St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

Prepare your heart to celebrate the Scared Triduum with “The Hour” an interview with Scott Hahn on the Paschal Mystery.

Direct download: The_Hour.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:16pm EDT

Easter Sunday

 

Readings:

Acts 10:34, 37-43  |  Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23  |  Colossians 3:1-4  |  John 20:1-9

 Jesus is nowhere visible. Yet today's Gospel tells us that Peter and John "saw and believed."

What did they see? Burial shrouds lying on the floor of an empty tomb. Maybe that convinced them that He hadn't been carted off by grave robbers, who usually stole the expensive burial linens and left the corpses behind.

 But notice the repetition of the word "tomb" - seven times in nine verses. They saw the empty tomb and they believed what He had promised: that God would raise Him on the third day.

 Chosen to be His "witnesses," today's First Reading tells us, the Apostles were "commissioned...to preach...and testify" to all that they had seen - from His anointing with the Holy Spirit at the Jordan to the empty tomb.

 More than their own experience, they were instructed in the mysteries of the divine economy, God's saving plan - to know how "all the prophets bear witness" to Him (see Luke 24:27,44).

 Now they could "understand the Scripture," could teach us what He had told them - that He was "the Stone which the builders rejected," that today's Psalm prophesies His Resurrection and exaltation (see Luke 20:17; Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11).

 We are the children of the apostolic witnesses. That is why we still gather early in the morning on the first day of every week to celebrate this feast of the empty tomb, give thanks for "Christ our life," as today's Epistle calls Him.

 Baptized into His death and Resurrection, we live the heavenly life of the risen Christ, our lives "hidden with Christ in God." We are now His witnesses, too. But we testify to things we cannot see but only believe; we seek in earthly things what is above.

 We live in memory of the Apostles' witness, like them eating and drinking with the risen Lord at the altar. And we wait in hope for what the Apostles told us would come - the day when we too "will appear with Him in glory." 

Direct download: C_Easter.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 4:01pm EDT

Readings:

Isaiah 50:4-7
Psalm 22:8-9, 17-20, 23-24
Philippians 2:6-11
Luke 22:14-23:56

 What is written about Me is coming to fulfillment," Jesus says in today's Gospel (see Luke 22:37).

 Indeed, we have reached the climax of the liturgical year, the highest peak of salvation history, when all that has been anticipated and promised is to be fulfilled.

 By the close of today's long Gospel, the work of our redemption will have been accomplished, the new covenant will be written in the blood of His broken body hanging on the cross at the place called the Skull.

 In His Passion, Jesus is "counted among the wicked," as Isaiah had foretold (see Isaiah 53:12). He is revealed definitively as the Suffering Servant the prophet announced, the long-awaited Messiah whose words of obedience and faith ring out in today's First Reading and Psalm.

 The taunts and torments we hear in these two readings punctuate the Gospel as Jesus is beaten and mocked (see Luke 22:63-65; 23:10-11,16), as His hands and feet are pierced (see Luke 23:33), as enemies gamble for His clothes ( see Luke 23:34), and as three times they dare Him to prove His divinity by saving Himself from suffering (see Luke 23:35,37,39)

 He remains faithful to God's will to the end, does not turn back in His trial. He gives Himself freely to His torturers, confident that, as He speaks in today's First Reading: "The Lord God is My help...I shall not be put to shame."

 Destined to sin and death as children of Adam's disobedience, we have been set free for holiness and life by Christ's perfect obedience to the Father's will (see Romans 5:12-14,17-19; Ephesians 2:2; 5:6).

 This is why God greatly exalted Him. This is why we have salvation in His Name. Following His example of humble obedience in the trials and crosses of our lives, we know we will never be forsaken, that one day we too will be with Him in Paradise (see Luke 23:42). Seeing and Believing 

Direct download: C_Passion.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 4:11pm EDT

Readings:

Isaiah 43:16-21
Psalms 126:1-6
Philippians 3:8-14
John 8:1-11

The Liturgy this Lent has shown us the God of the Exodus. He is a mighty and gracious God, Who out of faithfulness to His covenant has done "great things" for His people, as today's Psalm puts it.
But the "things of long ago," Isaiah tells us in today's First Reading, are nothing compared to the "something new" that He will do in the future.

Today's First Reading and Psalm look back to the marvelous deeds of the Exodus. Both see in the Exodus a pattern and prophecy of the future, when God will restore the fortunes of His people fallen in sin. The readings today look forward to a still greater Exodus, when God will gather in the exiled tribes of Israel which had been scattered to the four winds, the ends of the earth.

The new Exodus that Israel waited and hoped for has come in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Like the adulterous woman in today's Gospel, all have been spared by the Lord's compassion. All have heard His words of forgiveness, His urging to repentance, to be sinners no more. Like Paul in today's Epistle, Christ has taken possession of every one, claimed each as a child of our heavenly Father.

In the Church, God has formed a people for Himself to announce His praise, just as Isaiah said He would. And as Isaiah promised, He has given His "chosen people" living waters to drink in the desert wastelands of the world (see John 7:37-39).

But our God is ever a God of the future, not of the past. We are to live with hopeful hearts, "forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead," as Paul tells us. His salvation, Paul says, is power in the present, "the power of His resurrection."

We are to live awaiting a still greater and final Exodus, pursuing "the goal, the prize of God's upward calling," striving in faith to attain the last new thing God promises - "the resurrection of the dead."

A 'New' Exodus

Israel's Exodus from Egypt is in the background of every reading in this month's Liturgy of the Word.

The Exodus convinced the Israelites that they were God's chosen people. What other people could boast that God had personally delivered them in their time of trial (see Exodus 15:11-16)?

Later in its history, when Israel through sin had fallen into captivity and exile, the prophets predicted a "new Exodus," led by a Messiah, a new Moses who would restore them once more as a holy kingdom (see Isaiah 10:25-27; 11:15-16; 51:9-11). This new Exodus, Jeremiah predicted, would mark the start of a "New Covenant" (see Jeremiah 23:7-8; 31:31-33).

In the readings for the Second Sunday in Lent (Cycle C), we see Jesus as the hoped-for new Moses, liberating God's people from the last enemy - sin and death - and bringing them into the promised land of heaven. And as Paul says in the Epistle for the Third Sunday, the events of Exodus - the Red Sea crossing, the manna from heaven, the water from the rock - were signs of the Church's sacraments. 

Direct download: C_5_Lent.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 4:34pm EDT

Readings:

Joshua 5:9-12
Psalms 34:2-7
2 Corinthians 5:17-21
Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

In today's First Reading, God forgives "the reproach" of the generations who grumbled against Him after the Exodus. On the threshold of the promised land, Israel can with a clean heart celebrate the Passover, the feast of God's first-born son (see Joshua 5:6-7; Exodus 4:22; 12:12-13).

Reconciliation is also at the heart of the story Jesus tells in today's Gospel. The story of the prodigal son is the story of Israel and of the human race. But it is also the story of every believer.

In Baptism, we're given a divine birthright, made "a new creation," as Paul puts it in today's Epistle. But when we sin, we're like the prodigal, quitting our Father's house, squandering our inheritance in trying to live without Him.

Lost in sin, we cut ourselves off from the grace of sonship lavished upon us in Baptism. It is still possible for us to come to our senses, make our way back to the Father, as the prodigal does.

But only He can remove the reproach, restore the divine sonship we have spurned. Only He can free us from the slavery to sin that causes us - like the prodigal -  to see God not as our Father but as our master, One we serve as slaves.

God wants not slaves but children. Like the father in today's Gospel, He longs to call each of us "My son," to share His life with us, to tell us: "Everything I have is yours."

The Father's words of longing and compassion still come to His prodigal children in the Sacrament of Penance. This is part of what Paul today calls "the ministry of reconciliation" entrusted by Jesus to the Apostles and the Church.

Reconciled like Israel, we take our place at the table of the Eucharist, the homecoming banquet the Father calls for His lost sons, the new Passover we celebrate this side of heaven. We taste the goodness of the Lord, as we sing in today's Psalm, rejoicing that we who were dead are found alive again.

Direct download: C_4_Lent.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 4:20pm EDT

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