally, those who had come from Jerusalem suggested that Paul and Barnabas and some others go up to Jerusalem, to discuss the matter with the apostles and elders. Then the apostles and elders, together with the whole Church, decided to choose representatives from among them, to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. These were Judas, known as Barsabbas, and Silas, both leading men among the brothers.
They took with them the following letter: “Greetings from the apostles and elders, your brothers, to the believers of non-Jewish birth in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. We have heard, that some persons from among us have worried you with their discussions, and troubled your peace of mind. They were not appointed by us. But now, it has seemed right to us, in an assembly, to choose representatives, and to send them to you, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have dedicated their lives to the service of our Lord Jesus Christ. We send you, then, Judas and Silas, who, themselves, will give you these instructions by word of mouth. We, with the Holy Spirit, have decided not to put any other burden on you except what is necessary: You are to abstain from blood; from the meat of strangled animals; and from prohibited marriages. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”
2nd Reading: Rev 21:10-14, 22-23:
He took me up, in a spiritual vision, to a very high mountain, and he showed me the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven, from God. It shines with the glory of God, like a precious jewel, with the color of crystal clear jasper. Its wall, large and high, has twelve gates; stationed at them are twelve angels. Over the gates are written the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. Three gates face the east; three gates face the north; three gates face the south and three face the west. The city wall stands on twelve foundation stones, on which are written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God, Master of the universe, and the Lamb, are themselves its temple. The city has no need of the light of the sun or the moon, since God’s glory is its light and the Lamb is its lamp.
Gospel: Jn 14:23-29:
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. 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.
Are you always afraid of the future? If you have no peace of mind, it may be an indication that you do not love Jesus at all or keep his words. Jesus is present in the poor and the needy. Jesus identifies himself with them. They are all over the place. Loving Jesus is showing solidarity with them. Lord, many times I realize I do not really love you because I am always thinking of my own interest. I don’t care to help the poor. I am always conscious of protecting my things and my earnings, forgetting your words that I should be charitable.
St. Augustine of Canterbury
1st Reading: Acts 16:11-15:
We set sail from Troas, making a straight run for Samothrace, and on the next day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, a leading city in that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We spent some time in that city. On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate along the river where we thought there would be a place of prayer. We sat and spoke with the women who had gathered there. One of them, a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth, from the city of Thyatira, a worshiper of God, listened, and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying. After she and her household had been baptized, she offered us an invitation, “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my home,” and she prevailed on us.
Gospel: Jn 15:26—16:4a:
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.
The Spirit of truth which Jesus refers to is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is about to be sent by him from God the Father. In Greek, the gender of pneuma (spirit) is neuter, but when it is translated into English the gender becomes masculine. The Holy Spirit is described as Helper or paraclete proceeding from the Father. He will strengthen the apostles in times of crisis. It is about being driven away from the synagogues because of their faith in Christ. Worse still, there will be people who would like to eliminate them, thinking that by doing so, they are doing the will of God.
Jesus does not want his followers to give up their faith. They need the Holy Spirit to support them. Not only John the Baptist gave witness to Jesus, the Holy Spirit too will do the same, by pointing out to the people his presence among them. Jesus has refrained from revealing this to them at the beginning. He reserved this information until he was about to ascend into heaven. Do you feel the Holy Spirit is working in you? Are you strong in surmounting rejection and threats?
1st Reading: Acts 16:22-34:
The crowd in Philippi joined in the attack on Paul and Silas, and the magistrates had them stripped and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After inflicting many blows on them, they threw them into prison and instructed the jailer to guard them securely. When he received these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and secured their feet to a stake.
About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened, there was suddenly such a severe earthquake that the foundations of the jail shook; all the doors flew open, and the chains of all were pulled loose. When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, thinking that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted out in a loud voice, “Do no harm to yourself; we are all here.” He asked for a light and rushed in and, trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas.
Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your household will be saved.” So they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to everyone in his house. He took them in at that hour of the night and bathed their wounds; then he and all his family were baptized at once. He brought them up into his house and provided a meal and with his household rejoiced at having come to faith in God.
Gospel: Jn 16:5-11:
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.
Jesus convinces the disciples of the significance of his ascension. He has to go back to the Father. They must readily admit that there is an end to everything, even the good one, including his being with them as the teacher. Jesus presents his logic on what happens if he does not return to heaven. The Helper, the Holy Spirit, may not come to them. He will not leave the Father, unless Jesus goes back to the Father, after his mission is accomplished. It is the turn of the Holy Spirit to do his job for the disciples as they will be engaged with the world.
The work of the Holy Spirit will be tough. He will vindicate the truth (the teachings of Jesus). He will convict the sinful world which does not accept redemption from Jesus. Jesus identifies the great sin of the world which is their disbelief. There is a grave consequence for not believing in Jesus. There is condemnation. Do you sense the Holy Spirit is mentoring you to believe in Jesus and to choose the path of righteousness? Better stay at the side of Jesus.
1st Reading: Acts 17:15, 22—18:1:
After Paul’s escorts had taken him to Athens, they came away with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible. Then Paul stood up at the Areopagus and said: “You Athenians, I see that in every respect you are very religious. For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.’ What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything. Rather it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything.
He made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions, so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being,’ as even some of your poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’ Since therefore we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the divinity is like an image fashioned from gold, silver, or stone by human art and imagination. God has overlooked the times of ignorance, but now he demands that all people everywhere repent because he has established a day on which he will ‘judge the world with justice’ through a man he has appointed, and he has provided confirmation for all by raising him from the dead.”
When they heard about resurrection of the dead, some began to scoff, but others said, “We should like to hear you on this some other time.” And so Paul left them. But some did join him, and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the Court of the Areopagus, a woman named Damaris, and others with them. After this he left Athens and went to Corinth.
Gospel: Jn 16:12-15:
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.
Jesus does not reveal everything to his disciples in one sitting or in three years. He knows the capacity of his disciples. They might experience spiritual indigestion or data overload. He leaves many materials for reflection and spiritual upliftment to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. They might be absorbed better if done later with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a good ally of Jesus. He does not act on his own volition. He communicates only what he hears from him. He does not invent anything foreign to Jesus.
When the Holy Spirit comes, he will bring everything that Jesus possesses, his riches, his wisdom and everything a missionary needs to fulfill his mission until the end of his life. St. Paul as a missionary is seen as escorted by his fellow missionary in his missionary journey. They must have been guided by the Holy Spirit. Paul speaks under the influence of the Holy Spirit to the Athenian citizens, many of whom are looking for human wisdom like their own famous philosophers. Is the Holy Spirit alive in your heart and mind? Where does your wisdom come from?
St. Joan of Arc
1st Reading: Acts 18:1-8:
Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. He went to visit them and, because he practiced the same trade, stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. Every sabbath, he entered into discussions in the synagogue, attempting to convince both Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began to occupy himself totally with preaching the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus.
When they opposed him and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your heads! I am clear of responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles. “So he left there and went to a house belonging to a man named Titus Justus, a worshiper of God; his house was next to a synagogue. Crispus, the synagogue official, came to believe in the Lord along with his entire household, and many of the Corinthians who heard believed and were baptized.
Gospel: Jn 16:16-20:
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.
The oft repeated expression “a little while,” to be exact seven times, must be significant in the passage. Some disciples cannot figure out what he means, so they ask one another what he really means. They confess their lack of understanding. It tells of the imminence of his going away to heaven and his coming back. We are sure that his departure is a matter of time, but his coming again may take longer, like years, centuries and millennia. His departure will leave them sad. But their sadness will be only for a while. Jesus assures them of his immediate return after his temporary absence.
Paul’s new friends, Aquila and Priscilla have a different story. They are forcibly exiled by Emperor Claudius from Rome. They understood one another in terms of their trade as tentmakers. His new acquaintances must be very sad, because unlike the gospel story, they have no inkling whether they will be allowed to return to Rome, to make a living there again. What is your stance on migration? Do you hope that after separation from loved ones, you will meet them again someday? Can you bank on this hope to make you happy again?
Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
1st Reading: Zep 3:14-18a:
Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! The LORD has removed the judgment against you, he has turned away your enemies; the King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear. On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem: Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, He will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.
Gospel: Lk 1:39-56:
Mary then set out for a town in the hill country of Judah. She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leapt in her womb. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and, giving a loud cry, said, “You are most blessed among women; and blessed is the fruit of your womb! How is it that the mother of my Lord comes to me? The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby within me suddenly leapt for joy. Blessed are you, who believed that the Lord’s word would come true!”
And Mary said, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God, my savior! He has looked upon his servant, in her lowliness, and people, forever, will call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, Holy is his Name! From age to age, his mercy extends to those who live in his presence. He has acted with power and done wonders, and scattered the proud with their plans. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and lifted up those who are downtrodden. He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty. He held out his hand to Israel, his servant, for he remembered his mercy, even as he promised to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.” Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months, and then returned home.
The visitation of Mary to Elizabeth carries a lot of materials for reflection. Visitation brings about personal encounter of persons, two women, two mothers, young and old, a Galilean and Judean, who both believe God’s intervention in their lives. Visitation brings about joy. It is a joy that comes about in the lovely interaction between the two relatives, the younger one with a purpose to help the older one. The younger one, though a greater mother, because she carries in her womb the Son of God, chooses to bend down to serve the lesser mother until her delivery of the prophet John.
The visitation makes Mary compose a song, her Canticle. That song affirms that God has a special heart for the humble, like her, for the poor and the oppressed, by remembering his mercy. There is no place in God’s heart those who are oppressive, those who cause people to become poor and destitute and to suffer from many indignities. The visitation should remind us busy people that we should put into our agenda visiting our children in their rooms, in their schools, and also our sick and dying brothers, sisters and friends.
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 16:23b-28:
Truly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. So far you have not asked for anything in my name; ask, and receive, that your joy may be full. I have taught you all these things in veiled language, but the time is coming when I shall no longer speak in veiled language, but will speak to you plainly about the Father. When that day comes, you will ask in my name; and it will not be necessary for me to ask the Father for you, for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me, and you believed that I came from the Father. As I came from the Father, and have come into the world, so I am leaving the world, and going to the Father.”
Jesus admits he talks in a veiled language. This poses a big problem not only to his listeners around but also to his own disciples. He promises that it will be different in due time. Then they will understand everything. But in the passage, there is a different outcome. Whenever they pray to God, it will be granted them. When they will know more about the Father, they will no longer hesitate to ask from him. As of now, they are not asking anything from the Father, because he is a mystery to them. Jesus will make them understand the Father much later.
Language is important in knowing more about the Father. In linguistics, language is a system of relations. It is a system of words put together to produce meaning. Words that are totally disjunctive to one another cannot produce meaning. They cannot lead to understanding and appreciation of what is communicated. For us Christians, it is important to know the language used in our liturgy and in the Bible. It is not always easy to know the meaning because figures of speech are being employed. Poetry is employed to tickle our feelings, not only our minds.