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Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Tuesday of the Second Week of Easter

Reading 1 (Acts 4:32-37)

The community of believers was of one heart and mind,
and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.
With great power the Apostles bore witness
to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,
and great favor was accorded them all.
There was no needy person among them,
for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale,
and put them at the feet of the Apostles,
and they were distributed to each according to need.
Thus Joseph, also named by the Apostles Barnabas
(which is translated a son of encouragement"),
a Levite, a Cypriot by birth,
sold a piece of property that he owned,
then brought the money and put it at the feet of the Apostles.

Gospel (Jn 3:7-15)

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
"'You must be born from above.'
The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes,
but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes;
so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."
Nicodemus answered and said to him,
'How can this happen?"
Jesus answered and said to him,
"You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this?
Amen, amen, I say to you,
we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen,
but you people do not accept our testimony.
If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe,
how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?
No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."


 

Written by Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.

I. THEME: The Holy Spirit is at work in individuals and community.

            When people follow a same ideal or a purpose, they are easy to help each other; such as: the Association of Old or New Testament scholars; the National Collegiate Athletic Association; the Alcoholics Anonymous Organization, etc. The Catholic believers have the same God, Christ, Holy Spirit, the final destination and the law. The Holy Spirit acts in both individuals and community to unite all together and to motivate all activities for the ideal which all are following.

            Today readings emphasize the role of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus promised to ask the Father to send him to his apostles after Jesus’ resurrection. In the first reading, by the Holy Spirit’s work and guidance, the apostles courageously witnessed for Christ, the first generation of the believers eliminated individual ownership, put everything in common, and followed the apostles’ distribution. In the Gospel, Jesus declared to Nicodemus that the Holy Spirit works like the wind, no one can predict his power, direction and works.

             

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: The unity of the first community

1.1/ The unity was expressed through the fact that everyone had the same thought and ideal: There are many proverbs which emphasize the importance of the unity, such as: “Unity brings life; separation brings death;” or “unity creates strength.” Members of a community must have the same ideal, thought and direction in order for their community to grow; if not, they shall be divided and each goes in different direction, they can’t achieve great things, and it is very difficult for them to reach the goal which they are aiming at.

            The early faithful communities must have these characters to overcome fear, discrimination and violence, and to have strength to bring the Good News to all nations. The author of the Acts described the unity of the early community as follows: “The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.”

            To have this kind of unity isn’t from human beings, but from God’s power as the author clearly stated: “With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all.”

1.2/ The unity was expressed through “putting everything for a common use”: This is the ideal which many groups advocated, such as: Islamism, Communism and liberation theology. The author of the Acts generally descibed the early community and gave an example as follows: “There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale,and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.Thus Joseph, also named by the apostles Barnabas, a Levite, a Cypriot by birth,sold a piece of property that he owned, then brought the money and put it at the feet of the apostles.”

            In order to reach this ideal model, all members of the community must:

            (1) Follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance and works: Everyone has a different character; but all have the same Holy Spirit who acts in everything and in everyone.

            (2) Follow the guidance of wise and good leaders: All other ideal groups failed because they trusted their leaders too much. Not all leaders are wise and just. If all the community’s possession falls into the hands of a leader who cares only for himself, the community will die of hungry!

            (3) Need to avoid the extreme attitude and “everyone does his own way:” The extreme and idealism attitude shall cause angry and separation in the community because not all members have a capacity to do as such. The “everyone does his own way” attitude will also lead a community to separation.

2/ Gospel: People need to be reborn by the Holy Spirit to understand the mysteries of the heavenly kingdom.

2.1/ Need to be reborn by the Holy Spirit:

            (1) No one can predict the Holy Spirit’s works: Jesus said to Nicodemus: “Do not be amazed that I told you, 'You must be born from above.'The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

            The wind can bring refreshment for people or creates energy; but it can also destroy houses and cause death for human beings. No one can know for sure where the wind comes from and where it shall head to; because it can change direction and increase its speed anytime. Similarly with the Holy Spirit’s activities in men; he can change and lead an individual or a community to a place or a work which they shall never think of.

            (2) Nicodemus asked Jesus: “"How can this happen?"Jesus answered and said to him, "You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this?Amen, amen, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony.If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?”

2.2/ People need to be reborn by the Holy Spirit to understand the mysteries of the heavenly kingdom: People can only understand and believe what is in their limitation. To understand God and the mysteries which belong to Him, people need God’s help through His giving of the Holy Spirit. Jesus listed out two mysteries for Nicodemus:

            (1) The mystery of Incarnation: “No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.” To believe in both Christ’s divine and human nature, people need to be enlightened by the Holy Spirit.

            (2) The mystery of Redemption through Jesus’ Passion and Death: “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” People couldn’t understand why a powerful God wanted His Only Son to go through the way of the cross to redeem people. The Holy Spirit can enlighten human mind to understand this mystery.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - When we receive the sacrament of Baptism, we were sealed with the Holy Spirit. We need to live according to his guidance. He shall help us to understand the mysteries of the heavenly kingdom and lead us to the whole truth.

            - The gifts which the Holy Spirit bestowed on us are for building up the community. Each individual needs the Holy Spirit’s guidance to contribute to the upbuilding and the extension of God’s kingdom.

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