bible blog 149

This blog follows the daily bible readings of the Catholic Church and is posted today 9th May for MONDAY 10th MAY

Reading 1,  Acts 16:11-15

11 Sailing from Troas we made a straight run for Samothrace; the next day for Neapolis, 12 and from there for Philippi, a Roman colony and the principal city of that district of Macedonia. 13 After a few days in this city we went outside the gates beside a river as it was the Sabbath and this was a customary place for prayer. We sat down and preached to the women who had come to the meeting. 14 One of these women was called Lydia, a woman from the town of Thyatira who was in the purple-dye trade, and who revered God. She listened to us, and the Lord opened her heart to accept what Paul was saying.

15 After she and her household had been baptised she kept urging us, ‘If you judge me a true believer in the Lord,’ she said, ‘come and stay with us.’ And she would take no refusal.

This passage enacts the spread of the Christian community. First it describes in energetic language the sea adventure which brings Paul and his company to Macedonia. Then it shows the connection with new people being established, that is, via the Jewish diaspora in their open-air gathering. We are told how the good news was preached and received. Finally Luke tells us how a new “household of God” offers hospitality to strangers. The tone of the passage is positive: the adventure is gladly taken; the Jewish community is welcoming; the good news of Jesus is well-received; a woman opens herself and her household to Christ and his apostles. Yet it conceals the difficulties: the voyage is into unknown territory; the only contact is a Jewish group that may be hostile; for reasons not given, the Jewish assembly is female, and might be considered unimportant; Paul acts on the invitation of a woman to stay in her household. The art of Acts gives a vivid picture of the robust, generous, and egalitarian spirit of the Christian mission.

Gospel, John 15:26—16:4a

26 When the Paraclete comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who issues from the Father, he will be my witness. 27 And you too will be witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning. 1 I have told you all this so that you may not fall away. 2. They will expel you from the synagogues, and indeed the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is doing a holy service to God. 3 They will do these things because they have never known either the Father or me. 4 But I have told you all this, so that when the time for it comes you may remember that I told you. I did not tell you this from the beginning, because I was with you.

What is the gift of the Spirit? Even if we have set aside many mythical notions about faith, we may still hold to some idea of supernatural, invisible, “thing” that influences  our lives. John does not do this. Sure, the spirit is sent from God by Jesus, but we have learned that “being sent” describes the historical reality of understanding our lives as expressions of God’s purpose. When Jesus talks about sending the spirit, he means that after his death, his disciples will experience their lives as re-created, made new, to witness to God’s truth and to communicate his love. In particular, this passage describes that reality as the “spirit of truth.” “Aletheaia” the Greek word for truth, means literally “Unconcealment.” It suggests that one aspect of the new life of the disciples will be their freedom from the habitual lies of false religion and of power, as Jesus was. For this reason they will not be popular.

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