St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

Jeremiah 23:1–16
Psalms 23:1–6
Ephesians 2:13–18
Mark 6:30–34

As the Twelve return from their first missionary journey in today’s Gospel, our readings continue to reflect on the authority and mission of the Church.

Jeremiah says in the First Reading that Israel’s leaders, through godlessness and fanciful teachings, had misled and scattered God’s people. He promises God will send a shepherd, a king and son of David, to gather the lost sheep and appoint for them new shepherds (see Ezekiel 34:23).

The crowd gathering on the green grass (see Mark 6:39) in today’s Gospel is the start of the remnant that Jeremiah promised would be brought back to the meadow of Israel. The people seem to sense that Jesus is the Lord, the good shepherd (see John 10:11), the king they’ve been waiting for (see Hosea 3:1–5).

Jesus is moved to pity, seeing them as sheep without a shepherd. This phrase was used by Moses to describe Israel’s need for a shepherd to succeed him (see Numbers 27:17). And as Moses appointed Joshua, Jesus appointed the Twelve to continue shepherding His people on earth.

Jesus had said there were other sheep who did not belong to Israel’s fold, but would hear His voice and be joined to the one flock of the one shepherd (see John 10:16). In God’s plan, the Church is to seek out first the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and then to bring all nations into the fold (see Acts 13:36; Romans 1:16).

Paul, too, in today’s Epistle, sees the Church as a new creation, in which those nations who were once far off from God are joined as “one new person” with the children of Israel.

As we sing in today’s Psalm, through the Church, the Lord, our good shepherd, still leads people to the verdant pastures of the kingdom, to the restful waters of baptism; He still anoints with the oil of confirmation, and spreads the Eucharistic table before all people, filling their cups to overflowing.

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Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Jeremías 23, 1-6
Salmo 23, 1-6
Efesios 2, 13-18
Marcos 6, 30-34

Mientras el evangelio de hoy nos muestra a los Doce regresando de su primer viaje misionero, el conjunto de las lecturas nos invita a seguir reflexionando sobre la autoridad y misión de la Iglesia.

El profeta Jeremías dice, en la primera lectura, que los líderes de Israel extraviaron al Pueblo Elegido, pues se olvidaron de Dios y dieron enseñanzas falsas. Promete que Yahvé mandará un pastor, un rey descendiente de David, para reunir la ovejas extraviadas y para darles nuevos pastores (cfr. Ez 34, 23).

La muchedumbre sentada sobre la hierba verde que nos describe el evangelio de este domingo (cfr. Mc 6,39), es ya parte de aquel resto del Pueblo de Dios al que se refería Jeremías, profetizando de él que regresaría al valle de Israel (cfr. Jr 23,3). La gente parece percibir que Jesús es el Señor, el Buen Pastor (Jn.10.11), el Rey a quien estaban esperando (Os 3, 1-5).

Jesús se conmueve al ver a la gente “como ovejas sin pastor” (Mc 6,34). Esta frase ya había sido ocupada por Moisés, al hablar de la necesidad que tenía Israel de un pastor para sucederle (Nm 27,17). Y así como Moisés nombró a Josué, Jesús escogió a los Doce para que siguieran pastoreando a su pueblo en la tierra.

Jesús afirmó que habían otras ovejas que no pertenecían redil de Israel, pero que escucharían su voz para unirse al único rebaño del único Pastor (cfr. Jn 10,16). En el plan de Dios, la Iglesia debía buscar primero a las ovejas extraviadas de Israel y después atraer a todas las naciones al redil (Hch 13, 44; Rm 1, 16).

También San Pablo, en la epístola de hoy, ve la Iglesia como una nueva creación, en la que aquellas naciones que antes estuvieron lejos de Dios, ahora se unirán como “una sola persona” con los hijos de Israel.

Como cantamos en el salmo de hoy, por medio de la Iglesia, el Señor, nuestro Buen Pastor, sigue conduciendo a su pueblo hacia los prados de hierba fresca del Reino, a las tranquilas aguas del bautismo. Nos sigue nos ungiendo con el aceite de la confirmación y reparte a todos el banquete eucarístico, mientras llena nuestra copa hasta los bordes.

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Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Readings:

Amos 7:12-15

Psalms 85:9-14

Ephesians 1:3-14

Mark 6:7-13

 In commissioning the apostles in today's Gospel, Jesus gives them, and us, a preview of His Church's mission after the resurrection.

 His instructions to the Twelve echo those of God to the twelve tribes of Israel on the eve of their exodus from Egypt. The Israelites likewise were sent out with no bread and only one set of clothes, wearing sandals and carrying a staff (see Exodus 12:11; Deuteronomy 8:2-4). Like the Israelites, the apostles are to rely solely on the providence of God and His grace.

 Perhaps, also, Mark wants us to see the apostles' mission, the mission of the Church, as that of leading a new exodus - delivering peoples from their exile from God and bringing them to the promised land, the kingdom of heaven.

 Like Amos in today's First Reading, the apostles are not "professionals," who earn their bread by prophesying. Like Amos, they are simply men (see Acts 14:15) summoned from their ordinary jobs and sent by God to be shepherds of their brothers and sisters.

 Again this week, we hear the theme of rejection: Amos experiences it, and Jesus warns the apostles that some will not welcome or listen to them. The Church is called, not necessarily to be successful, but only to be faithful to God's command. 

 With authority and power given to it by Jesus, the Church proclaims God's peace and salvation to those who believe in Him, as we sing in today's Psalm.

 This word of truth, this gospel of salvation, is addressed to each of us, personally, as Paul proclaims in today's Epistle. In the mystery of God's will, we have been chosen from before the foundation of the world - to be His sons and daughters, to live for the praise of His glory.

 Let us, then, give thanks for the Church today, and for the spiritual blessings He has bestowed upon us. Let us resolve to further the Church's mission - to help others hear the call to repentance and welcome Christ into their lives.

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Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Lecturas:
Amós 7, 12-15
Salmo 85, 9-14
Efesios 1, 3-14
Marcos 6, 7-13

Comentemos primero el evangelio de hoy. En el encargo que hace Cristo a sus apóstoles, les da (y a nosotros también) un bosquejo de lo que será la misión de la Iglesia después de la resurrección.

Sus instrucciones a los Doce nos recuerdan aquellas que Yahvé dio a las doce tribus de Israel en las vísperas de su éxodo de Egipto. Los israelitas también fueron enviados sin pan y con una sola túnica, llevando sandalias y un bastón (cfr. Éx 12,11; Dt 8, 2-4). Como aquellos israelitas, los apóstoles tienen que confiar solamente en la providencia de Dios y su gracia.

Posiblemente, Marcos nos quiera enseñar también que la misión de los apóstoles, la misión de la Iglesia, es servir como guía en un nuevo éxodo, rescatando a los pueblos de su exilio de Dios y llevándolos a la tierra prometida: el Reino de los Cielos.

Como Amós en la primera lectura, los apóstoles no son “profesionales” que ganan el pan por profetizar. Como Amós, son hombres sencillos (Cfr Hch 14, 15) convocados desde sus trabajos ordinarios y enviados por Dios a ser pastores de sus hermanos y hermanas.

En esta semana nuevamente escuchamos el tema del rechazo: Amós lo experimenta y Jesús advierte a sus apóstoles que algunos no les recibirán bien ni les escucharán. La Iglesia no está necesariamente llamada a ser exitosa, sino solamente a ser fiel al mandamiento de Dios.

Con la autoridad y poder que Jesús le ha dado, la Iglesia proclama la paz de Dios y la salvación de los que creen en Él, como cantamos en el salmo de hoy.

Esta palabra de verdad, este evangelio de salvación, está dirigido personalmente a cada uno de nosotros, como nos dice San Pablo en la epístola de hoy. Dios, en el misterio de su voluntad, nos escogió desde antes de la creación del mundo para ser sus hijos e hijas; para vivir y darle gloria.

Por lo tanto, demos gracias hoy a Dios por la Iglesia y por las bendiciones espirituales que Él nos ha otorgado. Comprometámonos a llevar a cabo la misión de la Iglesia: ayudar a los demás a escuchar la llamada al arrepentimiento y a recibir a Cristo en sus vidas.

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As we’ve walked with the apostles in the Gospels in recent weeks, we’ve witnessed Jesus command the wind and sea, and order a little girl to arise from the dead.

But He seems to meet His match in His hometown of Nazareth. Today’s Gospel is blunt: “He was not able to perform any mighty deed there.”

Why not? Because of the people’s lack of faith. They acknowledged the wisdom of His words, the power of His works. But they refused to recognize Him as a prophet come among them, a messenger sent by God.

All they could see was how much “this man” was like them - a carpenter, the son of their neighbor, Mary, with brothers and sisters.

Of course, Mary was ever-virgin, and had no other children. The Gospel refers to Jesus’ brothers as Paul refers to all Israelites as his brothers, the children of Abraham (see Romans 9:3,7).

That’s the point in today’s Gospel, too. Like the prophet Ezekiel in today’s First Reading, Jesus was sent by God to the rebellious house of Israel, where He found His own brothers and sisters obstinate of heart and in revolt against God. 

The servant is not above the Master (see Matthew 10:24). As His disciples, we too face the mockery and contempt we hear of in today’s Psalm. And isn’t it often hardest to live our faith among those in our own families, those who think they really know us, who define us by the people we used to be - before we chose to walk with Jesus?

As Paul confides in today’s Epistle, insults and hardships are God’s way of teaching us to rely solely on His grace.

Jesus will work no mighty deeds in our lives unless we abandon ourselves to Him in faith. Blessed then are those who take no offense in Him (see Luke 7:23). Instead, we must look upon Him with the eyes of servants - knowing that the son of Mary is also the Lord enthroned in the heavens.

Direct download: B_14_Ordinary.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Readings:

Wisdom 1:13-15, 2:23-24

Psalm 30:2, 4-6, 11-13

2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15

Mark 5:21-24, 35-43

 God, who formed us in His imperishable image, did not intend for us to die, we hear in today's First Reading. Death entered the world through the devil's envy and Adam and Eve's sin; as a result, we are all bound to die.

 But in the moving story in today's Gospel, we see Jesus liberate a little girl from the possession of death.

 On one level, Mark is recounting an event that led the disciples to understand Jesus' authority and power over even the final enemy, death (see 1 Corinthians 15:26). On another level, however, this episode is written to strengthen our hope that we too will be raised from the dead, along with all our loved ones who sleep in Christ (see 1 Corinthians 15:18).

 Jesus commands the girl to "Arise!" - using the same Greek word used to describe His own resurrection (see Mark 16:6). And the consoling message of today's Gospel is that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. If we believe in Him, even though we die, we will live (see John 15:25-26).

 We are called to have the same faith as the parents in the Gospel today - praying for our loved ones, trusting in Jesus' promise that even death cannot keep us apart. Notice the parents follow Him even though those in their own house tell them there is no hope, and even though others ridicule Jesus' claim that the dead have only fallen asleep (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

 Already in baptism, we've been raised to new life in Christ. And the Eucharist, like the food given to the little girl today, is the pledge that He will raise us on the last day. 

 We should rejoice, as we sing in today's Psalm, that He has brought us up from the netherworld, the pit of death. And, as Paul exhorts in today's Epistle, we should offer our lives in thanksgiving for this gracious act, imitating Christ in our love and generosity for others.    

Direct download: B_13_Ordinary.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Lecturas:
Sabiduría 1,13-15, 2, 23-24
Salmo 30, 2, 4-6, 11-13
2 Corintios 8, 7, 9, 13-15
Marcos 5, 21-24, 35-43

 


Por un lado, San Marcos nos narra un acontecimiento que reveló a los discípulos la autoridad y el poder de Jesús, incluso sobre el último enemigo: la muerte (cfr. 1Co 15, 26). Por otro lado, sin embargo, este episodio busca fortalecer en nosotros la esperanza de que también seremos resucitados, junto todos nuestros seres queridos que duermen en Cristo (cfr. 1 Co 15,18).

Jesús manda a la muchacha a “levantarse”, ocupando la misma pa­labra griega que se refiere a su propia resurrección (cfr. Mc 16, 6). Con esta narración, Marcos nos da un con­solador mensaje este domingo: que Jesús es la resurrección y la vida. Si creemos en Él, viviremos aún después de la muerte (cfr. Jn 11, 25-26).

Estamos llamados a tener la misma fe que testimonian los papás a los que se refiere Evangelio de hoy; a pedir por nuestros seres queridos confiando en lo que Cristo ha prometido: que ni siquiera la muerte puede separarnos. Es importante observar que los papás siguen a Jesús aunque los de su casa les dicen que no hay esperanza; aunque otros se burlan de Jesús cuando dice que los muertos nada más están “dormidos” (1 Ts 4, 13-18).

Al recibir el bautismo, hemos resucitado a una vida nueva con Cristo. Y la Eucaristía, como la comida dada a la pequeña muchacha hoy, es promesa de que El nos levantará en el último día.

Como cantamos en el salmo de este día, debemos alegrarnos porque Cristo nos ha sacado de las tinieblas del mundo y de la muerte. Al mismo tiempo, respondiendo a la exhortación que nos hace San Pablo en la epístola de hoy, debemos agradecer este hecho maravilloso con la ofrenda constante de nuestra vida, imitando a Cristo en el amor y generosidad que ofrezcamos a los demás.

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Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Readings:
Is 49: 1–6
Ps 139: 1–3, 13–15
Acts 13:22–26
Lk 1:57–66, 80

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The people in this week’s Gospel are frightened and amazed by the mysterious events surrounding the birth of John. Only his mother and father, Elizabeth and Zechariah, know what this child will be. John the Baptist was fashioned in secret, knit by God in his mother’s womb, as we sing in this Sunday’s Psalm. From the womb he was set apart, formed to be God’s servant, as Isaiah declares in this week’s
First Reading.

The whole story of John’s birth is thick with Old Testament echoes, especially echoes of the story of Abraham. God appeared to Abraham promising that his wife would bear him a son; He announced the son’s name and the role Isaac would play in salvation history (see Genesis 17:1, 16, 19).

The same thing happened to Zechariah and Elizabeth. Through His angel, God announced John’s birth to this righteous yet barren couple. He made them call John a special name—and told them the special part John would play in fulfilling His plan for history (see Luke 1:5–17).

As Paul says in today’s Second Reading, John was to herald the fulfillment of all God’s promises to the children of Abraham (Luke 1:55, 73). John was to bring the word of salvation to all the people of Israel. More than that, he was to be a light to the nations—to all those groping in the dark for God.

We often associate John with his fiery preaching (see Matthew 3:7–12). But there was a deep humility at the heart of his mission. Paul alludes to that when he quotes John’s words about not being worthy to unfasten the sandals of Christ’s feet. John said, “[Christ] must increase. I must decrease” (John 3:30).

We must have that same attitude as we seek to follow Jesus. The repentance John preached was a turning away from sin and selfishness and a turning of our whole hearts to the Father.

We must decrease so that, like John, we can grow strong in the Spirit, until Christ is made manifest in each of us.

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

Readings:

 

 

Ezek 17:22-24                             

Ps 92:2-3, 13-14, 15-16                 

2 Cor 5:6-10  

Mark 4:26-34

 Through the oracles of the Prophet Ezekiel, God gave his people reason to hope. It would have been a cryptic message to his hearers, long centuries before the Lord’s coming. Ezekiel glimpsed a day when the Lord God would place a tree on a mountain in Israel, a tree that would “put forth branches and bear fruit.” Who could have predicted that the tree would be a cross, on the hill of Calvary, and that the fruit would be salvation?

 

 Ezekiel foresees salvation coming to “birds of every kind” -- thus, not just to the Chosen People of Israel, but also to the Gentiles, who will “take wing” through their new life in Christ. God indeed will “lift high the lowly tree,” as he solemnly promises at the conclusion of the passage from the prophet.

 

 Such salvation surpasses humanity’s most ambitious dreams. And so we express our gratitude in the Responsorial Psalm: “Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.” It is indeed good to give thanks, and better still to give thanks with praise. The Psalmist speaks of those who are just upon the earth, but looks to God as the source and measure of justice, of righteousness. Like Ezekiel, he evokes the image of a flourishing tree to describe the lives of the just. The image, again, suggests the cross as the measure of righteousness.

 

 The cross is a challenge to those who would rather “flourish” according to worldly terms. It is a sign of contradiction. And so Saint Paul repeatedly emphasizes, to the Corinthians, the necessity of courage. Our faith makes us strong, and it is proved in our deeds. The Apostle reminds us that we will be judged by the ways our faith manifested itself in works: “so that each may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.”

 

 Faith. Courage. God himself will empower the works he expects from us; though we may freely choose to correspond to his grace.

 

 In the prophetic oracles, in the Psalms that were sung in Jerusalem, he scattered the small seed that sprang up and became the mustard tree, large enough to accommodate all the birds of the sky, just as Ezekiel had foretold.

 

 He gave this doctrine to disciples, as he still does today, in terms they were able to understand, and he provided a full explanation. In the sacraments he provides still more: the grace of faith and the courage we need to live in the world as children of God    

Direct download: B_11_Ordinary.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

In today’s Gospel Jesus has just been healing and casting out demons in Galilee. Along with the crowds, who flock to Him so that He can’t even take a break to eat, come people who do not understand what He is doing. Even His friends think He has lost His mind and needs to be taken away for a while. But the scribes who came down from Jerusalem are not just honestly mistaken; they accuse Him of being possessed by the prince of demons.

The reality is just the opposite. Jesus is revealing Himself as the one promised in our first reading. He is the seed of the woman who has come to crush the head of the demonic serpent. In the parable of the strong man, Jesus reveals that He has come not just to punish the devil but to free those bound by him. As St. Bede explains, “The Lord has also bound the strong man, that is, the devil: which means, He has restrained him from seducing the elect, and entering into his house, the world; He has spoiled his house, and His goods, that is men, because He has snatched them from the snares of the devil, and has united them to His Church.”

The scribes blaspheme by attributing this work of the Holy Spirit to demons. Jesus adds a statement that shocks us at first: “whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness.” That does not mean that there are any limits to the mercy of God (CCC 1864). Rather, the only sin that cannot be forgiven is the deliberate refusal to accept the mercy offered through the Holy Spirit.

Instead, we must imitate those who sat at Jesus’ feet. For, as He said, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

Direct download: B_10_Ordinary.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 5:12pm EDT