Bible Diary for May 5th – 11thBible Diary
3rd Sunday of Easter
1st Reading: Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41:
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.” 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.
2nd Reading: Rev 5:11-14:
I went on looking; I heard the noise of a multitude of angels, gathered around the throne, the living creatures and the elders, numbering millions of millions, crying out with a loud voice: Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor, glory and praise. Then, I heard the voice of the whole universe, heaven, earth, sea, and the place of the dead; every creature cried out: To him who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb, be praise, honor, glory and power, for ever and ever. And the four living creatures said, Amen, while the elders bowed down and worshiped.
Gospel: Jn 21:1-19:
After this, Jesus revealed himself to the disciples by the Lake of Tiberias. He appeared to them in this way: Simon Peter, Thomas who was called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two other disciples were together; and Simon Peter said to them, “I’m going fishing.” They replied, “We will come with you.” And they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When the sun came up, Jesus was standing on the shore, but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.
Jesus called out, “Friends, have you anything to eat?” They answered, “Nothing.” Then he said to them, “Throw the net on the right side of the boat and you will find something.” When they had lowered the net, they were not able to pull it in because of the great number of fish. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” At these words, “It’s the Lord!” Simon Peter put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and jumped into the water.
The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish; they were not far from land, about a hundred meters. When they landed, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it, and some bread. (…) Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” (…) This was the third time that Jesus revealed himself to his disciples after rising from the dead. After they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these do?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” And Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
A second time Jesus said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” And Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Look after my sheep.” And a third time he said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was saddened because Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus then said, “Feed my sheep! (…) Jesus said this to make known the kind of death by which Peter was to glorify God. And he added, “Follow me!”
What is your answer if Jesus asks you the same questions? Can you truly say you totally love him? You can say it with honesty and humility if you have been actually following Jesus in his journey, in our case, in the gospel. Hence, you should be familiar with the gospel and make relevant conclusions. Lord, give me an enlightened heart and mind that I may follow and love you truly. I know you want the best of me, the whole of me, without reservation. You know I am weak and sinful, but you still ask me to express my love for you in public, in the church and in the family.
1st Reading: Acts 6:8-15
Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people. Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen, Cyreneans, and Alexandrians, and people from Cilicia and Asia, came forward and debated with Stephen, but they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. Then they instigated some men to say, “We have heard him speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God.”
They stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes, accosted him, seized him, and brought him before the Sanhedrin. They presented false witnesses who testified, “This man never stops saying things against this holy place and the law. For we have heard him claim that this Jesus the Nazorean will destroy this place and change the customs that Moses handed down to us.” All those who sat in the Sanhedrin looked intently at him and saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
Gospel: Jn 6:22-29:
Next day, the people, who had stayed on the other side, realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples; but rather, the disciples had gone away alone. Other boats from Tiberias landed near the place where all these people had eaten the bread. When they saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Master, when did you come here?”
Jesus answered, “Truly, I say to you, you look for me, not because of the signs which you have seen, but because you ate bread and were satisfied. Work then, not for perishable food, but for the lasting food which gives eternal life. The Son of Man will give it to you, for he is the one on whom the Father has put his mark.” Then the Jews asked him, “What shall we do? What are the works that God wants us to do?” And Jesus answered them, “The work God wants is this: that you believe in the One whom God has sent.
Many people look for Jesus. He fed them the other day. When Jesus sees them coming again at Capernaum, he asks them to purify their motives. They should not be looking from him food to eat. That is not his main business, but to believe in him. They should level up their priorities. God has proven that he takes care of their material needs. Now the people should recognize that God wants them also to avail of the spiritual food he is offering, which is imperishable. This food is none other than believing that Jesus is God-sent to nourish them.
If they do not accept Jesus in their lives, they will remain on the lower and material level forever. Jesus wants them to experience fullness of life with God. Many of us get stuck with material benefits for joining groups with their charismatic leaders promising us material benefits. We are not aware that if we fall into their scheme, they got richer. We benefit a little. Jesus wants religion to be focused on our relationship with Jesus and with God, not on the tangible material benefits. Religion that does not deepen our spiritual life is a false religion.
1st Reading: Acts 7:51—8:1a:
Stephen said to the people, the elders, and the scribes: “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always oppose the Holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors. Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They put to death those who foretold the coming of the righteous one, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become. You received the law as transmitted by angels, but you did not observe it.”
When they heard this, they were infuriated, and they ground their teeth at him. But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and Stephen said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him together.
They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”; and when he said this, he fell asleep.
Now Saul was consenting to his execution.
Gospel: Jn 6:30-35:
They then said, “Show us miraculous signs, that we may see and believe you. What sign do you perform? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert; as Scripture says: They were given bread from heaven to eat.” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven. My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. The bread God gives is the One who comes from heaven and gives life to the world.” And they said to him, “Give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall never be hungry, and whoever believes in me shall never be thirsty.
Jesus is given a hard time by his opponents. Before they come to believe in him, he must first perform a miracle for them, not just one miracle but many. They demand many signs. They are not really interested. Nothing will be enough for them. The story is written for us believers to deepen our belief in Jesus. He is the bread of life. Bread in Hebrew is lehem which also means food. Jesus is the source of our nourishment. Like the manna in the desert that comes from the Father in heaven, he, too, comes down from heaven, sent by the Father.
While something tangible is involved for it passes through our mouths, Jesus offers much more. The liturgists guide us to recognize the food as none other than Jesus when we participate in the Holy Eucharist. Jesus comes to us in his word and sacrament. To live fully as Christians, we need to listen to his words in the Liturgy of the Word and then partake in the Holy Communion. There is no better way to be nourished than this. Full participation in the Eucharistic celebration is the full expression of our faith in Jesus.
1st Reading: Acts 8:1b-8:
There broke out a severe persecution of the Church in Jerusalem, and all were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria, except the Apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made a loud lament over him. Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the Church; entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment.
Now those who had been scattered went about preaching the word. Thus Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ to them. With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing. For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice, came out of many possessed people, and many paralyzed and crippled people were cured. There was great joy in that city.
Gospel: Jn 6:35-40:
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall never be hungry, and whoever believes in me shall never be thirsty. Nevertheless, as I said, you refuse to believe, even when you have seen. Yet all those whom the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me, I shall not turn away. For I have come from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of the One who sent me. And the will of him who sent me is that I lose nothing of what he has given me, but instead that I raise it up on the last day. This is the will of the Father, that whoever sees the Son and believes in him shall live eternal life; and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Jesus promises to those who come to him because they believe in him shall never hunger or thirst. We should not take his words literally, otherwise, we will get frustrated. Jesus speaks not of material food, but something that fills the spirit. If we get Jesus right, we will not look for anyone else for light and salvation. He is God’s complete revelation. All we want to know about God and our faith is known through Jesus. If someone else explains, we will never be satisfied. We cannot be totally sure. Even experts in religion like the theologians can only approximate who God is.
Satisfaction is not just ingestion or absorption of God’s words and presence in prayer and meditation. It is most of all a process of following and living out his teachings of sharing and living harmoniously with others. It is also living in justice. We will always hunger and thirst for peace, joy, love, security and God if we follow our own flawed designs and wisdom. Engaging with Jesus can only be satisfying when we do it consistently in the context of the community. Contentment is interactive. It is never unidirectional.
1st Reading: Acts 8:26-40:
The angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, “Get up and head south on the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, the desert route.” So he got up and set out. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, that is, the queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury, who had come to Jerusalem to worship, and was returning home. Seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. The Spirit said to Philip, “Go and join up with that chariot.” Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” So he invited Philip to get in and sit with him. This was the Scripture passage he was reading:
Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opened not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who will tell of his posterity? For his life is taken from the earth. Then the eunuch said to Philip in reply, “I beg you, about whom is the prophet saying this? About himself, or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth and, beginning with this Scripture passage, he proclaimed Jesus to him. As they traveled along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look, there is water. What is to prevent my being baptized?”
Then he ordered the chariot to stop, and Philip and the eunuch both went down into the water, and he baptized him. When they came out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, but continued on his way rejoicing. Philip came to Azotus, and went about proclaiming the good news to all the towns until he reached Caesarea.
Gospel: Jn 6:44-51:
No one can come to me unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise him up on the last day. It has been written in the Prophets: They shall all be taught by God. So whoever listens and learns from the Father comes to me. For no one has seen the Father except the One who comes from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Though your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, they died. But here you have the bread from heaven, so that you may eat of it, and not die. I am the living bread from heaven; whoever eats of this bread will live forever. The bread I shall give is my flesh, and I will give it for the life of the world.”
Jesus introduces himself to his disciples as the bread of life. He is life-giving. The manna in the desert, too, came as bread from heaven, but all who ate it died. They were not given the life which Jesus offers. The bread he is talking about refers to his flesh, his body. He offers himself not only to them but for the life of the world. Certainly the world cannot live according to the mind of God if it does not accept his Son as bread of life. We may ask, how disposed are we to accept Jesus as bread? We can be disposed only if we are open to the Father.
It is he who disposes us to Jesus by his words and teachings. Acceptance of Jesus as the bread of life does not come easy. We must be prepared. This we do through catechism and series of instructions. Sermons of the priests can help. Listening to God’s words is still of prime importance. That is why, the holy Mass always begins with the liturgy of the Word and then followed by the liturgy of the Eucharist. The Word of God disposes us to receive Holy Communion.
St. Damien Joseph de Veuster
1st Reading: Acts 9:1-20:
Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that, if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains. On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
He said, “Who are you, sir?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, for they heard the voice but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus. For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank.
There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.” The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is there praying, and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, that he may regain his sight.” But Ananias replied, “Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to imprison all who call upon your name.”
But the Lord said to him, “Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.” So Ananias went and entered the house; laying his hands on him, he said, “Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. He got up and was baptized, and when he had eaten, he recovered his strength.
He stayed some days with the disciples in Damascus, and he began at once to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
Gospel: Jn 6:52-59:
The Jews were arguing among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus replied, “Truly, I say to you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. My flesh is really food, and my blood is truly drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood, live in me, and I in them. Just as the Father, who is life, sent me, and I have life from the Father, so whoever eats me will have life from me. This is the bread from heaven; not like that of your ancestors, who ate and later died. Those who eat this bread will live forever.” Jesus spoke in this way in Capernaum when he taught them in the synagogue.
Jesus’ offer of himself as the flesh to eat provokes reactions from the audience. It is an unusual, if not a weird offer. Never in the history of the Jewish people that a spiritual leader offers himself to be eaten. Yet Jesus is emphatic on their receiving him that they may gain eternal life. Christians have not had any difficulty in accepting Jesus’ offer. They understand it in the context of the Holy Eucharist which is celebrated every day in the churches or oratories. For Christians, especially devout Catholics, reception of the Eucharist is a welcome idea. It cannot be compromised.
They receive it every day whenever possible. The Church teaches that all efforts, all social works, all catechisms and instructions in the church should lead to the reception of this sacrament. Christian identity considers reception of Holy Communion as the peak expression of total conversion to Christ and his Church, called fullness of Christian life. Those who understand the meaning of the Eucharist can show more life, love and compassion to others.
1st Reading: Acts 9:31-42:
The Church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace. She was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit she grew in numbers.
As Peter was passing through every region, he went down to the holy ones living in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been confined to bed for eight years, for he was paralyzed.
Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and make your bed.” He got up at once. And all the inhabitants of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.
Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated is Dorcas). She was completely occupied with good deeds and almsgiving. Now during those days she fell sick and died, so after washing her, they laid her out in a room upstairs. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter got up and went with them. When he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs where all the widows came to him weeping and showing him the tunics and cloaks that Dorcas had made while she was with them.
Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed. Then he turned to her body and said, “Tabitha, rise up.” She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up. He gave her his hand and raised her up, and when he had called the holy ones and the widows, he presented her alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many came to believe in the Lord.
Gospel: Jn 6:60-69:
After hearing this, many of Jesus’ followers said, “This language is very hard! Who can accept it?” Jesus was aware that his disciples were murmuring about this, and so he said to them, “Does this offend you? Then how will you react when you see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, not the flesh. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. But among you there are some who do not believe.”
From the beginning, Jesus knew who would betray him. So he added, “As I have told you, no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.” After this many disciples withdrew and no longer followed him. Jesus asked the Twelve, “Will you also go away?” Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We now believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
It is not only the Jews who object to his being the bread of life, but also many of his followers. They are scandalized and move away. Jesus goes back to his word. Whatever he says, including his claims, are spirit and life. He expects his listeners to believe in his word so that they may have life. The life that Jesus promises is the life that is in heaven, which he left when he became man and which he will find when he ascends into heaven. The consoling part of the passage is the question, “Lord, to whom shall we go?”
Truly this is an affirmation of their belief in the words of Jesus. They cannot dissociate themselves with Jesus when it comes to seeking eternal life. Can Christians also say the same? Some believe in his words as written in the Bible and read in the liturgy, but they do not care about receiving Holy Communion. Practice of faith must be complete, not selective. Here we need the Church to interpret what Jesus means and how we should act upon his words. Not everything is written in the Bible. Sacred traditions must be of help.