St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

Readings

1 Kings 3:5,7-12    
Psalm 119:57,72,76-77,127-130
Romans 8:28-30     
Matthew 13:44-52

 

What is your new life in Christ worth to you?

Do you love His words more than gold and silver, as we sing in today’s Psalm? Would you, like the characters in the Gospel today, sell all that you have in order to possess the kingdom He promises to us? If God were to grant any wish, would you follow Solomon’s example in today’s First Reading—asking not for a long life or riches, but for wisdom to know God’s ways and to desire His will?

The background for today’s Gospel, as it has been for the past several weeks, is the rejection of Jesus’ preaching by Israel. The kingdom of heaven has come into their midst, yet many cannot see that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promises, a gift of divine compassion given that they—and we, too—might live.

We too must ever discover the kingdom anew, to find it as a treasure - a pearl of great price. By comparison with the kingdom, we must count all else as rubbish (see Philippians 3:8). And we must be willing to give up all that we have—all our priorities and plans—in order to gain it.

Jesus’ Gospel discloses what Paul, in today’s Epistle, calls the purpose of God’s plan (see Ephesians 1:4). That purpose is that Jesus be the firstborn of many brothers.

His words give understanding to the simple, the childlike. As Solomon does today, we must humble ourselves before God, giving ourselves to His service. Let our prayer be for an understanding heart, one that desires only to do His will.

We are called to love God, to delight in His law, and to forsake every false way. And we are to conform ourselves daily ever more closely to the image of His Son.

If we do this, we can approach His altar as a pleasing sacrifice, confident that all things work for the good—that we whom He has justified, will also one day be glorified.

Direct download: Breaking_the_Bread_17th_Sunday_Reflection.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Lecturas:

1 Reyes 3,5. 7-12
Salmo 119,57.72.76-77.127-130
Romanos 8,28-30
Mateo 13, 44-52

 

¿Cuánto vale para ti tu nueva vida en Cristo?

¿Amas sus palabras más que el oro y la plata, como cantamos en el salmo de esta semana? ¿Venderías todo lo que tienes para poseer el reino que Él promete, como los personajes del Evangelio de este domingo?

¿Si Dios te concediera cualquier deseo, seguirías el ejemplo de Salomón en la primera lectura, quien no pidió una larga vida o riquezas, sino sabiduría para conocer los caminos de Dios y desear su voluntad?

El trasfondo del Evangelio de este domingo, como lo ha sido las semanas anteriores, es el rechazo de Israel a la predicación de Jesús.  El reino del cielo ha llegado en medio de ellos. Sin embargo, muchos no pueden ver que Jesús es el cumplimiento de la promesa de Dios; que es un regalo de la compasión divina, dado para que ellos – y nosotros también- puedan vivir.

También nosotros debemos descubrir el reino nuevamente, para encontrarlo como un tesoro, como perla de gran valor.  En comparación con el reino, necesitamos considerar basura todo lo demás (cf. Flp 3,8).

Y debemos estar dispuestos a dejar todo lo que tenemos – todas nuestras prioridades y planes- a fin de ganarlo.El Evangelio de Jesús revela lo que San Pablo, en la epístola de esta semana, llama el designio de Dios (cf. Ef 1,4) .  Ese designio es que Jesús sea el primogénito de muchos hermanos.

Sus palabras dan entendimiento a los sencillos, a los que son como niños.  Como Salomón en la lectura de esta semana, debemos humillarnos ante Dios, entregándonos a su servicio. Pidamos en nuestra oración un corazón sabio, que desee solamente hacer su voluntad.

Estamos llamados a amar a Dios, a deleitarnos en su Ley y a abandonar todo camino falso.  Y debemos conformarnos cada vez más a la imagen de Su Hijo.

Si hacemos esto, podemos acercarnos a Su altar como sacrificio agradable, confiados en que todo contribuye para bien; seguros de que los que hemos sido justificados por Él, seremos también glorificados un día.

Direct download: A_17_Ordinary_Spn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Lecturas:

Sabiduría 12,13.16-19
Salmo 86,5-6.9-10.15-16
Romanos 8, 26-27
Mateo 13, 24-43

Dios está siempre instruyendo a su pueblo, escuchamos en la primera lectura de esta semana.

¿Y qué quiere hacernos saber? Que se preocupa por todos nosotros; que aunque es un Dios de justicia, aún los que lo desafían y dudan de Él, pueden esperar en su misericordia si regresan a Él arrepentidos.

Esta enseñanza divina continúa en las tres parábolas que Jesús cuenta en el Evangelio de hoy.  Cada una describe el surgimiento del reino de Dios de semillas sembradas por su trabajo y predicación.  El reino crece de manera oculta- como la acción de la levadura en el pan, que es improbable, inesperada.  De igual manera sucede con el gran árbol de mostaza, que crece de la más pequeña de las semillas.

Una vez más, las lecturas de esta semana cuestionan: ¿Porqué Dios permite al mal crecer al lado del bien? ¿Porqué permite que algunos rechacen la Palabra de su reino? Porque, como cantamos en el salmo dominical, Dios es lento a la cólera y rico en bondad.

Jesús nos asegura que es justo: Los malvados y los que inducen a otros al pecado, serán arrojados en el horno encendido al final de los tiempos.  Pero por su paciencia Dios nos enseña que, sobre todo, desea arrepentimiento; y quiere reunir a todas las naciones para que lo adoren y glorifiquen su Nombre.

Aunque no sabemos orar como deberíamos, el Espíritu intercede por nosotros, nos promete San Pablo en la epístola dominical.  Pero primero hemos de volver a Él y llamarlo; debemos comprometernos a dejar que la buena semilla de su Palabra dé frutos en nuestras vidas.

Por tanto, no debemos engañarnos ni descorazonarnos cuando vemos cizaña entre el trigo, verdad y santidad mezclada con error, injusticia y pecado.

Por ahora, Él hace salir su sol sobre buenos y malos (cf. Mt 5,45).  Pero la cosecha se acerca.  Trabajemos para que seamos contados entre los hijos justos, que brillarán como el sol en el reino del Padre.

Direct download: A_16_Ordinary_Spn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:15pm EDT

Readings:

Wisdom 12:13,16-19    
Psalm 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16
Romans 8:26-27    
Matthew 13:24-43

God is always teaching His people, we hear in today’s First Reading.

And what does He want us to know? That He has care for all of us, that though He is a God of justice, even those who defy and disbelieve Him may hope for His mercy if they turn to Him in repentance.

This divine teaching continues in the three parables that Jesus tells in the Gospel today. Each describes the emergence of the kingdom of God from the seeds sown by His works and preaching. The kingdom’s growth is hidden - like the working of yeast in bread; it’s improbable, unexpected—as in the way the tall mustard tree grows from the smallest of seeds.

Again this week’s readings sound a note of questioning: Why does God permit the evil to grow alongside the good? Why does He permit some to reject the Word of His kingdom?

Because, as we sing in today’s Psalm, God is slow to anger and abounding in kindness. He is just, Jesus assures us - evildoers and those who cause others to sin will be thrown into the fiery furnace at the end of the age. But by His patience, God is teaching us—that above all He desires repentance, and the gathering of all nations to worship Him and to glorify His name.

Even though we don’t know how to pray as we ought, the Spirit will intercede for us, Paul promises in today’s Epistle. But first we must turn and call upon Him, we must commit ourselves to letting the good seed of His Word bear fruit in our lives.

So we should not be deceived or lose heart when we see weeds among the wheat, truth and holiness mixed with error, injustice and sin.

For now, He makes His sun rise on the good and the bad (see Matthew 5:45). But the harvest draws near. Let’s work that we might be numbered among the righteous children—who will shine like the sun in the kingdom of the Father.

Direct download: Breaking_the_Bread_16th_Sunday_Reflection.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:15pm EDT

Lecturas:

Isaías 55, 10-11
Salmo 65, 10-14
Romanos 8, 18-23
Mateo 13, 1-23

Las lecturas de hoy, como las de la semana anterior, nos invitan a meditar en la respuesta de Israel a la Palabra de Dios y también en nuestra propia respuesta. ¿Porqué algunos de los que escuchan la palabra del reino, aún no la aceptan como llamada a la conversión y a la fe en Jesús? Esa pregunta subyace de manera especial en el Evangelio de hoy.

Nuevamente vemos, como la semana pasada, que los misterios del reino son revelados a los que abren sus corazones, haciendo de ellos tierra fértil en la que la Palabra puede crecer y dar frutos.

Como cantamos en el salmo de este domingo, en Jesús la Palabra de Dios ha visitado nuestra tierra, para empapar el suelo pedregoso de nuestros corazones con las aguas vivas del Espíritu (cf. Jn 7,38; Ap 22,1).

Como San Pablo nos recuerda en la epístola de esta semana (cf. Rm 5,5; 8,15-16) la primicia de la Palabra es el Espíritu de amor y adopción derramado en nuestros corazones en el bautismo, que nos hizo hijos de Dios. En él somos hechos una “nueva creación” (cf. 2 Co 5,17),  primicias de un cielo nuevo y una tierra nueva (cf. 2P 3,13).

Desde que los primeros hombres rechazaron la Palabra de Dios, la creación ha sido esclavizada de lo vano (cf. Gn 3,17-19; 5.29).  Pero la Palabra de Dios no sale para volver a Él sin resultado, como escuchamos en la primera lectura del domingo.

Su Palabra espera nuestra respuesta.  Debemos demostrar que somos hijos de esa Palabra.  Debemos permitir que esa Palabra realice la voluntad de Dios en nuestras vidas.  Como Jesús nos advierte, debemos cuidar que no sea arrebatada por el diablo o ahogada por las preocupaciones mundanas.

En la Eucaristía, Jesús, la Palabra, se nos da a Sí mismo como pan que alimenta.  Lo hace para que podamos ser fértiles, dando frutos de santidad.

Y así esperamos la coronación del año, la gran cosecha del Día del Señor (cf. Mc 4,29; 2P 3,10; Ap 14,15), cuando Su Palabra haya alcanzado el fin para el cual fue enviada.

Direct download: A_15_Ordinary_Spn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EDT

Readings:

Isaiah 55:10-11  
Psalm 65:10-14
Romans 8:18-23   
Matthew 13:1-23

Today’s readings, like last week’s, ask us to meditate on Israel’s response to God’s Word—and our own. Why do some hear the word of the kingdom, yet fail to accept it as a call to conversion and faith in Jesus? That question underlies today’s Gospel, especially.

Again we see, as we did last week, that the kingdom’s mysteries are unfolded to those who open their hearts, making of them a rich soil in the which the Word can grow and bear fruit.

As we sing in today’s Psalm, in Jesus, God’s Word has visited our land, to water the stony earth of our hearts with the living waters of the Spirit (see John 7:38; Revelation 22:1).

The firstfruit of the Word is the Spirit of love and adoption poured into our hearts in baptism, making us children of God, as Paul reminds us in today’s Epistle (see Romans 5:5; 8:15-16). In this, we are made a “new creation” (see 2 Corinthians 5:17), the firstfruits of a new heaven and a new earth (see 2 Peter 3:13).

Since the first humans rejected God’s Word, creation has been enslaved to futility (see Genesis 3:17-19; 5:29). But God’s Word does not go forth only to return to Him void, as we hear in today’s First Reading.

His Word awaits our response. We must show ourselves to be children of that Word. We must allow that Word to accomplish God’s will in our lives. As Jesus warns today, we must take care lest the devil steal it away or lest it be choked by worldly concerns.

In the Eucharist, the Word gives himself to us as bread to eat. He does so that we might be made fertile, yielding fruits of holiness.

And we await the crowning of the year, the great harvest of the Lord’s Day (see Mark 4:29; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 1:10)—when His Word will have achieved the end for which it was sent.

Direct download: Breaking_the_Bread_15th_Sunday_Reflection.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 10:00am EDT

Readings:

Zechariah 9:9-10   
Psalm 145:1-2, 8-11, 13-14
Romans 8:9, 11-13    
Matthew 11:25-30

Jesus is portrayed in today’s Gospel as a new and greater Moses.

Moses, the meekest man on earth (see Numbers 12:3), was God’s friend (see Exodus 34:12,17). Only he knew God “face to face” (see Deuteronomy 34:10). And Moses gave Israel the yoke of the Law, through which God first revealed himself and how we are to live (see Jeremiah 2:20; 5:5).

Jesus too is meek and humble. But He is more than God’s friend. He is the Son who alone knows the Father. He is more also than a law-giver, presenting himself today as the yoke of a new Law, and as the revealed Wisdom of God.

As Wisdom, Jesus was present before creation as the firstborn of God, the Father and Lord of heaven and earth (see Proverbs 8:22; Wisdom 9:9). And He gives knowledge of the holy things of the kingdom of God (see Wisdom 10:10).

In the gracious will of the Father, Jesus reveals these things only to the “childlike”—those who humble themselves before Him as little children (see Sirach 2:17). These alone can recognize and receive Jesus as the just savior and meek king promised to daughter Zion, Israel, in today’s First Reading.

We too are called to childlike faith in the Father’s goodness, as sons and daughters of the new kingdom, the Church.

We are to live by the Spirit we received in baptism (see Galatians 5:16), putting to death our old ways of thinking and acting, as Paul exhorts in today’s Epistle. Our “yoke” is to be His new law of love (see John 13:34), by which we enter into the “rest” of His kingdom.

As we sing in today’s Psalm, we joyously await the day when we will praise His name forever in the kingdom that lasts for all ages. This is the sabbath rest promised by Jesus—first anticipated by Moses (see Exodus 20:8-11), but which still awaits the people of God (see Hebrews 4:9).

Direct download: Breaking_the_Bread_-_14th_Sunday_Reflection.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

Lecturas:

Zacarías 9, 9-10
Salmo 145, 1-2.8-11.13-14
Romanos 8, 9.11-13
Mateo 11, 25-30

En el Evangelio de esta semana, se nos da una semblanza de Jesús como un nuevo y más grande Moisés.

Moisés, el hombre más humilde que había sobre la tierra (cf. Nm 12,3), era amigo de Dios (cf. Éx 34,12.17). Sólo él trataba con Dios “cara a cara” (cf. Dt 34,10). Y Moisés le dio a Israel el yugo de la Ley, por la cual Dios se reveló, primero a Sí mismo y después el modo como debemos vivir (cf. Jr 2,20; 5,5).

También Jesús es manso y humilde. Pero él es más que un amigo de Dios. Es el Hijo, el único que conoce al Padre. También es más que un legislador; hoy se nos presenta como el yugo de una nueva Ley y como la Sabiduría revelada de Dios.

Como la Sabiduría que es, Jesús estaba presente desde antes de la creación del mundo, como el primogénito de Dios, el Padre y Señor del cielo y de la tierra (cf. Pr 8,22; S 9,9). Y nos da el conocimiento de las cosas santas del reino de Dios (cf. S 10,10).

De acuerdo a la gentil voluntad del Padre, Jesús revela estas cosas sólo a los que son como niños; a los que se humillan ante Él como niños pequeños (cf. Si 2,17). Solamente ellos pueden reconocer y recibir a Jesús como el salvador justo, como el rey humilde prometido a la hija Sión, Israel, en la primera lectura de este domingo.

También nosotros estamos llamados a tener esa fe de niños y a confiar en la bondad del Padre, como hijos del nuevo reino: la Iglesia.

En la epístola de este domingo, San Pablo nos exhorta a vivir por el Espíritu que recibimos en el bautismo (cf. Ga 5,16), sepultando nuestros viejos modos de pensar y actuar. Nuestro “yugo” es cumplir Su nueva ley de amor (cf. Jn 13,34), por la cual entramos en el “resto” de su reino.

Como cantamos en el salmo de este domingo, esperamos alegremente el día en que bendeciremos su Nombre para siempre, en el reino que perdura por los siglos. Este es el descanso sabático prometido por Jesús, anticipado primero por Moisés (cf. Ex 20,8-11), pero que aún queda para el pueblo de Dios (Hb 4,9).

Direct download: A_14_Ordinary_Spn_17.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

2 Kgs 4:8–11, 14–16  

Ps 89:2–3,16–19
Rom 6:3–4,8–11  

Mt 10:37–42

 

The Liturgy this week continues to instruct us in the elements of discipleship. We’re told that even the most humble among us have a share in the mission Christ gives to His Church.

We’re not all called to the ministry of the Apostles, or to be prophets like Elisha in today’s First Reading. But each of us is called to a holy life (see 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:3).

At Baptism our lives were joined forever to the cross of Christ, as Paul tells us in today’s Epistle. Baptized into His death, we’re to renounce sin and live for God in Christ Jesus.

We are to follow Him, each of us taking up our personal cross, as Jesus says in today’s Gospel. That doesn’t mean we will all be asked to suffer a martyr’s death. But each of us is called to self-denial, to the offering of our lives in service of God’s plan.

Jesus must be elevated to first place in our lives—above even our closest bonds of kinship and love. By Baptism, we’ve been made part of a new family—the kingdom of God, the Church. We are to proclaim that kingdom with our lives, bringing our fathers and mothers, and all men and women to live as “little ones” under the fatherhood of God and the kingship of the Holy One.

We do this by opening our hearts and homes to the service of the Lord, following the Shunnamite woman’s example in today’s First Reading. As Jesus tells us, we’re to receive others—not only prophets, but also little children, the poor and the imprisoned—as we receive Christ himself (see Matthew 18:5; 25:31–46).

As we sing in today’s Psalm, we are to testify to His favors and kindness in our lives.

We’re to hold fast to the promise—that if we have died with Christ, we shall also live, that if we lose our lives for His sake, we shall find our reward, and walk forever in His countenance.

Direct download: Breaking_the_Bread_-_13th_Sunday_Reflection.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 4:10pm EDT

Readings:

Jeremiah 20:10-13   

Psalm 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35
Romans 5:12-15  

Matthew 10:26-33

 

Our commitment to Christ will be put to the test.

We will hear whispered warnings and denunciations, as Jeremiah does in today’s First Reading. Even so-called friends will try to trap and trip us up.

For His sake we will bear insults and be made outcasts—even in our own homes, we hear in today’s Psalm.

As Jeremiah tells us, we must expect that God will challenge our faith in Him, and probe our minds and hearts, to test the depths of our love.

“Do not be afraid,” Jesus assures us three times in today’s Gospel.

Though He may permit us to suffer for our faith, our Father will never forget or abandon us. As Jesus assures us today, everything unfolds in His Providence, under His watchful gaze—even the falling of the tiniest sparrow to the ground. Each one of us is precious to Him.

Steadfast in this faith, we must resist the tactics of Satan. He is the enemy who seeks the ruin of our soul in Gehenna, or hell.

We are to seek God, as the Psalmist says. Zeal for the Lord’s house, for the heavenly kingdom of the Father, should consume us, as it consumed Jesus (see Jn 2:17). As Jesus bore the insults of those who blasphemed God, so should we (see Rm 15:3).

By the gracious gift of himself, Jesus bore the transgressions of the world, Paul tells us in today’s Epistle. In rising from the dead, He has shown us that God rescues the life of the poor, that He does not spurn His own when they are in distress. In His great mercy, He will turn toward us, as well. He will deliver us from the power of the wicked.

That is why we proclaim His name from the housetops, as Jesus tells us. That is why we sing praise and offer thanksgiving in every Eucharist. We are confident in Jesus’ promise—that we who declare our faith in Him before others will be remembered before our heavenly Father.

Direct download: x_12_Ordinary.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 9:29am EDT