St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

Readings:
Sirach 3:2-6,12-14
Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
Colossians 3:12-21
Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

Underlying the wisdom offered in today's Liturgy is the mystery of the family in God's divine plan.

The Lord has set father in honor over his children and mother in authority over her sons, we hear in today's First Reading. As we sing in today's Psalm, the blessings of the family flow from Zion, the heavenly mother of the royal people of God (see Isaiah 66:7,10-13; Galatians 4:26).

And in the drama of today's Gospel, we see the nucleus of the new people of God - the Holy Family - facing persecution from those who would seek to destroy the child and His Kingdom.

Moses, called to save God's first born son, the people of Israel (see Exodus 4:22; Sirach 36:11), was also threatened at birth by a mad and jealous tyrant (see Exodus 1:15-16). And as Moses was saved by his mother and sister (see Exodus 2:1-10; 4:19), in God's plan Jesus too is rescued by His family.

As once God took the family of Jacob down to Egypt to make them the great nation Israel (see Genesis 46:2-4), God leads the Holy Family to Egypt to prepare the coming of the new Israel of God - the Church (see Galatians 6:16).

At the beginning of the world, God established the family in the "marriage" of Adam and Eve, the two becoming one body (see Genesis 2:22-24). Now in the new creation, Christ is made "one body" with His bride, the Church, as today's Epistle indicates (see Ephesians 5:21-32).

By this union we are made God's chosen ones, holy and beloved. And our families are to radiate the perfect love that binds us to Christ in the Church.

As we approach the altar on this feast, let us renew our commitment to our God-given duties as spouses, children and parents. Mindful of the promises of today's First Reading, let us offer our quiet performance of these duties for the atonement of our sins.

Direct download: Saving_Family.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:09pm EST

 

 

Isaiah 52:7–10

Psalms 98:1–6

Hebrews 1:1–6

John 1:1–18

 

The Church’s liturgy rings in Christmas with a joyful noise. We hear today of uplifted voices, trumpets and horns, and melodies of praise. 

In the First Reading, Isaiah fortells Israel’s liberation from captivity and exile in Babylon. He envisions a triumphant homecoming to Zion marked by joyful singing.

The new song in today’s Psalm is a victory hymn to the marvelous deeds done by our God and King.

Both the prophet and psalmist sing of God’s power and salvation. God has shown the might of His holy arm, they say. This language recalls the Exodus, where the people first sang of God’s powerful arm that shattered Israel’s enemy Egypt (see Exod. 15:1, 6, 16).

The coming of the Christ child into the world fulfills all that the Exodus and the return from exile prefigured.

In Jesus, all nations to the ends of the earth will see the victory of God over the forces of sin and death.

Jesus is the new King. He is the royal firstborn son and Son of God promised to David, as we hear in today’s Epistle (see Ps. 2:7; 2 Sam. 7:14). 

And as our Gospel reveals, He is the Word of God, the one through whom the universe was created, the one through whom the universe is sustained.

In speaking to us through His Son, God has unveiled a new age, the last days.

The new age is a new creation. In the beginning, God spoke His Word and light shone in the darkness. Now, in this new age, He sends us the true light to scatter the darkness of a world that has exiled itself from God.

He is the one Isaiah foretold – who brings good tidings of peace and salvation, who announces to the world that God has come to dwell and to reign (see Rev. 21:3–4).

 

So we sing a new song on Christmas. It is the song of those who have believed in the Christ child and been born again – by grace given the power to become children of God.

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Readings:
Isaiah 7:10-14
Psalm 24:1-6
Romans 1:1-7
Matthew 1:18-24

The mystery kept secret for long ages, promised through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, is today revealed (see Romans 16:25-26).

This is the "Gospel of God" that Paul celebrates in today's Epistle - the good news that "God is with us" in Jesus Christ. The sign promised to the House of David in today's First Reading is given in today's Gospel. In the virgin found with child, God himself has brought to Israel a savior from David's royal line (see Acts 13:22-23).

Son of David according to the flesh, Jesus is the Son of God, born of the Spirit. He will be anointed with the Spirit (see Acts 10:38), and by the power of Spirit will be raised from the dead and established at God's right hand in the heavens (see Acts 2:33-34; Ephesians 1:20-21).

He is the "King of Glory" we sing of in today's Psalm. The earth in its fullness has been given to Him. And as God swore long ago to David, His Kingdom will have no end (see Psalm 89:4-5).

In Jesus Christ we have a new creation. Like the creation of the world, it is a work of the Spirit, a blessing from the Lord (see Genesis 1:2). In Him, we are saved from our sins, are called now "the beloved of God."

All nations now are called to belong to Jesus Christ, to enter into the House of David and Kingdom of God, the Church. Together, through the obedience of faith, we have been made a new race - a royal people that seeks for the face of the God of Jacob.

He has made our hearts clean, made us worthy to enter His holy place, to stand in His presence and serve Him.

In the Eucharist, the everlasting covenant is renewed, the Advent promise of virgin with child - God with us - continues until the end of the age (see Matthew 28:20; Ezekiel 37:24-28).

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Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 10:30am EST

 

Lecturas

2 Macabeos 7,1-2. 9-14

Salmo 17,1.5-6.8.15

2 Tesalonicenses 2,16-3,5

Lucas 20,27-38

Con una adivinanza sobre siete hermanos y una viuda sin hijos, los Saduceos del Evangelio de hoy se burlan de la fe por la que siete hermanos y su madre mueren en la primera lectura.

Los mártires macabeos, antes que traicionar la Ley de Dios, escogieron la muerte: fueron torturados y después quemados vivos. Su historia se nos da en estas últimas semanas del año litúrgico para fortalecernos y hacernos más resistentes; para que nuestros pies no vacilen sino se mantengan firmes en el seguimiento de Cristo.

Los macabeos murieron confiados en que el “Rey del Universo” los levantaría de nuevo y para siempre a la vida (cf. 2 Mc 14,46).

Los Saduceos no creen en la resurrección porque no encuentran literalmente esa enseñanza en las Escrituras. Para ridiculizar esta creencia, manipulan una ley que indicaba que una mujer debía casarse con el hermano de su esposo, si éste fallecía y no dejaba herederos (cf. Gn 38,8; Dt 25,5).

Pero esa ley de Dios no había sido dada para asegurar la descendencia a padres terrenos, sino–como Jesús explica- para hacernos dignos de ser “hijos e hijas de Dios”, engendrados por su Resurrección.

 “Dios nuestro Padre”, nos dice la epístola de hoy, nos ha dado “consolación eterna” en la Resurrección de Cristo. Por su gracia podemos ahora dirigir nuestros corazones al amor de Dios.

Como los Macabeos sufrieron por la Antigua Ley, nosotros tendremos que sufrir por nuestra fe en la Nueva Alianza. Sin embargo, Dios nos cobijará bajo la sombra de sus alas, nos mantendrá en la niña de sus ojos, como cantamos en el salmo de hoy.

Los perseguidores de los macabeos se maravillaron ante su valentía. También nosotros podemos glorificar al Señor en nuestros sufrimientos y pequeños sacrificios de cada día.

Y nuestra razón para confiar es todavía mayor que la de ellos. Uno que ha sido levantado de la muerte nos ha dado su palabra: que Él es Dios de vivos; que cuando despertemos del sueño de la muerte contemplaremos su rostro, seremos felices en su presencia (cf. Sal 76,6; Dn 12,2).

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Lecturas:

2 Reyes 5, 14-17

Salmo 98,1-4

2 Timoteo 2,8-13

Lucas 17,11-19

Un leproso extranjero es curado y, en acción de gracias, regresa ofreciendo homenaje al Dios de Israel. Esa es la historia que escuchamos, tanto en la primera lectura como en el Evangelio de hoy.

Había muchos leprosos en Israel en tiempos de Elías, pero sólo Naamán el sirio creyó en la palabra de Dios y fue sanado (cfr. Lc 5,12-14). Del mismo modo, el Evangelio de hoy da a entender que la mayoría de los diez leprosos curados por Jesús era israelita, pero solamente un extranjero, el samaritano, regresó a agradecerle.

Hoy se nos muestra, de modo dramático, cómo la fe ha sido constituida camino de salvación, ruta por la cual todas las naciones se unirán al Señor, convirtiéndose en sus siervos, congregados con los Israelitas en un solo pueblo escogido de Dios: la Iglesia (cfr. Is 56,3-8).

El salmo de hoy también ve más allá, al día cuando todos los pueblos verán lo que Naamán veía: que no hay otro Dios en la tierra más que el Dios de Israel.

En el Evangelio de hoy vemos ese día llegar. El leproso samaritano es la única persona en el Nuevo Testamente que le agradece personalmente a Jesús. La palabra griega usada para describir su “dar gracias” es la misma que traducimos como “Eucaristía”.

Y estos leprosos de hoy nos revelan las dimensiones interiores de la Eucaristía y la vida sacramental. También nosotros hemos sido sanados mediante la fe en Jesús. Así como la carne de Naamán se hace de nuevo semejante a la de un niño pequeño, nuestras almas han quedando limpias de pecado en las aguas del Bautismo. Experimentamos esta purificación continuamente en el sacramento de la Penitencia, cuando nos arrepentimos de nuestros pecados, imploramos y recibimos la misericordia de nuestro Maestro Jesús.

En cada misa regresamos a glorificar a Dios para ofrecernos en sacrificio; nos arrodillamos ante nuestro Señor, dando gracias por nuestra salvación.

En esta Eucaristía recordamos a “Jesucristo, resucitado de entre los muertos, nacido del linaje de David”, el rey de la alianza de Israel. Y rezamos, como San Pablo en la epístola de hoy, para perseverar en esta fe, para que también nosotros vivamos y reinemos con Él en gloria eterna.

Category:general -- posted at: 11:37am EST

Lecturas:

Deuteronomio 30,10-14

Salmo 69,14.17.30-31.33-34.36-37

Colosenses 1,15-20

Lucas 10,25-37

Debemos amar a Dios y a nuestro prójimo con toda la fuerza de nuestro ser, como el erudito de la Ley responde a Jesús en el Evangelio de esta semana.

Este mandamiento no es lejano o misterioso, sino que está escrito en nuestros corazones y en el libro de la Sagrada Escritura. Moisés dice sobre el en la primera lectura de esta semana: “Cúmplelo”.

Jesús le dice lo mismo a su interrogador: “Haz esto y vivirás”.

El letrado, sin embargo, quiere conocer hasta que punto le exige la ley. Eso es lo que le mueve a hacer la pregunta: “¿Quién es mi prójimo?”.

Con su compasión, el samaritano de la parábola de Jesús revela la misericordia infinita de Dios, que vino a nosotros cuando estábamos caídos en el pecado, cerca de la muerte, incapaces de levantarnos por nosotros mismos. 

Jesús es la “imagen del Dios invisible”, nos dice la epístola de esta semana. En Él, el amor de Dios se nos ha hecho muy cercano. “Por la sangre de su Cruz” -esto es, al cargar con los sufrimientos de su prójimo en su propio cuerpo; y al ser desnudado, golpeado y dado por muerto- nos libró de las ataduras del pecado, nos reconcilió con Dios y entre nosotros. 

Como el samaritano, Él paga por nosotros, nos sana de las heridas del pecado, derrama sobre nosotros el aceite y vino de los sacramentos, y nos confía al cuidado de su Iglesia hasta cuando regrese por nosotros.

Ya que su amor no conoce límites, el nuestro tampoco puede conocerlos. Hemos de amar como hemos sido amados; hemos de hacer por los demás lo que Él ha hecho por nosotros, reuniendo todas las cosas en su Cuerpo, la Iglesia.

Hemos de amar como el salmista de esta semana, como aquellos cuyas oraciones han sido escuchadas; como aquellos cuyas vidas han sido salvadas, han conocido el día de su favor y han visto la gran misericordia de Dios volverse hacia ellos.

Este es el amor que nos guía hacia la vida eterna, el mismo que Jesús exige al Escriba y a cada uno de nosotros: “Vete y haz tú lo mismo”.

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Readings:

Zech 12:10-11; 13:1

Ps 62:2-6. 8-9 r. 2

Gal 3:26-29

Luke 9:18-24

In this Sunday's readings we hear the voice of the Prophet Zechariah as he delivers difficult oracles from God. The people have returned from exile. Now back in Jerusalem, they face the arduous work of rebuilding the Temple. Zechariah acknowledges their hardships and foresees more obstacles.

But their grief has a purpose. It is a remedy, a penance to heal them -- "a fountain to purify from sin and uncleanness."

Thus purified, the people will be ready to receive the Messiah and usher in a new creation. God promises to "pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and petition." So that no one should mistake the identity of the Messiah when He comes, God says through Zechariah: "they shall look on him whom they have thrust through, and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son … a first-born." That prophecy could be fulfilled in no other than Jesus, the Word made Flesh, the Only-Begotten Son of God, the Crucified.

The day of the Messiah indeed came, with an outpouring of the Spirit. Yet it was a saving event not only for Jerusalem, but for all people. Both Jews and Gentiles could become "children of God," in St. Paul's stunning phrase. Now, “There is neither Jew nor Greek … slave nor free … male and female …  if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendant, heirs according to the promise.”

In light of these readings, Sunday's Gospel is poignant. Jesus asks his closest friends, " who do you say that I am?" Peter replies, "The Messiah of God." Jesus then reveals to them, as Zechariah had foretold, that the Messiah must be "thrust through" and killed and mourned before the Spirit would come forth on Pentecost.

The day has indeed come. Yet still we long for its fullness, and so we pray to God in the Psalm: "for you I long! For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, Like a land parched, lifeless, and without water."

Direct download: C_12_Ordinary_16.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 10:15am EST

 

Readings:

2 Samuel 12: 7–10, 13

Psalm 32: 1–2, 5,7,11

Galatians 2:16, 19–21

Luke 7:36–50

In this Sunday’s readings we are like the fallen king, David, and the woman who weeps at Jesus’ feet.

Like David, the Lord has rescued us from sin and death, anointed us with His Spirit in baptism and in confirmation. He has made us heirs of His promise to the children of Israel.

And like David, and like the woman in the Gospel, we fall into sin. Our crimes may not be as grave as David’s (see 2 Samuel 11:1–26) or as “many” as that woman’s (see Luke 7:47).

But we often squander the great gift of salvation we’ve been given. Often we fail to live up to the great calling of being sons and daughters of God.

The good news of today’s readings, the good news of Jesus Christ, is that we can return to God in the sacrament of confession. Each of us can repeat Paul’s wondrous words in this week’s Epistle: “The Son of God has loved me and given himself up for me.”

Our faith will save us, as Jesus tells the woman today. Our faith that no matter how many our sins, or how serious, if we come to him in true sorrow and repentance we will hear his words of forgiveness. Like David. Like the woman in the Gospel this Sunday.

We hear David’s heartfelt confession in the First Reading. The Psalmist, too, confesses his sins to God. And we hear our Lord’s tender words of mercy and pardon in the Gospel.

By His word of healing and his promise of peace, He makes it possible for us to join Him at the banquet table of the Eucharist.

We can’t be like the Pharisee in the Gospel. We should never disdain the sinner or doubt the Lord’s power to convert even the worst of sinners.

Instead, we should pledge today to better imitate that sinful woman. In gratitude for the debt we’ve been forgiven, let us promise to live by faith and for God alone. Like her, let us devote our lives to serving Him with great love.

 

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Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 11:00am EST

 

Readings:

1 Kings 17-17-24

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

Gal 1:11-19

Luke 7:11-17 

Jesus in today’s Gospel meets a funeral procession coming out of the gates of the town of Nain.  Unlike when he raised Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5) or Lazarus (John 11), no one requests his assistance.  Moved by compassion for the widow who had lost her only son, Jesus steps forward and, laying his hand on the bier, commands him to arise.

The onlookers were reminded of the story of Elijah in the first reading who raised the dead child of the widow of Zarephath and “gave him [back] to his mother.”  They proclaimed that “a great prophet has arisen in our midst.”

Jesus of course is more than a prophet; he is the ruler over life and death.  In the Mosaic law, contact with a dead body renders an Israelite unclean for a week (Numbers 19:11-19).  Jesus’ touch and word reverses that; instead of being defiled by contact with death, he gave life.

Like the physical healings that he performed, Jesus’ raising people from the dead is a sign of the Messiah’s arrival (Luke 7:22).  But it is more than that; these healings are visible signs of the awakening and liberating of men from the spiritual death caused by sin (see Mark 2:1-12).

The Church Fathers return to this theme again and again.  St. Ambrose writes, “the widow signifies Mother Church, weeping for those who are dead in sin and carried beyond the safety of her gates.  The multitudes looking on will praise the Lord when sinners rise again from death and are restored to their mother.”

When we are dead in sin, it is the outstretched hand and the words of Christ spoken by his priest, that raise us from spiritual death and restore us to the arms of our mother, the Church.  With the Psalmist, then, we can sing “I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.  You brought me up from the nether world; you preserved me from those going down into the pit.

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