St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

Readings:
Sirach 3:2-6,12-14
Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
Colossians 3:12-21
Luke 2:22-40

Why did Jesus choose to become a baby born of a mother and father and to spend all but His last years living in an ordinary human family? In part, to reveal God's plan to make all people live as one “holy family” in His Church (see 2 Corinthians 6:16-18).

In the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, God reveals our true home. We're to live as His children, “chosen ones, holy and beloved,” as the First Reading puts it.

The family advice we hear in today's readings – for mothers, fathers and children – is all solid and practical. Happy homes are the fruit of our faithfulness to the Lord, we sing in today's Psalm. But the Liturgy is inviting us to see more, to see how, through our family obligations and relationships, our families become heralds of the family of God that He wants to create on earth.

Jesus shows us this in today's Gospel. His obedience to His earthly parents flows directly from His obedience to the will of His heavenly Father. Joseph and Mary aren't identified by name, but three times are called “his parents” and are referred to separately as his “mother” and “father.” The emphasis is all on their “familial” ties to Jesus. But these ties are emphasized only so that Jesus, in the first words He speaks in Luke's Gospel, can point us beyond that earthly relationship to the Fatherhood of God.

In what Jesus calls “My Father's house,” every family finds its true meaning and purpose (see Ephesians 3:15). The Temple we read about in the Gospel today is God's house, His dwelling (see Luke 19:46). But it's also an image of the family of God, the Church (see Ephesians 2:19-22; Hebrews 3:3-6; 10:21).

In our families we're to build up this household, this family, this living temple of God. Until He reveals His new dwelling among us, and says of every person: “I shall be his God and he will be My son” (see Revelation 21:3,7).

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

Lecturas:
Sirácida 3,2-6.12-14
Salmo 128, 1-5
Colosenses 3,12-21
Lucas 2, 22-40

¿Porqué Jesús escoge ser el bebé de una madre y un padre, y pasar casi toda su vida –excepto sus últimos años- en una familia humana ordinaria? En parte, para revelar el plan de Dios, de que todos vivan como una “familia santa” en su Iglesia (cf. 2Co 6,16-18). En la Sagrada Familia de Jesús, María y José, Dios revela nuestro verdadero hogar. Tenemos que vivir como sus hijos, “elegidos, santos y queridos,” como dice la Segunda Lectura.

Los consejos familiares que escuchamos en las lecturas de esta semana –para madres, padres e hijos- son todos prácticos y formales. Los hogares felices son fruto de nuestra fidelidad al Señor, cantamos en el salmo de hoy.

Pero la Liturgia nos invita a más: a ver que al cumplir nuestras obligaciones y relaciones familiares, nuestras familias se convierten en heraldos de la familia de Dios; esa que Él quiere crear en la tierra.

Eso es lo que observamos en el Evangelio del domingo. Es notorio que José y María no son identificados por su nombre, pero son llamados “sus padres” y también se hace referencia a ellos por separado como su “madre” y su “padre”. Se pone énfasis en los lazos familiares que los unen al “niño Jesús”.

Como el varón primogénito de su familia, Jesús es consagrado al Señor. Pero además es el Primogénito de la creación, el primogénito resucitado de entre los muertos, el predestinado a ser el primogénito de muchos hermanos (cf. Col 1,15; Rm 8,29). Por Él, por su sagrada familia, todas las familias del mundo serán bendecidas (cf. Ef 3,15).

También es significativo que toda la escena descrita tiene lugar en el Templo. El Templo, leemos ahí, es la casa de Dios, su morada (cf. Lc 19,46). Pero también es imagen de la familia de Dios: la Iglesia (cf. Ef 2,19-22; Hb 3,3-6; 10,21).

En nuestras familias hemos de construir este hogar, esta familia, este templo vivo de Dios. Hasta que Él nos revele su nueva morada entre nosotros y diga de cada persona: “Yo seré Dios para él, y él será hijo para mí” (Ap 21,3.7).

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

Lecturas
2 Samuel 7,1-5.8-11.16
Salmo 89, 2-5.27.29
Romanos 16, 25-27
Lucas 1, 26-38

Lo que se le anuncia a María en el Evangelio de este domingo, es la revelación de todo lo que los profetas habían dicho. Es, como San Pablo declara en la epístola, el misterio mantenido en secreto desde antes de la creación del mundo (cf. Ef 1,9; 3,3-9).

María es la virgen de la que se profetizó daría a luz un hijo de la casa de David (cf. Is 7,13-14). Y casi cada palabra de las que le dice hoy el ángel evoca y hace eco de la larga historia de la salvación registrada en la Biblia. María es saludada como la hija de Jerusalén llamada a alegrarse de que su rey, el Señor Dios, ha venido a su interior como salvador poderoso (cf. So 3,14-17).

Aquel que ha de nacer de María será Hijo del “Altísimo”. Éste es un antiguo título divino usado para describir al Dios del sacerdote-rey Melquisedec, quien presentó pan y vino para bendecir a Abraham, en los albores de la historia de la salvación (cf. Gn 14,18-19).

El cumplirá la alianza que Dios hace con su elegido, David, en la primera lectura del domingo. Como cantamos en el salmo, Él reinará por siempre como el mayor de los reyes de la tierra, y llamará a Dios “mi Padre”.

Su reino no tendrá fin, tal y como lo había contemplado Daniel, quien vio al Altísimo dar poder eterno al Hijo del Hombre (cf. Dn 4,14; 7,14). Él ha de gobernar sobre la “casa de Jacob” –título usado por Dios cuando hizo su alianza con Israel en el Sinaí (cf. Ex 19,3) y también al prometer que todas las naciones adorarían al Dios de Jacob (cf. Is 2,1-5).

Jesús se ha dado a conocer, nos dice San Pablo en la primera lectura, para traer todas las naciones a la obediencia de la fe. Nosotros en esta semana, con María, estamos llamados a maravillarnos por todo lo que Dios ha hecho a través de los siglos por nuestra salvación. Y también debemos responder a su anunciación con obediencia humilde, deseando que se haga su voluntad en nuestras vidas, según su Palabra.

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

Readings
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-11,16
Psalm 89:2-5,27,29
Romans 16:25-27
Luke 1:26-38

What is announced to Mary in today's Gospel is the revelation of all that the prophets had spoken. It is, as Paul declares in today's Epistle, the mystery kept secret since before the foundation of the world (see Ephesians 1:9; 3:3-9).

Mary is the virgin prophesied to bear a son of the house of David (see Isaiah 7:13-14). And nearly every word the angel speaks to her today evokes and echoes the long history of salvation recorded in the Bible.

Mary is hailed as the daughter Jerusalem, called to rejoice that her king, the Lord God, has come into her midst as a mighty savior (see Zephaniah 3:14-17).

The One whom Mary is to bear will be Son of "the Most High" - an ancient divine title first used to describe the God of the priest-king Melchizedek, who brought out bread and wine to bless Abraham at the dawn of salvation history (see Genesis 14:18-19).

He will fulfill the covenant God makes with His chosen one, David, in today's First Reading. As we sing in today's Psalm, He will reign forever as highest of the kings of the earth, and He will call God, "my Father." As Daniel saw the Most High grant everlasting dominion to the Son of Man (see Daniel 4:14; 7:14), His kingdom will have no end.

He is to rule over the house of Jacob - the title God used in making His covenant with Israel at Sinai (see Exodus 19:3), and again used in promising that all nations would worship the God of Jacob (see Isaiah 2:1-5).

Jesus has been made known, Paul says today, to bring all nations to the obedience of faith. We are called with Mary today, to marvel at all that the Lord has done throughout the ages for our salvation. And we too, must respond to this annunciation with humble obedience - that His will be done, that our lives be lived according to His word.

Direct download: B_4_Advent.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Lecturas:
Isaías 61, 1-2.10-11
Lucas 1, 46-50.53-54
1 Tesalonicenses 5, 16-24
Juan 1, 6-8.19-28

La misteriosa figura de Juan el Bautista, que nos fue presentada en las lecturas de la semana pasada, se nos muestra hoy más claramente a la vista. Como vemos en el evangelio de este domingo, se comprende mejor quién es Juan si se sabe primero quién no es.

Él no es Elías que ha retornado del cielo (cf. 2R 2,11), aún y cuando viste su mismo atuendo (cf. Mc 1,6; 2R 1,8) y predica el arrepentimiento y el juicio (cf. 1R 18,21; 2Cr 21,12-15).

No es Elías en la carne, sin embargo Juan es enviado con el espíritu y poder de Elías para cumplir su misión (cf. Lc 1,17; Ml 3,23-24). Tampoco es el profeta que Moisés predijo, aunque es su pariente y habla la palabra de Dios (cf. Dt 18,15-19; Jn 6,14).

Juan tampoco es el Mesías, aunque ha sido ungido por el Espíritu desde el vientre de su madre (cf. Lc 1,15.44).

Juan prepara el camino del Señor (cf. Is 40,3). Su bautismo es simbólico, no sacramental. Es un signo que se nos da para mover nuestros corazones al arrepentimiento.

Él nos muestra a Aquel sobre quien permanece el Espíritu (cf. Jn 1,32); Aquel que cumple la promesa que escuchamos en la primera lectura del domingo (cf. Lc 4,16-21).
Jesús, por medio de su baño de Espíritu y de regeneración, abre una fuente que purifica Israel y les da a todos un nuevo corazón y un nuevo espíritu (cf. Za 13,1-3; Ez 36,24-27; Mc 1,8; Tt 3,5).

Juan viene a nosotros en las lecturas del Adviento para mostrarnos la luz, de modo que podamos creer en Aquel que viene en Navidad. Como cantamos en el salmo de este domingo, el Poderoso ha venido para levantar a cada uno de nosotros; para colmar nuestra hambre con pan del cielo (cf. Jn 6,33.49-51).

Y como San Pablo exhorta en la epístola, debemos alegrarnos, dar gracias y orar sin cesar para que Dios nos haga perfectamente santos en espíritu, alma y cuerpo. De ese modo estaremos libres de culpa cuando nuestro Señor venga.

Direct download: B_3_Advent_Spn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:36pm EST

Readings
Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11
Luke 1:46-50, 53-54
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28

The mysterious figure of John the Baptist, introduced in last week's readings, comes into sharper focus today. Who he is, we see in today's Gospel, is best understood by who he isn't.

He is not Elijah returned from the heavens (see 2 Kings 2:11), although like him he dresses in the prophet's attire (see Mark 1:6; 2 Kings 1:8) and preaches repentance and judgment (see 1 Kings 18:21; 2 Chronicles 21:12-15).

Not Elijah in the flesh, John is nonetheless sent in the spirit and power of Elijah to fulfill his mission (see Luke 1:17; Malachi 3:23-24).

Neither is John the prophet Moses foretold, although he is a kinsman and speaks God's word (see Deuteronomy 18:15-19; John 6:14). Nor is John the Messiah, though he has been anointed by the Spirit since the womb (see Luke 1:15, 44).

John prepares the way for the Lord (see Isaiah 40:3). His baptism is symbolic, not sacramental. It is a sign given to stir our hearts to repentance.

John shows us the One upon whom the Spirit remains (see John 1:32), the One who fulfills the promise we hear in today's First Reading (see Luke 4:16-21). Jesus' bath of rebirth and the Spirit opens a fountain that purifies Israel and gives to all a new heart and a new Spirit (see Zechariah 13:1-3; Ezekiel 36:24-27; Mark 1:8; Titus 3:5).

John comes to us in the Advent readings to show us the light, that we might believe in the One who comes at Christmas. As we sing in today's Responsorial, the Mighty One has come to lift each of us up, to fill our hunger with bread from heaven (see John 6:33, 49-51).

And as Paul exhorts in today's Epistle, we should rejoice, give thanks, and pray without ceasing that God will make us perfectly holy in spirit, soul, and body - that we may be blameless when our Lord comes.

Direct download: B_3_Advent.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 1:30pm EST

Lecturas:
Isaías 40,1-5. 9-11
Salmo 85, 9-14
2 Pedro 3, 8-14
Marcos 1, 1-8

Nuestro Dios viene. El tiempo del exilio –la prolongada separación de Dios que la humanidad tiene debido al pecado- está a punto de terminar. Esas son las buenas nuevas que proclama la liturgia de este domingo.

En la primera lectura, Isaías promete la futura liberación israelita de la cautividad y el regreso del exilio. Pero como enseña el Evangelio, la liberación histórica de Israel pretendía anunciar un acto salvífico de Dios aún mayor: la venida de Jesús para liberar de las ataduras del pecado a Israel y a todas las naciones, para congregarlas y llevarlas de vuelta a Dios.

Dios mandó un ángel delante de Israel para liderarlo en su éxodo hacia la tierra prometida (cf. Ex 23,20). Y Él prometió enviar a un mensajero de la alianza, Elías, para purificar al pueblo y convertir los corazones al Padre, antes del Día del Señor (cf. Ml 3,1; 23.24).

Juan el Bautista cita esto, así como la profecía de Isaías, para mostrar que toda la historia de Israel apunta a la revelación de Jesús. En Jesús, Dios ha llenado el valle que separaba de Él a la humanidad pecadora. Él ha descendido desde el cielo y ha hecho habitar su gloria en la tierra, como cantamos en el salmo de este domingo.

Él ha hecho todo esto, no por la humanidad en abstracto, sino por cada uno de nosotros. La extensa historia de la salvación nos ha conducido a esta Eucaristía, en la que Dios nuevamente viene y nuestra salvación está cerca.

Y cada uno de nosotros debe escuchar una llamada personal en las lecturas del domingo. Aquí está su Dios, dice Isaías. Él ha sido paciente con ustedes, dice San Pedro en la epístola.

Como los habitantes de Jerusalén que aparecen en el Evangelio, debemos salir y acudir hacia Él, arrepentirnos de nuestros pecados, de pereza y de auto-indulgencia que hacen de nuestra existencia un desierto. Debemos enderezar nuestras vidas, de modo que todo lo que hagamos nos conduzca hacia Él.

Esta domingo, en la Misa, escuchemos el inicio del Evangelio y comprometámonos a vivir con santidad y devoción.

Direct download: B_2_Advent_Spn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Readings:
Isaiah 40:1-59-11
Psalm 85:9-14
2 Peter 3:8-14
Mark 1:1-8

Our God is coming. The time of exile – the long separation of humankind from God due to sin – is about to end. This is the good news proclaimed in today’s liturgy.

Isaiah in today’s First Reading promises Israel’s future release and return from captivity and exile. But as today’s Gospel shows, Israel’s historic deliverance was meant to herald an even greater saving act by God – the coming of Jesus to set Israel and all nations free from bondage to sin, to gather them up and carry them back to God.

God sent an angel before Israel to lead them in their exodus towards the promised land (see Exodus 23:20). And He promised to send a messenger of the covenant, Elijah, to purify the people and turn their hearts to the Father before the day of the Lord (see Malachi 3:123-24).

John the Baptist quotes these, as well as Isaiah’s prophecy, to show that all of Israel’s history looks forward to the revelation of Jesus. In Jesus, God has filled in the valley that divided sinful humanity from himself. He has reached down from heaven and made His glory to dwell on earth, as we sing in today’s Psalm.

He has done all this, not for humanity in the abstract, but for each of us. The long history of salvation has led us to this Eucharist, in which our God again comes and our salvation is near. And each of us must hear in today’s readings a personal call. Here is your God, Isaiah says. He has been patient with you, Peter says in today’s Epistle.

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

Lecturas:
Isaías 63,16-17.19; 64,2–7
Salmo 80, 2-3.15-16.18-19
1 Corintios 1, 3-9
Marcos 13, 33-37

El nuevo año de la Iglesia comienza con una petición de la visita de Dios: “¡Oh, si rasgases los cielos y bajases!”, clama el profeta Isaías en la primera lectura del domingo.

También en el salmo de hoy escuchamos la voz angustiada de Israel, que le implora a Dios mirar abajo desde su trono celestial, para salvar y pastorear a su pueblo.

Las lecturas de esta semana son relativamente breves. Su lenguaje y “mensaje” son aparentemente sencillos. Pero debemos advertir el tono grave y el aspecto penitencial de la Liturgia de hoy, en la que el pueblo de Israel reconoce su pecaminosidad, su fracaso en guardar la alianza de Dios, su incapacidad para salvarse a sí mismo.

Y nosotros, en este tiempo de adviento, también deberíamos ver nuestra propia vida en la experiencia de Israel. Al examinar nuestra conciencia, ¿no encontramos acaso que con frecuencia endurecemos nuestro corazón, rechazamos su ley, nos apartamos de sus caminos, le retenemos nuestro amor?

Dios es fiel, nos recuerda San Pablo en la epístola de esta semana. Él es nuestro Padre. Él ha escuchado el grito de sus hijos y ha descendido del cielo por el bien de Israel y por el nuestro; para rescatarnos de nuestro exilio de Dios, para restaurarnos a su amor.

En Jesús hemos visto al Padre (cf. Jn 14,8-9). El Padre ha hecho brillar su rostro sobre nosotros. Él es el buen pastor (cf. Jn 10, 11-15) venido para guiarnos al reino celestial. No importa qué tan lejos nos hayamos extraviado: Él nos dará una nueva vida si nos volvemos a Él, si apelamos a su santo Nombre, si prometemos de nuevo que nunca nos alejaremos de Él.

Como San Pablo dice esta semana, Él nos ha dado cada don espiritual –sobre todo la Eucaristía y la Penitencia- para fortalecernos mientras esperamos la última venida de Cristo. Él nos mantendrá firmes hasta el final… si se lo permitimos.

Por tanto, en este tiempo de arrepentimiento, debemos prestar atención a la advertencia que nuestro Señor repite tres veces en el Evangelio de esta semana, vigilar, pues no sabemos la hora en que regresará el Señor de la casa.

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Category:general -- posted at: 3:50pm EST

Readings:
Isaiah 63:16-17, 19
Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Mark 13:33-37

The new Church year begins with a plea for God's visitation. "Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down," the prophet Isaiah cries in today's First Reading.

In today's Psalm, too, we hear the anguished voice of Israel, imploring God to look down from His heavenly throne - to save and shepherd His people.

Today's readings are relatively brief. Their language and "message" are deceptively simple. But we should take note of the serious mood and penitential aspect of the Liturgy today - as the people of Israel recognize their sinfulness, their failures to keep God's covenant, their inability to save themselves.

And in this Advent season, we should see our own lives in the experience of Israel. As we examine our consciences, can't we, too, find that we often harden our hearts, refuse His rule, wander from His ways, withhold our love from Him?

God is faithful, Paul reminds us in today's Epistle. He is our Father. He has hearkened to the cry of His children, coming down from heaven for Israel's sake and for ours - to redeem us from our exile from God, to restore us to His love.

In Jesus, we have seen the Father (see John 14:8-9). The Father has let His face shine upon us. He is the good shepherd (see John 10:11-15) come to guide us to the heavenly kingdom. No matter how far we have strayed, He will give us new life if we turn to Him, if we call upon His holy name, if we pledge anew never again to withdraw from Him.

As Paul says today, He has given us every spiritual gift - especially the Eucharist and penance - to strengthen us as we await Christ's final coming. He will keep us firm to the end - if we let Him.

So, in this season of repentance, we should heed the warning - repeated three times by our Lord in today's Gospel - to be watchful, for we know not the hour when the Lord of the house will return.

Direct download: B_1_Advent.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 3:34pm EST

Lecturas
Ezequiel 34,11-12.15-17
Salmo 23,1-3.5-6
1 Corintios 15, 20-26. 28
Mateo25, 31-46

Esta semana termina el año litúrgico con una visión del final de los tiempos. La escena descrita por el Evangelio es cruda y en ella resuenan ecos del Antiguo Testamento.

Sunday’s First Reading, judging as a shepherd separates sheep from goats.
El Hijo del Hombre es entronizado sobre todas las naciones y pueblos de toda lengua (cf. Dn 7,13-14). Las naciones han sido reunidas para ver su gloria y recibir su juicio (cf. Is 66,18; So 3,8). El Rey es el pastor divino que Ezequiel prevé en la primera lectura del domingo; Él juzga así como el pastor separa las ovejas de las cabras.

Cada uno de nosotros será juzgado según cómo realice las sencillas obras de misericordia que escuchamos en el Evangelio.

Estas obras, como Jesús explica hoy, son reflejo o medida de nuestro amor a Él; son nuestra fidelidad a su mandamiento de amar a Dios con todas nuestras fuerzas y al prójimo como a nosotros mismos (cf. Mt 22, 36-40).

Nuestra fe está muerta, no tiene vida, a menos de que la expresemos con obras de amor (cf. St 2,20; Ga 5,6). Y no podemos decir que amamos verdaderamente a Dios a quien no vemos, si no amamos a nuestro prójimo, a quien sí vemos (cf. 1Jn 4,20).

El Señor es nuestro pastor, como cantamos en el salmo del domingo. Y hemos de seguir su guía e imitar su ejemplo (cf. 1Co 1,11; Ef 5,1).

Él ha sanado nuestras enfermedades (cf. Lc 6,19), nos ha liberado de la cárcel del pecado y de la muerte (cf. Rm 8,2.21), nos ha dado la bienvenida a nosotros que una vez fuimos extraños a su alianza (cf. Ef 2,12.19). Nos ha revestido en el bautismo (cf. Ap 5,5; 2Co 5, 3-4) y nos alimenta con la comida y la bebida de su propio Cuerpo y Sangre.

“Al final” vendrá de nuevo para entregar su reino a su Padre, como dice San Pablo en la epístola de esta semana.

Luchemos por seguirle en el camino correcto para que su reino sea nuestra heredad; para que podamos entrar en el descanso eterno prometido al pueblo de Dios (cf. Hb 4,1.9-11).

Direct download: A_Christ_King_Spn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Readings:
Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
Psalm 23:1-3, 5-6
1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28
Matthew 25:31-46

Many saints and Church leaders have seen a connection between Christ's words in the Gospel for the Solemnity of Christ the King (see Matthew 25:31-43) and His promise to be present in the Eucharist (see Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:15-20).

For instance, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta used to say of her work with the destitute: "In Holy Communion we have Christ under the appearance of bread. In our work we find Him under the appearance of flesh and blood. It is the same Christ. 'I was hungry, I was naked, I was sick, I was homeless.'"

St. John Chrysostom, the great patriarch of Eastern Catholicism, said the same thing in the fourth century: "Do you wish to honour the body of Christ? Do not ignore Him when He is naked. Do not pay Him homage in the temple clad in silk only then to neglect Him outside where He suffers cold and nakedness. He who said: 'This is my body' is the same One who said: 'You saw me hungry and you gave me no food', and 'Whatever you did to the least of my brothers you did also to me' . . . What good is it if the Eucharistic table is overloaded with golden chalices, when He is dying of hunger? Start by satisfying His hunger, and then with what is left you may adorn the altar as well."

The Church year ends today with a vision of the end of time. The scene in the Gospel is stark and resounds with Old Testament echoes.

The Son of Man is enthroned over all nations and peoples of every language (see Daniel 7:13-14). The nations have been gathered to see His glory and receive His judgment (see Isaiah 66:18; Zephaniah 3:8). The King is the divine shepherd Ezekiel foresees in today's First Reading, judging as a shepherd separates sheep from goats.

Each of us will be judged upon our performance of the simple works of mercy we hear in the Gospel today.

These works, as Jesus explains today, are reflections or measures of our love for Him, our faithfulness to His commandment that we love God with all our might and our neighbor as ourselves (see Matthew 22:36-40).

Our faith is dead, lifeless, unless it be expressed in works of love (see James 2:20; Galatians 5:6). And we cannot say we truly love God, whom we cannot see, if we don't love our neighbor, whom we can (see 1 John 4:20).

The Lord is our shepherd, as we sing in today's Psalm. And we are to follow His lead, to imitate His example (see 1 Corinthians 1:11; Ephesians 5:1).

He healed our sickness (see Luke 6:19), freed us from the prison of sin and death (see Romans 8:2,21), welcomed us who were once strangers to His covenant (see Ephesians 2:12,19). He clothed us in baptism (see Revelation 3:5; 2 Corinthians 5:3-4), and feeds us with the food and drink of His own body and blood.

At "the end," He will come again to hand over His kingdom to His Father, as Paul says in today's Epistle.

Let us strive to be following Him in right paths, that this kingdom might be our inheritance, that we might enter into the eternal rest promised for the people of God (see Hebrews 4:1,9-11).

Direct download: Breaking_the_Bread_Christ_the_King_Reflection.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Lecturas:
Proverbios 31,10-13.19-20.30-31
Salmo 128, 1-5
1 Tesalonicenses 5, 1-6
Mateo 25, 14-30

El día del Señor viene, advierte San Pablo en la epístola del domingo. Lo que importa no es el tiempo o el momento, sino lo que Dios nos encuentre haciendo con la nueva vida y las gracias que Él nos ha dado.

Esto mismo se encuentra en el corazón de la parábola que Cristo narra en el Evangelio de esta semana. Jesús es el Señor. Al morir, resucitar y ascender al cielo, aparentemente se ha ido por largo tiempo.

Por nuestro bautismo, Él nos ha confiado a cada uno de nosotros una porción de su“hacienda”: una participación de su vida divina (cf. 2P 1,4). Nos ha dado talentos y responsabilidades según la medida de nuestra fe (cf. Rm 12,3.8).

Hemos de ser como la loable esposa de la primera lectura, y como la mujer fiel de la que cantamos en el salmo. Como ellas, debemos vivir en el “temor de Dios”: con reverencia, admiración y gratitud por los maravillosos dones que nos ha dado. Ese es el principio de la sabiduría (cf. Hch 9,31; Pr 1,7).

Ese no es el “temor” del siervo inútil que aparece esta semana en la parábola de Jesús. El suyo es el miedo de un esclavo que se empequeñece ante su señor cruel; el miedo de quien rechaza la relación con Dios a la que Él mismo nos llama.

Dios nos ha llamado a ser siervos de confianza, colaboradores suyos (cf. 1Co 3,9) que usen sus talentos para servirse unos a otros y a su Reino, como buenos administradores de su gracia (cf. 1P 4,10).

En ello, cada uno de nosotros tiene un papel diferente que jugar.

Aunque a los siervos buenos de la parábola se les dio diferente cantidad de talentos, cada uno “duplicó” los que se le habían entregado. Y cada uno de ellos mereció la misma recompensa por su fidelidad: compartir la alegría de su señor y tener una mayor responsabilidad a su cargo.

Por tanto, en nuestra Eucaristía, dispongámonos a rendir mucho más de lo que se nos ha dado, haciéndolo todo para la gloria de Dios (cf. 1Co 10,31), para que también nos acerquemos a Él con amor y confianza cuando venga a saldar cuentas con nosotros.

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Readings:
Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31
Psalm 128:1-5
1 Thessalonians 5:1-6
Matthew 25:14-30

The day of the Lord is coming, Paul warns in today's Epistle. What matters isn't the time or the season, but what the Lord finds us doing with the new life, the graces He has given to us.

This is at the heart of Jesus' parable in today's Gospel. Jesus is the Master. Having died, risen, and ascended into heaven, He appears to have gone away for a long time.

By our baptism, He has entrusted to each of us a portion of His "possessions," a share in His divine life (see 2 Peter 1:4). He has given us talents and responsibilities, according to the measure of our faith (see Romans 12:3,8).

We are to be like the worthy wife in today's First Reading, and the faithful man we sing of in today's Psalm. Like them, we should walk in the "fear of the Lord" - in reverence, awe, and thanksgiving for His marvelous gifts. This is the beginning of wisdom (see Acts 9:31; Proverbs 1:7).

This is not the "fear" of the useless servant in today's parable. His is the fear of a slave cowering before a cruel master, the fear of one who refuses the relationship that God calls us to.

He has called us to be trusted servants, fellow workers (see 1 Corinthians 3:9), using our talents to serve one another and His kingdom as good stewards of His grace (see 1 Peter 4:10).

In this, we each have a different part to play.

Though the good servants in today's parable were given different numbers of talents, each "doubled" what he was given. And each earned the same reward for his faithfulness - greater responsibilities and a share of the Master's joy.

So let us resolve again in this Eucharist to make much of what we've been given, to do all for the glory of God (see 1 Corinthians 10:31). That we, too, may approach our Master with confidence and love when He comes to settle accounts.

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Readings:
Wisdom 6:12-16
Psalm 63:2-8
1 Thessalonians 4:13-17
Matthew 25:1-13

According to marriage customs of Jesus' day, a bride was first "betrothed" to her husband but continued for a time to live with her family. Then, at the appointed hour, some months later, the groom would come to claim her, leading her family and bridal party to the wedding feast that would celebrate and inaugurate their new life together.

This is the background to the parable of the last judgment we hear in today's Gospel.

In the parable's symbolism, Jesus is the Bridegroom (see Mark 2:19). In this, He fulfills God's ancient promise to join himself forever to His chosen people as a husband cleaves to his bride (see Hosea 2:16-20). The virgins of the bridal party represent us, the members of the Church.

We were "betrothed" to Jesus in baptism (see 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-27) and are called to lives of holiness and devotion until He comes again to lead us to the heavenly wedding feast at the end of time (see Revelation 19:7-9; 21:1-4).

As St. Paul warns in today's Epistle, Jesus is coming again, though we know not the day nor the hour.

We need to keep vigil throughout the dark night of this time in which our Bridegroom seems long delayed. We need to keep our souls' lamps filled with the oil of perseverance and desire for God - virtues that are extolled in today's First Reading and Psalm.

We are to seek Him in love, meditating upon His kindness, calling upon His name, striving to be ever more worthy of Him, to be found without spot or blemish when He comes.

If we do this, we will be counted as wise and the oil for our lamps will not run dry (see 1 Kings 17:16). We will perceive the Bridegroom, the Wisdom of God (see Proverbs 8:22-31,35; 9:1-5), hastening toward us, beckoning us to the table He has prepared, the rich banquet which will satisfy our souls.

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Readings:
Malachi 1:14-2:2, 8-10
Psalm 131:1-3
1 Thessalonians 2:7-9, 13
Matthew 23:1-12

Though they were Moses' successors, the Pharisees and scribes exalted themselves, made their mastery of the law a badge of social privilege. Worse, they had lorded the law over the people (see Matthew 20:25). Like the priests Malachi condemns in today's First Reading, they caused many to falter and be closed off from God.

In a word, Israel's leaders failed to be good spiritual fathers of God's people. Moses was a humble father-figure, preaching the law but also practicing it - interceding and begging God's mercy and forgiveness of the people's sins (see Exodus 32:9-14; Psalm 90).

And Jesus reminds us today that all fatherhood - in the family or in the people of God - comes from the our Father in heaven (see Ephesians 3:15).

He doesn't mean we're to literally call no man "father." He himself referred to Israel's founding fathers (see John 7:42); the apostles taught about natural fatherhood (see Hebrews 12:7-11), and described themselves as spiritual fathers (see 1 Corinthians 4:14-16)

The fatherhood of the apostles and their successors, the Church's priests and bishops, is a spiritual paternity given to raise us as God's children. Our fathers give us new life in baptism, and feed us the spiritual milk of the gospel and the Eucharist (see 1 Peter 2:2-3). That's why Paul, in today's Epistle, can also compare himself to a nursing mother.

God's fatherhood likewise transcends all human notions of fatherhood and motherhood. Perhaps that's why the Psalm chosen for today includes one of the rare biblical images of God's maternal care (see Isaiah 66:13).

His only Son has shown us the Father (see John 14:9) coming to gather His children as a hen gathers her young (see Matthew 23:37). We're all brothers and sisters, our Lord tells us today. And all of us - even our spiritual fathers - are to trust in Him, humbly, like children on our mothers' laps.

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Lecturas:
Éxodo 22, 20-26
Salmo 18, 2-4.47.51
1 Tesalonicenses 1, 5-10
Mateo 22, 34-40

Jesús no vino a abolir el Antiguo Testamento, sino a cumplirlo (cf. Mt 5,17).

Y Él, en el Evangelio de hoy, revela que en el amor –a Dios y al prójimo- está el cumplimiento de toda la ley (cf. Rm 13,8-10).

Los israelitas devotos habían de cumplir los 613 mandamientos que se encuentran en los primeros cinco libros de la Biblia. Jesús dice hoy que todos ellos, así como la enseñanza de los profetas, se pueden resumir en dos versículos de la Ley (cf. Dt 6,5; Lv 19,18).

Jesús parece así resumir las dos tablas de piedra en las que Dios dejó grabado los diez mandamientos (cf. Ex 32, 15-16). La primera tabla exponía tres leyes concernientes al amor a Dios –como el mandamiento de no tomar su nombre en vano. La segunda contenía siete mandamientos sobre el amor al prójimo, como aquellos sobre el robo y el adulterio.

El amor es la bisagra que une las dos tablas de la ley. Pues no podemos amar a Dios, a quien no vemos, si no amamos a nuestro prójimo, a quien sí vemos (cf. 1Jn 4,20-22).

Pero este amor al que estamos llamados es mucho más que un simple afecto o un sentimiento cariñoso. Debemos darnos totalmente a Dios, amando con todo nuestro ser, con todo nuestro corazón, alma y mente. Nuestro amor al prójimo debe expresarse en acciones concretas, como las expuestas en la primera lectura.

Amamos porque Él nos amó primero (cf. Jn 4,19). Como cantamos en el salmo de hoy, Él ha sido nuestro libertador, nuestra fortaleza cuando no podíamos en modo alguno defendernos contra los enemigos del pecado y de la muerte.

Amamos al dar gracias por nuestra salvación. Y en esto nos convertimos en imitadores de Jesús, como San Pablo nos dice en la epístola de hoy, dejando de lado nuestra vida diariamente en lo grande y en lo pequeño, en lo que se ve y en lo oculto, ofreciéndola como continuo sacrificio de alabanza (cf. Jn 15,12-13; Hb 13,14).

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Readings:
Exodus 22:20-26
Psalm 18:2-4, 47, 51
1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
Matthew 22:34-40

Jesus came not to abolish the Old Testament law but to fulfill it (see Matthew 5:17)

And in today's Gospel, He reveals that love - of God and of neighbor - is the fulfillment of the whole of the law (see Romans 13:8-10).

Devout Israelites were to keep all 613 commands found in the Bible's first five books. Jesus says today that all these, and all the teachings of the prophets, can be summarized by two verses of this law (see Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18).

He seems to summarize the two stone tablets on which God was said to have engraved the ten commandments (see Exodus 32:15-16). The first tablet set out three laws concerning the love of God - such as the command not to take His name in vain; the second contained seven commands regarding love of neighbor, such as those against stealing and adultery.

Love is the hinge that binds the two tablets of the law. For we can't love God, whom we can't see, if we don't love our neighbor, whom we can (see 1 John 4:20-22).

But this love we are called to is far more than simple affection or warm sentiment. We must give ourselves totally to God - loving with our whole beings, with all our heart, soul and mind. Our love for our neighbor must express itself in concrete actions, such as those set out in today's First Reading.

We love because He first loved us (see 1 John 4:19). As we sing in today's Psalm, He has been our deliverer, our strength when we could not possibly defend ourselves against the enemies of sin and death.

We love in thanksgiving for our salvation. And in this become imitators of Jesus, as Paul tells us in today's Epistle - laying down our lives daily in ways large and small, seen and unseen; our lives offered as a continual sacrifice of praise (see John 15:12-13; Hebrews 13:15).

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Lecturas:
Isaías 45, 1.4-6
Salmo 96, 1.3-5.7-10
1 Tesalonicenses 1, 1-5
Mateo 22, 15-21

El Señor es el rey de toda la tierra, como cantamos en el salmo de este domingo. Los gobiernos ascienden y caen con su permiso, y no tienen más autoridad que la que les ha sido dada desde arriba (cf. Jn 19,11; Rm 13,1).

En efecto, Dios le dice a todo gobernante lo que hoy le dice al rey Ciro en la primera lectura: “Te he llamado…aunque no me conocías”.

El Señor ha levantado a Ciro para restablecer a los israelitas desde el exilio, y para reconstruir Jerusalén (cf. Esd 1,1-4). A lo largo de la historia de la salvación, Dios ha utilizado gobernantes extranjeros para bien de su pueblo elegido. El corazón del faraón fue endurecido para revelar el poder de Dios (cf. Rm 9,17). Los ejércitos invasores fueron usados para castigar a Israel por sus pecados (cf. 2 M 6,7-16).

En modo parecido, la ocupación romana que existía en tiempo de Jesús era una sentencia por la falta de fe de Israel. Las famosas palabras de Cristo en el Evangelio de esta semana: “Dar al César lo que es del César” son un recordatorio de ello. Y esas mismas palabras nos llaman, también a nosotros, a mantener firme nuestra lealtad.

Sólo Dios es nuestro rey. Su reino no es de este mundo (cf. Jn 18,36) pero comienza aquí en su Iglesia, que habla de su gloria entre todos los pueblos. Ciudadanos del cielo (cf. Flp 3,20), estamos llamados a ser luz para el mundo (cf. Mt 5,14), activos en la fe, esforzados en el amor y pacientes en la esperanza, como aconseja la epístola de hoy.

A nuestro gobierno le debemos la preocupación por el bien común y la obediencia a las leyes, siempre y cuando no entren en conflicto con los mandamientos de Dios interpretados por la Iglesia (cf. Hch 5,29).

Pero a Dios le debemos todo. La moneda lleva la imagen del César. Pero nosotros llevamos la imagen misma de Dios (cf. Gn 1,27). A Él le debemos nuestras vidas: nuestro corazón, mente, alma y fortaleza ofrecidos como sacrificio vivo de amor (cf. Rm 12,1-2).

Deberíamos rezar por nuestros líderes, que como Ciro hacen la voluntad de Dios (cf. 1Tm 2,1-2), hasta que desde el alba hasta el ocaso, toda la humanidad sepa que Jesús es el Señor.

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Readings:
Isaiah 45:1,4-6
Psalm 96:1,3-5, 7-10
1 Thessalonians 1:1-5
Matthew 22:15-21

The Lord is king over all the earth, as we sing in today's Psalm. Governments rise and fall by His permission, with no authority but that given from above (see John 19:11; Romans 13:1).

In effect, God says to every ruler what he tells King Cyrus in today's First Reading: "I have called you . . . though you knew me not."

The Lord raised up Cyrus to restore the Israelites from exile, and to rebuild Jerusalem (see Ezra 1:1-4). Throughout salvation history, God has used foreign rulers for the sake of His chosen people. Pharaoh's heart was hardened to reveal God's power (see Romans 9:17). Invading armies were used to punish Israel's sins (see 2 Maccabees 6:7-16).

The Roman occupation during Jesus' time was, in a similar way, a judgment on Israel's unfaithfulness. Jesus' famous words in today's Gospel: "Repay to Caesar" are a pointed reminder of this. And they call us, too, to keep our allegiances straight.

The Lord alone is our king. His kingdom is not of this world (see John 18:36) but it begins here in His Church, which tells of His glory among all peoples. Citizens of heaven (see Philippians 3:20), we are called to be a light to the world (see Matthew 5:14) - working in faith, laboring in love, and enduring in hope, as today's Epistle counsels.

We owe the government a concern for the common good, and obedience to laws - unless they conflict with God's commandments as interpreted by the Church (see Acts 5:29).

But we owe God everything. The coin bears Caesar's image. But we bear God's own image (see Genesis 1:27). We owe Him our very lives - all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, offered as a living sacrifice of love (see Romans 12:1-2).

We should pray for our leaders, that like Cyrus they do God's will (see 1 Timothy 2:1-2) - until from the rising of the sun to its setting, all humanity knows that Jesus is Lord.

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Lecturas:
Isaías 25, 6-10
Salmo 23, 1-6
Filipenses 4,12-14.19-20
Mateo 22,1-14

La parábola que Nuestro Señor nos da en el Evangelio de esta semana es nuevamente un claro compendio de la historia de la salvación.

Dios es el rey (cf. Mt 5,35), Jesús es el novio (cf. Mt 9,15), el banquete es la salvación y la vida eterna que Isaías profetiza en la primera lectura de este domingo. Los israelitas son los primeros que Dios ha invitado por medio de sus siervos, los profetas (cf. Is 7,25). Al rechazar continuamente las invitaciones de Dios, Israel ha sido castigado y su ciudad ha sido conquistada por ejércitos extranjeros.

Ahora, establece claramente Jesús, Dios ha enviado nuevos siervos, sus Apóstoles, para llamar no sólo a los israelitas, sino a todos los pueblos –buenos y malos- al banquete de su reino. Esa es una imagen de la Iglesia, a la que Jesús compara en otras partes con un campo sembrado de trigo y cizaña, o con una red de pesca en la que han caído tanto peces buenos como malos (cf. Mt 13,24-43; 47,50).

Hemos sido llamados a este gran banquete de amor en la Iglesia donde, como Isaías predijo, ha sido destruido el velo que una vez separó a las naciones de las alianzas de Israel; donde el muro divisorio de la enemistad ha sido derrumbado por la sangre de Cristo (cf. Ef 2,11-14).

Como cantamos en el salmo de esta semana, el Señor nos ha guiado a su banquete, ha refrescado nuestras almas con las aguas del bautismo, ha preparado la mesa ante nosotros en la Eucaristía. Como San Pablo nos dice en la epístola, en la espléndida riqueza de Cristo encontraremos satisfacción para cualquiera de nuestras necesidades. Y en el rico alimento de su Cuerpo, y el precioso vino que es su Sangre, pregustamos el banquete eterno de la Jerusalén celestial, en que Dios destruirá la muerte para siempre.

Pero, ¿llevamos un traje adecuado para el banquete?¿Estamos revestidos con prendas de justicia? (cf. Ap 19,8). Jesús advierte que no todos los llamados serán escogidos para la vida eterna. Asegurémonos de vivir en modo digno de la invitación que hemos recibido (cf. Ef 4,1).

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Readings:
Isaiah 25:6-10
Psalm 23:1-6
Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20
Matthew 22:1-14

Our Lord's parable in today's Gospel is again a fairly straightforward outline of salvation history.

God is the king (see Matthew 5:35), Jesus the bridegroom (see Matthew 9:15), the feast is the salvation and eternal life that Isaiah prophesies in today's First Reading. The Israelites are those first invited to the feast by God's servants, the prophets (see Isaiah 7:25). For refusing repeated invitations and even killing His prophets, Israel has been punished, its city conquered by foreign armies.

Now, Jesus makes clear, God has sending new servants, His apostles, to call not only Israelites, but all people - good and bad alike - to the feast of His kingdom. This an image of the Church, which Jesus elsewhere compares to a field sown with both wheat and weeds, and a fishing net that catches good fish and bad (see Matthew 13:24-43, 47-50).

We have all been called to this great feast of love in the Church, where, as Isaiah foretold, the veil that once separated the nations from the covenants of Israel has been destroyed, where the dividing wall of enmity has been torn down by the blood of Christ (see Ephesians 2:11-14).

As we sing in today's Psalm, the Lord has led us to this feast, refreshing our souls in the waters of baptism, spreading the table before us in the Eucharist. As Paul tells us in today's Epistle, in the glorious riches of Christ, we will find supplied whatever we need.

And in the rich food of His body, and the choice wine of His blood, we have a foretaste of the eternal banquet in the heavenly Jerusalem, when God will destroy death forever (see Hebrews 12:22-24).

But are we dressed for the feast, clothed in the garment of righteousness (see Revelation 19:8)? Not all who have been called will be chosen for eternal life, Jesus warns. Let us be sure that we're living in a manner worthy of the invitation we've received (see Ephesians 4:1).

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Lecturas:
Isaías 5, 1-7
Salmo 80,9.12-16.19-20
Filipenses 4, 6-9
Mateo 21,33-43

Jesús, en el Evangelio de esta semana, utiliza de nuevo el símbolo veterotestamentario de la viña para instruir sobre Israel, la Iglesia y el reino de Dios. Es fácil también comprender el simbolismo de la primera lectura y el salmo.

Dios es el propietario y la casa de Israel es la viña. Como vid apreciada, Israel es arrancada de Egipto y trasplantada en una tierra fértil preparada especialmente por Dios; es cercada por las murallas de Jerusalén y vigilada por el imponente Templo. Pero la viña no produjo uvas buenas para vino, símbolo de las vidas santas que Dios esperaba de su pueblo. Por ello Dios permitió que fuera invadida por invasores extranjeros, como Isaías prevé en la primera lectura.

Jesús continúa la historia en donde la deja Isaías, incluso usando sus palabras para describir el lagar, la cerca y la torre. Los líderes religiosos de Israel, los labradores de esta parábola, no han aprendido nada de Isaías ni del pasado de Israel. En vez de producir buenos frutos, han matado a los servidores del propietario, los profetas enviados para reunir la cosecha: las almas fieles.

Como oscuro presagio de su propia crucifixión fuera de Jerusalén, Jesús dice que el ultraje final de los labradores será detener al hijo del propietario y matarlo fuera de las murallas de la viña.

Por esto la viña, a la que Jesús llama reino de Dios, les será quitada y le será entregada a nuevos labradores: los líderes de la Iglesia, que producirá sus frutos.

Cada uno de nosotros es una vid en la viña del Señor, injertada en la Vid verdadera que es Cristo (cf. Jn 15,1-8), llamado a llevar frutos de justicia en Él (cf. Flp 1,11) y a ser “primicia” de una nueva creación (cf. St 1,18).

Debemos cuidar el no dejarnos perdernos por las espinas y las zarzas que son las preocupaciones del mundo. Como advierte la epístola de hoy, hemos de llenar nuestro corazón y nuestra mente con intenciones nobles y acciones virtuosas, regocijándonos siempre por que el Señor está cerca.

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Isaiah 5:1-7
Psalm 80:9, 12-16, 19-20
Philippians 4:6-9
Matthew 21:33-43

In today's Gospel Jesus returns to the Old Testament symbol of the vineyard to teach about Israel, the Church, and the kingdom of God.

And the symbolism of today's First Reading and Psalm is readily understood.

God is the owner and the house of Israel is the vineyard. A cherished vine, Israel was plucked from Egypt and transplanted in a fertile land specially spaded and prepared by God, hedged about by the city walls of Jerusalem, watched over by the towering Temple. But the vineyard produced no good grapes for the wine, a symbol for the holy lives God wanted for His people. So God allowed His vineyard to be overrun by foreign invaders, as Isaiah foresees in the First Reading.

Jesus picks up the story where Isaiah leaves off, even using Isaiah's words to describe the vineyard's wine press, hedge, and watchtower. Israel's religious leaders, the tenants in His parable, have learned nothing from Isaiah or Israel's past. Instead of producing good fruits, they've killed the owner's servants, the prophets sent to gather the harvest of faithful souls.

In a dark foreshadowing of His own crucifixion outside Jerusalem, Jesus says the tenants' final outrage will be to seize the owner's son, and to kill him outside the vineyard walls.

For this, the vineyard, which Jesus calls the kingdom of God, will be taken away and given to new tenants - the leaders of the Church, who will produce its fruit.

We are each a vine in the Lord's vineyard, grafted onto the true vine of Christ (see John 15:1-8), called to bear fruits of the righteousness in Him (see Philippians 1:11), and to be the "first fruits" of a new creation (see James 1:18).

We need to take care that we don't let ourselves be overgrown with the thorns and briers of worldly anxiety. As today's Epistle advises, we need to fill our hearts and minds with noble intentions and virtuous deeds, rejoicing always that the Lord is near.

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Lecturas:
Ezequiel 18, 25-28
Salmo 25, 4-9
Filipenses 2, 1-11
Mateo 21, 28-32

Haciendo eco de las quejas escuchadas en las lecturas de la semana pasada, la primera lectura de hoy también presenta reclamos que afirman que Dios no es justo. ¿Por qué castiga con la muerte a un virtuoso que cae en la iniquidad, mientras asegura la vida al débil que se convierte del pecado?

Esta es la pregunta que Jesús trae a cuento en la parábola del Evangelio de hoy.

El primer hijo representa a los más empedernidos pecadores de la época -publicanos y prostitutas-, que al principio, por su pecado, se resisten a servir en la viña del Señor, el reino. Ellos, con la predicación de Juan el Bautista, se arrepintieron he hicieron lo justo y correcto. El segundo hijo representa a los líderes de Israel, quienes dijeron que servirían a Dios en la viña, pero se negaron a creerle a Juan cuando les dijo que debían producir frutos como prueba de su arrepentimiento (cf. Mt 3,8).

Nuevamente, las lecturas de esta semana nos invitan a ponderar los insondables caminos de la justicia y la misericordia de Dios. Él enseña sus caminos sólo a los humildes, como cantamos en el salmo de este día. Y en la epístola de hoy San Pablo presenta a Jesús como el modelo de esa humildad por la cual llegamos a conocer la verdadera senda de la vida.

San Pablo canta un bello himno a la Encarnación. A diferencia de Adán, el primer hombre que en su orgullo pretendió ser Dios, Jesús, el Nuevo Adán, se humilló a sí mismo hasta hacerse esclavo, obediente incluso hasta la muerte en la cruz (cf. Rm 5,14). Por esto nos ha mostrado a cada uno de nosotros, pecadores, el camino del retorno al Padre. Sólo podemos venir a Dios para servir en su viña, la Iglesia, si tenemos la misma actitud de Cristo.

Los líderes de Israel carecieron de ella. En su vanagloria, presumieron su superioridad, asumiendo que ya no tenían necesidad de escuchar a los servidores de Dios ni su Palabra.

Pero ese es el camino de la muerte, como Dios le dice hoy a Ezequiel. Hemos de vaciarnos continuamente, buscando el perdón por nuestros pecados y fragilidades y confesando, con las rodillas dobladas, que Él es el Señor para la gloria del Padre.

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Readings:
Ezekiel 18:25-28
Psalm 25:4-9
Philippians 2:1-11
Matthew 21:28-32

Echoing the complaint heard in last week's readings, today's First Reading again presents protests that God isn't fair. Why does He punish with death one who begins in virtue but falls into iniquity, while granting life to the wicked one who turns from sin?

This is the question that Jesus takes up in the parable in today's Gospel.

The first son represents the most heinous sinners of Jesus' day - tax collectors and prostitutes - who by their sin at first refuse to serve in the Lord's vineyard, the kingdom. At the preaching of John the Baptist, they repented and did what is right and just. The second son represents Israel's leaders - who said they would serve God in the vineyard, but refused to believe John when he told them they must produce good fruits as evidence of their repentance (see Matthew 3:8).

Once again, this week's readings invite us to ponder the unfathomable ways of God's justice and mercy. He teaches His ways only to the humble, as we sing in today's Psalm. And in the Epistle today, Paul presents Jesus as the model of that humility by which we come to know life's true path.

Paul sings a beautiful hymn to the Incarnation. Unlike Adam, the first man, who in his pride grasped at being God, the New Adam, Jesus, humbled himself to become a slave, obedient even unto death on the cross (see Romans 5:14). In this He has shown sinners - each one of us - the way back to the Father. We can only come to God, to serve in His vineyard, the Church, by having that same attitude as Christ.

This is what Israel's leaders lacked. In their vainglory, they presumed their superiority - that they had no further need to hear God's Word or God's servants.

But this is the way to death, as God tells Ezekiel today. We are always to be emptying ourselves, seeking forgiveness for our sins and frailties, confessing on bended knee that He is Lord, to the glory of the Father.

Direct download: Breaking_the_Bread_26th_Sunday_Reflection.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Lecturas
Isaías 55, 6-9
Salmo 145, 2-3.8-9.17-18
Filipenses 1, 20-24.27
Mateo 20,1-16

La casa de Israel es la viña de Dios que Él plantó y regó, preparando a los israelitas para dar frutos de justicia (cf. Is 5,7; 27,2-5).

Israel no produjo frutos buenos y el Señor permitió que su viña, el reino de Israel, fuera invadida por conquistadores (cf. Sal 80, 9-20). Pero Dios prometió que un día replantaría su viña y sus brotes florecerían hasta los confines de la tierra (cf. Am 9,15; Os 14, 5-10).

Esto es el trasfondo bíblico de la parábola de Jesús sobre la historia de la salvación que presenta el Evangelio de hoy. Dios es el dueño. La viña es el reino. Los trabajadores contratados al amanecer son los israelitas, los primeros a quienes Él ofreció su alianza. Los que son contratados después son los gentiles, los no israelitas, quienes hasta la venida de Cristo eran extraños a las alianzas y promesas (cf. Ef 2,11-13). En la gran misericordia de Dios, el mismo sueldo, las mismas bendiciones prometidas a los primeros llamados -los israelitas- serán pagados a los que fueron llamados por último, al resto de las naciones.

Estas palabras provocan murmuraciones en la parábola de hoy. Las quejas de esos primeros trabajadores, ¿no suenan acaso como las del hermano mayor de la parábola del hijo pródigo? (cf. Lc 15,29-30). Los caminos de Dios, sin embargo, están lejos de los nuestros, como escuchamos en la primera lectura de hoy. Y las lecturas de hoy deberían prevenirnos contra la tentación de renegar de la generosa misericordia divina.

Como los gentiles, muchos serán admitidos al final para entrar en el reino, luego de pasar la mayoría de sus días holgazaneando en el pecado.

Pero incluso estos pueden acudir a Él y encontrarlo cerca, como cantamos en el salmo de este día. Debemos regocijarnos de que Dios tenga compasión hacia todos los que ha creado. Eso nos debería consolar, especialmente si somos de los que permanecen lejos de la viña.

Nuestra tarea consiste en seguir trabajando en su viña. Como San Pablo dice en la epístola de hoy, conduzcámonos dignamente luchando para que todo hombre y mujer alabe su Nombre.

Direct download: A_25_Ordinary_Spn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Readings
Isaiah 55:6-9
Psalm145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18
Philippians 1:20-24, 27
Matthew 20:1-16

The house of Israel is the vine of God - who planted and watered it, preparing the Israelites to bear fruits of righteousness (see Isaiah 5:7; 27:2-5).

Israel failed to yield good fruits and the Lord allowed His vineyard, Israel's kingdom, to be overrun by conquerors (see Psalm 80:9-20). But God promised that one day He would replant His vineyard and its shoots would blossom to the ends of the earth (see Amos 9:15; Hosea 14:5-10).

This is the biblical backdrop to Jesus' parable of salvation history in today's Gospel. The landowner is God. The vineyard is the kingdom. The workers hired at dawn are the Israelites, to whom He first offered His covenant. Those hired later in the day are the Gentiles, the non-Israelites, who, until the coming of Christ, were strangers to the covenants of promise (see Ephesians 2:11-13). In the Lord's great generosity, the same wages, the same blessings promised to the first-called, the Israelites, will be paid to those called last, the rest of the nations.

This provokes grumbling in today's parable. Doesn't the complaint of those first laborers sound like that of the older brother in Jesus' prodigal son parable (see Luke 15:29-30)? God's ways, however, are far from our ways, as we hear in today's First Reading. And today's readings should caution us against the temptation to resent God's lavish mercy.

Like the Gentiles, many will be allowed to enter the kingdom late - after having spent most of their days idling in sin.

But even these can call upon Him and find Him near, as we sing in today's Pslam. We should rejoice that God has compassion on all whom He has created. This should console us, too, especially if we have loved ones who remain far from the vineyard.

Our task is to continue laboring in His vineyard. As Paul says in today's Epistle, let us conduct ourselves worthily, struggling to bring all men and women to the praise of His name.

Direct download: Breaking_the_Bread_25th_Sunday_Reflection.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Readings:
Sirach 27:30-28:7
Psalm 103:1-4, 9-12
Romans 14:7-9
Matthew 18:21-35

Mercy and forgiveness should be at the heart of the Christian life.

Yet, as today's First Reading wisely reminds us, often we cherish our wrath, nourish our anger, refuse mercy to those who have done us wrong. Jesus, too, strikes close to home in today's Gospel, with His realistic portrayal of the wicked servant - who won't forgive a fellow servant's debt, even though his own slate has just been wiped clean by their Master.

It can't be this way in the kingdom, the Church. In the Old Testament, "seven" is frequently a number associated with mercy and the forgiveness of sins. The just man sins seven times daily; there is a seven-fold sprinking of blood for atonement of sins (see Proverbs 24:6; Leviticus 16). But Jesus tells Peter today that we must forgive not seven times, but seventy times seven times. That means: every time.

We are to be merciful as our Father in heaven is merciful (see Luke 6:36; Matthew 5:48). But why? Why does Jesus repeatedly warn that we can't expect forgiveness for our trespasses unless we're willing to forgive others their trespasses against us?

Because, as Paul reminds us in today's Epistle, we are the Lord's. Each of us has been purchased by the blood of Christ shed for us on the cross (see Revelation 5:9). As we sing in today's Psalm, though we deserved to die for our sins, He doesn't deal with us according to our crimes. The mercy and forgiveness we show to others should be the heartfelt expression of our gratitude for the mercy and forgiveness shown to us.

This is why we should remember our last days, set our enmities aside, and stop judging others. We know that one day we will stand before the judgment seat and give account for what we've done with the new life given to us by Christ (see Romans 14:10,12).

So we forgive each other from the heart, overlook each other's faults, and await the crown of His kindness and compassion.

Direct download: A_24_Ordinary.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Lecturas:
Ezequiel 33, 7-9
Salmo 95, 1-2.6-9
Romanos 13, 8-10
Mateo 18, 15-20

Así como en la primera lectura de hoy Ezequiel es designado centinela sobre la casa de Israel, Jesús establece a sus discípulos como guardianes del nuevo Israel de Dios -la Iglesia- en el Evangelio de este día (cf. Ga 6,16). 

También establece procedimientos en el caso de pecados en el caso de pecados y para faltas de fe, basados en la disciplina que Moisés proscribió a Israel (cf. Lv 19,17-20; Dt 19,13). Sin embargo, los jefes del nuevo Israel reciben poderes extraordinarios, similares a los que se le dieron a Pedro (cf. Mt 16,19). Tienen la potestad de atar y desatar, de perdonar los pecados y reconciliar a los pecadores en su Nombre (cf. Jn 20,21-23).

Pero los poderes que Cristo les da a los apóstoles y sus sucesores dependen de su comunión con Él.  Así como Ezequiel solo debe enseñar lo que escucha decir a Dios, los discípulos han de congregar en su Nombre, orar y buscar la voluntad del Padre celestial.

Pero las lecturas de hoy son más que una lección sobre el orden de la Iglesia. Nos sugieren además cómo debemos tratar a los que nos ofenden, un tema sobre el cual también escucharemos en las lecturas de la próxima semana.

Es de notar que, tanto el Evangelio como la primera lectura, asumen que los creyentes tenemos el deber de corregir a los pecadores que están entre nosotros.  A Ezequiel incluso se le dice que dará cuentas por sus almas si no les habla e intenta corregirlos.

Esto es el amor que le debemos a nuestro prójimo, según nos dice hoy San Pablo en su epístola. Amar al prójimo como a nosotros mismos significa dar una importancia vital a su salvación. Como Jesús dice, debemos hacer cualquier esfuerzo para ganar nuevamente a nuestros hermanos y hermanas, para hacerlos regresar de los falsos caminos.

No debemos nunca corregir al otro con enojo o con deseos de castigar. Más bien nuestro mensaje debe ser como el del salmo de hoy: urgir al pecador a que escuche la voz de Dios, a no endurecer su corazón, a recordar que Él es quien nos ha hecho, la Roca de nuestra salvación.

Direct download: A_23_Ordinary_Spn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Readings:
Ezekiel 33:7-9
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9
Romans 13:8-10
Matthew 18:15-20

As Ezekiel is appointed watchman over the house of Israel in today's first Reading, so Jesus in the Gospel today establishes His disciples as guardians of the new Israel of God, the Church (see Galatians 6:16).

He also puts in place procedures for dealing with sin and breaches of the faith, building on laws of discipline prescribed by Moses for Israel (see Leviticus 19:17-20; Deuteronomy 19:13). The heads of the new Israel, however, receive extraordinary powers - similar to those given to Peter (see Matthew 16:19). They have the power to bind and loose, to forgive sins and to reconcile sinners in His name (see John 20:21-23).

But the powers He gives the apostles and their successors depends on their communion with Him. As Ezekiel is only to teach what he hears God saying, the disciples are to gather in His name and to pray and seek the will of our heavenly Father.

But today's readings are more than a lesson in Church order. They also suggest how we're to deal with those who trespass against us, a theme that we'll hear in next week's readings as well.

Notice that both the Gospel and the First Reading presume that believers have a duty to correct sinners in our midst. Ezekiel is even told that he will be held accountable for their souls if he fails to speak out and try to correct them.

This is the love that Paul in today's Epistle says we owe to our neighbors. To love our neighbors as ourselves is to be vitally concerned for their salvation. We must make every effort, as Jesus says, to win our brothers and sisters back, to turn them from the false paths.

We should never correct out of anger, or a desire to punish. Instead our message must be that of today's Psalm - urging sinner to hear God's voice, not to harden their hearts, and to remember that He is the one who made us, and the rock of our salvation.

Direct download: Breaking_the_Bread_23rd_Sunday_Reflection.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Lecturas:

Jeremías 20, 7-9
Salmo 63, 2-6.8-9
Romanos 12, 1-2
Mateo 16, 21-27

La primera lectura de este domingo sorprende al profeta Jeremías en un momento de debilidad. Su íntimo lamento contiene algunas de las expresiones más fuertes de la Biblia referentes a la duda. En su seguimiento de la llamada de Dios, Jeremías se siente abandonado. Lo único que le ha acarreado la predicación de su Palabra es escarnio.

Pero Dios no engaña y Jeremías lo sabe. Él examina al justo (cf. Jr 20,11-12) y corrige a sus hijos mediante pruebas y sufrimientos (cf. Hb 12,5-7).

Lo que Jeremías aprende, Jesús lo afirma explícitamente en el Evangelio de esta semana. Seguirlo es cargar una cruz, negarte a ti mismo –tus prioridades, preferencias y comodidades.

Es estar dispuesto a renunciar a todo, incluso a la vida misma, por la causa de su Evangelio. Como dice san Pablo en su epístola, debemos unirnos a la pasión de Cristo para ofrecer nuestros cuerpos – todo nuestro ser- como sacrificios vivos a Dios.

Por su cruz, Jesús nos ha mostrado lo que los sacrificios de Israel habían de enseñar: que a Dios le debemos todo lo que tenemos.

La bondad de Dios es un bien más grande que la vida misma, como cantamos en el salmo de este domingo. La única muestra de gratitud que podemos ofrecerle es nuestra adoración espiritual: entregar nuestra vida al servicio de su voluntad (cf. Hb 10,3-11; Sal 50, 14,23).

Pedro aún no ha entendido esto en el Evangelio de hoy. Como le sucedió a Jeremías, la cruz es escándalo para Pedro (cf. 1 Co 1,23). Esa es también nuestra tentación natural: negarnos a creer que nuestros sufrimientos juegan un papel importante en el plan de Dios.

Así es como piensa la gente, nos dice Jesús esta semana. Pero estamos llamados a renovar nuestras mentes para pensar como Dios piensa, para querer lo que Él quiere.

En la Misa nos ofrecemos nuevamente como sacrificio de alabanza agradable y perfecto (cf. Hb 13,15). Bendecimos al Señor pues estamos vivos, confiados en que encontraremos nuestra vida al perderla; en que las riquezas de Su banquete satisfarán nuestra alma.

Direct download: A_22_Ordinary_Spn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Readings:
Jeremiah 20:7-9
Psalm 63:2-6, 8-9
Romans 12:1-2
Matthew 16:21-27

Today’s First Reading catches the prophet Jeremiah in a moment of weakness. His intimate lamentation contains some of the strongest language of doubt found in the Bible. Following God’s call, he feels abandoned. Preaching His Word has brought him only derision and reproach.

But God does not deceive—and Jeremiah knows this. He tests the just (see Jeremiah 20:11–12), and disciplines His children through their sufferings and trials (see Hebrews 12:5–7).

What Jeremiah learns Jesus states explicitly in today’s Gospel. To follow Him is to take up a cross, to deny yourself— your priorities, preferences, and comforts. It is to be willing to give it all up, even life itself, for the sake of His gospel. As Paul says in today’s Epistle, we have to join ourselves to the Passion of Christ, to offer our bodies—our whole beings—as living sacrifices to God.

By His Cross, Jesus has shown us what Israel’s sacrifices of animals were meant to teach—that we owe to God all that we have.

God’s kindness is a greater good than life itself, as we sing in today’s Psalm. The only thanks we can offer is our spiritual worship—to give our lives to the service of His will (see Hebrews 10:3–11; Psalm 50:14, 23).

Peter doesn’t yet get this in today’s Gospel. As it was for Jeremiah, the cross is a stumbling block for Peter (see 1 Corinthians 1:23). This too is our natural temptation—to refuse to believe that our sufferings play a necessary part in God’s plan.

That’s how people think, Jesus tells us today. But we are called to the renewal of our minds—to think as God thinks, to will what He wills.

In the Mass, we once again offer ourselves as perfect and pleasing sacrifices of praise (see Hebrews 13:15). We bless Him as we live, confident that we will find our lives in losing them, that with the riches of His banquet, our souls will be satisfied.

Direct download: Breaking_the_Bread_22nd_Sunday_Reflection.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Lecturas:

Isaías 22,15.19-23
Salmo 138,1-3.6.8
Romanos 11,33-36
Mateo 16,13-20

 “¡Oh profundidad de la riqueza, la sabiduría y la ciencia de Dios!”, exclama San Pablo en la epístola de esta semana. También el salmo del domingo toma una triunfante expresión de alegría y gratitud. ¿Porqué? Porque en el Evangelio, el Padre celestial revela el misterio de su reino a Pedro.

Con Pedro, nos regocijamos de que Jesús es el hijo ungido prometido a David, de quien se había profetizado que construiría el templo del Señor y reinaría sobre un reino eterno (cf. 2 S 7).

Lo que Jesús llama “mi Iglesia” es el reino prometido al hijo de David (cf. Is 9,1-7). Como escuchamos en la primera lectura del domingo, Isaías predijo que las llaves del reino de David les serían entregadas a un nuevo Señor, que gobernaría al pueblo de Dios como un padre.

Sólo Jesús, la raíz y descendencia de David, tiene las llaves del reino (cf. Ap 1,18; 3,7; 2,16).  Al entregarle esas llaves a Pedro, Jesús cumple esa profecía, estableciendo a Pedro—y a todos sus sucesores—como santo padre de su Iglesia.

Su Iglesia es también la nueva casa de Dios: el templo espiritual fundado sobre la “roca” de Pedro y construido con las piedras vivas que somos todos y cada uno de los creyentes.

Abraham fue llamado “la roca” de quien los hijos de Israel fueron labrados (cf. Is 51,1-2). Y Pedro viene a ser la roca de la cual Dios hace surgir nuevos hijos de suyos (cf. Mt 3,9).

La Palabra que usa Jesús—“iglesia” (ekklesia en griego)—fue usada en la traducción griega del Antiguo Testamento para referirse a la “asamblea” de los hijos de Dios posterior al éxodo (cf. Dt 18,16; 31,30).

Su Iglesia es la “asamblea de los primogénitos” (cf. Hb 12,23; Ex 4,23-24) establecida por el éxodo de Jesús (cf. Lc 9,31). Como los israelitas, somos bautizados en agua, guiados por la Roca y alimentados con comida espiritual (cf. 1Co 10,1-5).

Congregados en su altar, en la presencia de ángeles, cantamos su alabanza y le damos gracias a su Nombre santo.

Direct download: A_21_Ordinary_Spn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Readings:

Isaiah 22:15, 19-23
Psalm 138:1-3, 6, 8
Romans 11:33-36
Matthew 16:13-20 (see also "Peter's Powers")

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!” Paul exclaims in today’s Epistle. Today’s Psalm, too, takes up the triumphant note of joy and thanksgiving. Why? Because in the Gospel, the heavenly Father reveals the mystery of His kingdom to Peter.

With Peter, we rejoice that Jesus is the anointed son promised to David, the one prophesied to build God’s temple and reign over an everlasting kingdom (see 2 Samuel 7).

What Jesus calls “my Church” is the kingdom promised to David’s son (see Isaiah 9:1–7). As we hear in today’s First Reading, Isaiah foretold that the keys to David’s kingdom would be given to a new master, who would rule as father to God’s people.

Jesus, the root and offspring of David, alone holds the kingdom’s keys (see Revelation 1:18; 3:7; 22:16). In giving those keys to Peter, Jesus fulfills that prophecy, establishing Peter—and all who succeed him—as holy father of His Church.

His Church, too, is the new house of God—the spiritual temple founded on the “rock” of Peter, and built up out of the living stones of individual believers (see 1 Peter 2:5).

Abraham was called “the rock” from which the children of Israel were hewn (see Isaiah 51:1–2). And Peter becomes the rock from which God raises up new children of God (see Matthew 3:9).

The word Jesus uses—“church” (ekklesia in Greek)—was used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament for the “assembly” of God’s children after the exodus (see Deuteronomy 18:16; 31:30).

His Church is the “assembly of the firstborn” (see Hebrews 12:23; Exodus 4:23–24), established by Jesus’ exodus (see Luke 9:31). Like the Israelites, we are baptized in water, led by the Rock, and fed with spiritual food (see 1 Corinthians 10:1–5).

Gathered at His altar, in the presence of angels, we sing His praise and give thanks to His holy name.

Direct download: Breaking_the_Bread_21st_Sunday_Reflection.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Lecturas:

Isaías 56,1.6-7
Salmo 67,2-3.5.6.8
Romanos 11,13-15. 29-32
Mateo 15, 21-28

La mayoría de nosotros somos extranjeros, los no israelitas sobre quienes profetiza la primera lectura de esta semana.

Al venir a adorar al Dios de Israel, nos situamos en la línea de fe personificada por la mujer cananea en el Evangelio de esta semana. Al llamar a Jesús Señor, e hijo de David, esta extranjera muestra su gran fe en la alianza de Dios con Israel.

Jesús prueba tres veces su fe. Se niega a responder a su grito. Después le dice que su misión está destinada sólo a los israelitas. Finalmente utiliza la palabra “perro”,  una expresión utilizada para menospreciar a los no israelitas (cf. Mt 7,6).

Sin embargo ella persiste en creer que sólo Él ofrece la salvación.

En este drama familiar vemos cumplida la profecía de Isaías y la promesa de la que cantamos en el salmo de este domingo. En Jesús, Dios da a conocer a todas las naciones su camino y su salvación (cf. Jn 14,6). 

Al comienzo de la historia de la salvación, Dios llamó a Abraham (cf. Gn 12,2). Él escogió a su descendencia, Israel, de entre todas las naciones que había sobre la faz de la tierra, para construir el reino de su alianza (cf. Dt 7,6-8; Is 41,8).

En el plan de Dios, Abraham había de ser el padre de muchas naciones (cf. Rm 4,16-17). Israel había de ser el primogénito de una familia de Dios extendida por todo el mundo, conformada por todos aquellos que creen en lo que la cananea profesa: que Jesús es el Señor (cf. Ex 4,22-23; Rm 5,13-21).

Jesus came first to restore the kingdom to Israel (see Acts 1:6; 13:46). But His ultimate mission was the reconciliation of the world, as Paul declares in Sunday’s Epistle.

Jesús vino en primer lugar para restaurar el reino de Israel (cf. Hch 1,6; 13,46). Pero su misión última era la reconciliación del mundo, como San Pablo declara en la epístola de este domingo.

En la Misa nos unimos a todos los pueblos para rendirle homenaje. Como Isaías había predicho, venimos a su monte santo, la Jerusalén celestial, para ofrecer sacrificios en su altar (cf. Hb 12,22-24.28). Con la mujer cananea, tomamos nuestro lugar en la mesa del Señor para ser alimentados como sus hijos.

Direct download: A_20_Ordinary_Spn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Readings:


Isaiah 56:1, 6-7
Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
Romans 11:13-15, 29-32
Matthew 15:21-28

Most of us are the foreigners, the non-Israelites, about whom today's First Reading prophesies.

Coming to worship the God of Israel, we stand in the line of faith epitomized by the Canaanite woman in today's Gospel. Calling to Jesus as Lord and Son of David, this foreigner shows her great faith in God's covenant with Israel.

Jesus tests her faith three times. He refuses to answer her cry. Then, He tells her His mission is only to Israelites. Finally, he uses "dog," an epithet used to disparage non-Israelites (see Matthew 7:6). Yet she persists, believing that He alone offers salvation.

In this family drama, we see fulfilled Isaiah's prophecy and the promise we sing of in today's Psalm. In Jesus, God makes known among all the nations His way and His salvation (see John 14:6).

At the start of salvation history, God called Abraham (see Genesis 12:2). He chose his offspring, Israel, from all the nations on the face of the earth, to build His covenant kingdom (see Deuteronomy 7:6-8; Isaiah 41:8).

In God's plan, Abraham was to be the father of many nations (see Romans 4:16-17). Israel was to be the firstborn of a worldwide family of God, made up of all who believe what the Canaanite professes— that Jesus is Lord (see Exodus 4:22-23; Romans 5:13-24).

Jesus came first to restore the kingdom to Israel (see Acts 1:6; 13:46). But His ultimate mission was the reconciliation of the world, as Paul declares in today's Epistle.

In the Mass we join all peoples in doing Him homage. As Isaiah foretold, we come to His holy mountain, the heavenly Jerusalem, to offer sacrifice at His altar (see Hebrews 12:22-24,28). With the Canaanite, we take our place at the Master's table, to be fed as His children.

Direct download: Breaking_the_Bread_20th_Sunday_Reflection.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Lecturas:

1 Reyes 19,9.11-13
Salmo 85, 9-14
Romanos 9,1-5
Mateo 14, 22-33


¿Cómo encontramos a Dios en medio de las tormentas y luchas de nuestra vida, en las pruebas que enfrentamos cuando tratamos de hacer su voluntad? Dios le manda a Elías en la primera lectura permanecer de pie en el monte para esperar su paso por ahí.

Y en el Evangelio, Jesús hace a sus discípulos salir a su encuentro a través de las aguas. En cada caso, el Señor se hace presente en medio de acontecimientos aterradores: vientos fuertes y olas altas, fuego y terremotos.

Elías oculta su rostro. Talvez recuerda a Moisés, quien se encontró con Dios en esa misma montaña, también en medio de fuego, truenos y humo (cf. Dt 4,10-15; Ex 19, 17-19).

Dios le dijo a Moisés que nadie podría ver su rostro y vivir, y lo hizo resguardarse en el hueco de una roca, como resguarda ahora a Elías en una cueva (cf. Ex 33, 18-23).

Del mismo modo, los discípulos están demasiado asustados para ver el rostro de Dios. El Evangelio de esta semana es una revelación de la identidad divina de Jesús. Sólo Dios cruza andando entre las crestas del mar (cf. Jb 9,8) y gobierna las aguas embravecidas (cf. Sal 89, 9-10).

Y las palabras de confianza que pronuncia Jesús – “soy Yo”- son las mismas que Dios le dijo a Moisés para identificarse (cf. Ex 3,14; Is 43,10).

Incluso Pedro está demasiado invadido por el miedo para imitar a su Señor. Sus temores, le dice Jesús, son signo de su poca fe. Y eso pasa frecuentemente con nosotros. Nuestros temores nos hacen dudar, nos dificultan ver su gloria que mora entre nosotros.

Sin embargo, como cantamos en el salmo de este domingo, deberíamos saber que su salvación está cerca de los que en Él esperan. Por la fe deberíamos saber, como afirma San Pablo en la epístola, que somos herederos de las promesas hechas a sus hijos, al pueblo de Israel.

Debemos confiar en que Él nos habla al oído en las pruebas de nuestra vida; en que Aquel que nos ha llamado a seguir sus pasos, nos salvará cada vez que comencemos a hundirnos.

Direct download: A_19_Ordinary_Spn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:38am EST

Readings:

1 Kings 19:9, 11-13
Psalm 85:9-14
Romans 9:1-5
Matthew 14:22-33

How do we find God in the storms and struggles of our lives, in the trials we encounter in trying to do His will?

God commands Elijah in today's First Reading to stand on the mountain and await His passing by. And in the Gospel, Jesus makes the disciples set out across the waters to meet Him.

In each case, the Lord makes himself present amid frightening tumult - heavy winds and high waves, fire and earthquakes.

Elijah hides his face. Perhaps he remembers Moses, who met God on the same mountain, also amid fire, thunder, and smoke (see Deuteronomy 4:10-15; Exodus 19:17-19). God told Moses no one could see His face and live, and He sheltered Moses in the hollow of a rock, as He shelters Elijah in a cave (see Exodus 33:18-23).

The disciples, likewise, are too terrified to look on the face of God. Today's Gospel is a revelation of Jesus' divine identity. Only God treads across the crest of the sea (see Job 9:8) and rules the raging waters (see Psalm 89:9-10). And the words of assurance that Jesus speaks - "It is I" - are those God used to identify himself to Moses (see Exodus 3:14; Isaiah 43:10).

Even Peter is too overcome by fear to imitate his Lord. His fears, Jesus tells him, are a sign of his lack of faith. And so it often is with us. Our fears make us doubt, make it hard to see His glory dwelling in our midst.

Yet, we should know, as we sing in today's Psalm, that His salvation is near to those who hope in Him. By faith we should know, as Paul asserts in today's Epistle, that we are heirs to the promises made to His children, Israel.

We must trust that He whispers to us in the trials of our lives - that He who has called us to walk along the way of His steps, will save us whenever we begin to sink.

Direct download: Breaking_the_Bread_19th_Sunday_Reflection.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 9:38am EST

Lecturas:

Daniel 7, 9-10, 13-14
Salmo 97, 1-2, 5-6, 9
2 Pedro 1, 16-19
Matteo 17, 1-9

El evangelio de este domingo muestra cómo Cristo, mediante su Transfiguración,  revela su verdadera identidad en la cima de la montaña santa.

Situado en medio de Moisés y Elías, Jesús es el puente que une la Ley antigua,  los profetas y los salmos (Cfr. Lc 24, 24-27). Como Moisés, Jesús sube a la montaña con tres acompañantes cuyos nombres conocemos y contempla la gloria de Dios en una nube (Cfr. Ex 24, 1,9,15). Como Elías, Él también escucha la voz de Dios en la montaña (1R 19, 8-19).

Según la profecía, Elías tenía que regresar como heraldo del Mesías y de la Nueva Alianza con el Señor (Cfr. Ml 3,1, 23-24). Jesús se revela ahora como ese Mesías. Por su muerte y resurrección, como él lo dice en la intimidad a sus  apóstoles,  hace una Nueva Alianza con toda la Creación.

La voz majestuosa anuncia a Jesús como el mismo Hijo amado de Dios, en quien el Padre se complace (Cfr. S 2,7). Con esas palabras,  Dios nos permite asomarnos brevemente a su interior. En la nube que representa el Espíritu Santo, el Padre revela su amor hacia el Hijo y nos invita a compartir ese amor como hijos suyos bienamados.

Envuelto en las nubes del cielo, con sus vestiduras resplandecientes, Jesús es el Hijo del Hombre cuya entronización profetiza  Daniel en la primera lectura de este domingo.

Él es el rey, el Señor de toda la tierra, como cantamos en el salmo de este domingo. Pero debemos preguntarnos,  ¿es también Cristo el Señor de nuestra mente y de nuestro corazón?

En el Evangelio de hoy, la última palabra que Dios dice desde el cielo es un mandato: “Escúchenlo” (Cfr. Dt 18, 15-19).

La palabra del Señor debería ser una luz que brilla en las tinieblas, como nos dice San Pedro en la segunda lectura. Sin embargo, ¿estamos realmente escuchando? ¿Ponemos atención a su Palabra cada día?

Dispongámonos nuevamente a escuchar.  Oigamos a Cristo como Palabra de vida; contemplémoslo como radiante Lucero del alba (Cfr. Ap 2, 28; 22,16) que aguarda el momento de levantarse en el interior de nuestros corazones.

Direct download: Al_Partir_El_Pan_La_Transfiguracion_del_Senor.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:53am EST

Readings:

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
Psalm 97:1-2, 5-6, 9
2 Peter 1:16-19
Matthew 17:1-9

High on the holy mountain in today's Gospel, the true identity of Jesus is fully revealed in His transfiguration.

Standing between Moses and the prophet Elijah, Jesus is the bridge that joins the Law of Moses to the prophets and psalms (see Luke 24:24-27). As Moses did, Jesus climbs a mountain with three named friends and beholds God's glory in a cloud (see Exodus 24:1,9,15). As Elijah did, He hears God's voice on the mountain (see 1 Kings 19:8-19).

Elijah was prophesied to return as the herald of the messiah and the Lord's new covenant (see Malachi 3:1,23-24). Jesus is revealed today as that messiah. By His death and resurrection, which He intimates today to the apostles, He makes a new covenant with all creation.

The majestic voice declares Jesus to be God's own beloved Son, in whom the Father is well pleased (see Psalm 2:7). God here gives us a glimpse of His inner life. In the cloud of the Holy Spirit, the Father reveals His love for the Son, and invites us to share in that love, as His beloved sons and daughters.

Shadowed by the clouds of heaven, His clothes dazzling white, Jesus is the Son of Man whom Daniel foresees being enthroned in today's First Reading.

He is the king, the Lord of all the earth, as we sing in today's Psalm. But is He truly the Lord of our hearts and minds?

The last word God speaks from heaven today is a command -- "Listen to Him" (see Deuteronomy 18:15-19). The word of the Lord should be like a lamp shining in the darkness of our days, as Peter tells us in today's First Reading.

How well are we listening? Do we attend to His word each day?

Let us today rededicate ourselves to listening. Let us hear Him as the word of life, the bright morning star of divine life waiting to arise in our hearts (see Revelation 2:28; 22:16).

Direct download: Breaking_the_Bread_Transfiguration_Reflection.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 11:46am EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

 

Readings:

Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14-16

Psalm 147:12-15, 19-20

1 Corinthians 10:16-17

John 6:51-58

The Eucharist is given to us as a challenge and a promise. That's how Jesus presents it in today's Gospel.

He doesn't make it easy for those who hear Him. They are repulsed and offended at His words. Even when they begin to quarrel, He insists on describing the eating and drinking of His flesh and blood in starkly literal terms.

Four times in today's reading, Jesus uses a Greek word - trogein - that refers to a crude kind of eating, almost a gnawing or chewing (see John 6:54,56,57,58).

He is testing their faith in His Word, as today's First Reading describes God testing Israel in the desert.

The heavenly manna was not given to satisfy the Israelites' hunger, as Moses explains. It was given to show them that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

In today's Psalm, too, we see a connection between God's Word and the bread of life. We sing of God filling us with "finest wheat" and proclaiming his Word to the world.

In Jesus, "the living Father" has given us His Word come down from heaven, made flesh for the life of the world.

Yet as the Israelites grumbled in the desert, many in today's Gospel cannot accept that Word. Even many of Jesus' own followers abandon Him after this discourse (see John 6:66). But His words are Spirit and life, the words of eternal life (see John 6:63,67).

In the Eucharist we are made one flesh with Christ. We have His life in us and have our life because of Him. This is what Paul means in today's Epistle when He calls the Eucharist a "participation" in Christ's body and blood. We become in this sacrament partakers of the divine nature (see 1 Peter 2:4).

This is the mystery of the faith that Jesus asks us believe. And He gives us His promise: that sharing in His flesh and blood that was raised from the dead, we too will be raised up on the last day.

Direct download: A_Corpus_Christi_2017.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 2:00pm EST

Readings:

Exodus 34:4-6, 8-9

Daniel 3:52-56

2 Corinthians 13:11-13

John 3:16-18

 

We often begin Mass with the prayer from today's Epistle: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you." We praise the God who has revealed himself as a Trinity, a communion of persons.

Communion with the Trinity is the goal of our worship - and the purpose of the salvation history that begins in the Bible and continues in the Eucharist and sacraments of the Church.

We see the beginnings of God's self-revelation in today's First Reading, as He passes before Moses and cries out His holy name.

Israel had sinned in worshipping the golden calf (see Exodus 32). But God does not condemn them to perish. Instead He proclaims His mercy and faithfulness to His covenant.

God loved Israel as His firstborn son among the nations (see Exodus 4:22). Through Israel - heirs of His covenant with Abraham - God planned to reveal himself as the Father of all nations (see Genesis 22:18).

The memory of God's covenant testing of Abraham - and Abraham's faithful obedience - lies behind today's Gospel.

In commanding Abraham to offer his only beloved son (see Genesis 22:2,12,16), God was preparing us for the fullest possible revelation of His love for the world.

As Abraham was willing to offer Isaac, God did not spare His own Son but handed Him over for us all (see Romans 8:32).

In this, He revealed what was only disclosed partially to Moses - that His kindness continues for a thousand generations, that He forgives our sin, and takes us back as His very own people (see Deuteronomy 4:20; 9:29).

Jesus humbled himself to die in obedience to God's will. And for this, the Spirit of God raised Him from the dead (see Romans 8:11), and gave Him a name above every name (see Philippians 2:8-10).

This is the name we glorify in today's Responsorial - the name of our Lord, the God who is Love (see 1 John 4;8,16).

Direct download: A_Trinity_2017.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 2:23pm EST

 

Lecturas:

Éxodo 34, 4-6.8-9

Daniel 3, 52-56

2 Corintios 13, 11-13

Juan 3,16-18

Frecuentemente comenzamos la Misa con la oración tomada de la epístola de hoy: "La gracia de nuestro Señor Jesucristo, el amor del Padre y la comunión del Espíritu Santo estén con ustedes". Alabamos al Dios que se ha revelado a Sí mismo como Trinidad, como comunión de personas.

La comunión con la Trinidad es la meta de nuestra adoración  y el propósito de la historia de la salvación que comienza en la Biblia y continúa en la Eucaristía y en los sacramentos de la Iglesia.

En la primera lectura vemos los inicios de la autorevelación de Dios, cuando pasa frente a Moisés y proclama su nombre santo. Israel había pecado en adorar al becerro de oro (cf. Ex 32). Pero Dios no los condena a perecer, sino que proclama su misericordia y fidelidad a su alianza.

Dios amó a Israel como su primogénito entre las naciones (cf. Ex 4,22). Por medio de Israel -heredero de su alianza con Abraham-, Dios planeó revelarse como el Padre de todas las naciones (cf. Gn 22,18).

El recuerdo de la prueba de alianza que Dios pidió a Abraham -y la obediencia fiel de Abraham- es el trasfondo del Evangelio de este día. Al ordenarle a Abraham que le ofreciera su amado hijo único (cf, Gn 22,2.12.16), Dios nos estaba preparando para la más completa revelación de su amor por el mundo.  Así como Abraham estaba dispuesto a ofrecer a Isaac, Dios no perdonó a su propio Hijo, sino que lo entregó por todos nosotros (cf. Rm 8,32).

Con ello reveló lo que sólo a Moisés fue descubierto parcialmente, que su bondad perdura por mil generaciones, que perdona nuestro pecado y nos toma de vuelta como pueblo de su propiedad (cf. Dt 4,20; 9,29).

Jesús se humilló a sí mismo hasta morir en obediencia a la voluntad de Dios. Y por esto, el Espíritu de Dios lo levantó de la muerte (cf. Rm 8,11) y le dio un nombre que está sobre todo nombre (cf. Fl 2,8-10).

Ese es el nombre que glorificamos en el salmo de hoy: el nombre de nuestro Señor, el Dios que es Amor (cf. 1Jn 4,8.16).

Direct download: A_Trinity_Spn_2017.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:05pm EST

 

 Readings:

Acts 2:1-11

Psalm 104:1,24,29-31,34

1 Corinthians 12:3-7,12-13

John 20:19-23

 

The giving of the Spirit to the new people of God crowns the mighty acts of the Father in salvation history.

The Jewish feast of Pentecost called all devout Jews to Jerusalem to celebrate their birth as God's chosen people, in the covenant Law given to Moses at Sinai (see Leviticus 23:15-21; Deuteronomy 16:9-11).

In today's First Reading the mysteries prefigured in that feast are fulfilled in the pouring out of the Spirit on Mary and the Apostles (see Acts 1:14).

The Spirit seals the new law and new covenant brought by Jesus, written not on stone tablets but on the hearts of believers, as the prophets promised (see 2 Corinthians 3:2-8; Romans 8:2).

The Spirit is revealed as the life-giving breath of the Father, the Wisdom by which He made all things, as we sing in today's Psalm. In the beginning, the Spirit came as a "mighty wind" sweeping over the face of the earth (see Genesis 1:2). And in the new creation of Pentecost, the Spirit again comes as "a strong, driving wind" to renew the face of the earth.

As God fashioned the first man out of dust and filled him with His Spirit (see Genesis 2:7), in today's Gospel we see the New Adam become a life-giving Spirit, breathing new life into the Apostles (see 1 Corinthians 15:45,47).

Like a river of living water, for all ages He will pour out His Spirit on His body, the Church, as we hear in today's Epistle (see also John 7:37-39).

We receive that Spirit in the sacraments, being made a "new creation" in Baptism (see 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15). Drinking of the one Spirit in the Eucharist (see 1 Corinthians 10:4), we are the first fruits of a new humanity - fashioned from out of every nation under heaven, with no distinctions of wealth or language or race, a people born of the Spirit.

Direct download: A_Pentecost_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 11:59am EST

 

 Readings:

Acts 1:12-14

Psalm 27:1, 4, 7-8

1 Peter 4:13-16

John 17:1-11

 

Jesus has been taken up into heaven as we begin today's First Reading. His disciples - including the Apostles and Mary - return to the upper room where He celebrated the Last Supper (see Luke 22:12).

There, they devote themselves with one accord to prayer, awaiting the Spirit that He promised would come upon them (see Acts 1:8).

The unity of the early Church at Jerusalem is a sign of the oneness that Christ prays for in today's Gospel. The Church is to be a communion on earth that mirrors the glorious union of Father, Son and Spirit in the Trinity.

Jesus has proclaimed God's name to His brethren (see Hebrews 2:12; Psalm 22:23). The prophets had foretold this revelation - a new covenant by which all flesh would have knowledge of the Lord (see Jeremiah 31:33-34; Habakkuk 2:14).

By the new covenant made in His blood and remembered in every Eucharist, we know God as our Father. This is the eternal life Jesus promises. And this is the light and salvation we sing of in today's Psalm.

As God made light to shine out of darkness when the world began, He has enlightened us in Baptism, making us new creations (see 2 Corinthians 5:17), giving us knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (see Hebrews 10:32; 2 Corinthians 4:6).

Our new life is a gift of "the Spirit of glory," we hear in today's Epistle (see John 7:38-39). Made one in His name, we are given a new name - "Christians" - a name used only here and in two other places in the Bible (see Acts 11:16; 26:28). We are to glorify God, though we will be insulted and suffer because of this name.

But as we share in His sufferings, we know we will overcome (see Revelation 3:12) and rejoice when His glory is once more revealed. And we will dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of our lives.

Direct download: A_7_Easter_2017.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 2:47pm EST

 

 Readings:

Acts 8:5-8, 14-17

Psalm 66:1-7, 16, 20

1 Peter 3:15-18

John 14:15-21

 

Jesus will not leave us alone. He won't make us children of God in Baptism only to leave us "orphans," He assures us in today's Gospel (see Romans 8:14-17) .

He asks the Father to give us His Spirit, to dwell with us and keep us united in the life He shares with the Father.

We see the promised gift of His Spirit being conferred in today's First Reading.

The scene from Acts apparently depicts a primitive Confirmation rite. Philip, one of the first deacons (see Acts 6:5), proclaims the Gospel in the non-Jewish city of Samaria. The Samaritans accept the Word of God (see Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 2:13) and are baptized.

It remains for the Apostles to send their representatives, Peter and John, to pray and lay hands on the newly baptized - that they might receive the Holy Spirit. This is the origin of our sacrament of Confirmation (see Acts 19:5-6), by which the grace of Baptism is completed and believers are sealed with the Spirit promised by the Lord.

We remain in this grace so long as we love Christ and keep His commandments. And strengthened in the Spirit whom Jesus said would be our Advocate, we are called to bear witness to our salvation - to the tremendous deeds that God has done for us in the name of His Son.

In today's Psalm, we celebrate our liberation. As He changed the sea into dry land to free the captive Israelites, Christ suffered that He might lead us to God, as we hear in today's Epistle.

This is the reason for our hope - the hope that sustains us in the face of a world that cannot accept His truth, the hope that sustains us when we are maligned and defamed for His name's sake.

Put to death in the flesh, He was brought to life in the Spirit, Paul tells us today. And as He himself promises: "Because I live, you will live."

Direct download: Year_A_Easter_6.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 1:57pm EST

 

Readings:

Acts 6:1-7

Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19

1 Peter 2:4-9

John 14:1-12 (see also "Exodus and Easter")

By His death, Resurrection and Ascension, Jesus has gone ahead to prepare a place for us in His Father's house.

His Father's house is no longer a temple made by human hands. It is the spiritual house of the Church, built on the living stone of Christ's body.

As Peter interprets the Scriptures in today's Epistle, Jesus is the "stone" destined to be rejected by men but made the precious cornerstone of God's dwelling on earth (see Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 8:14; 28:16).

Each of us is called to be a living stone in God's building (see 1 Corinthians 3:9,16). In this edifice of the Spirit, we are to be "holy priests" offering up "spiritual sacrifices" - all our prayer, work and intentions - to God.

This is our lofty calling as Christians. This is why Christ led us out of the darkness of sin and death as Moses led the Israelites from bondage in Egypt.

God's covenant with Israel made them a royal and priestly people who were to announce His praises (see Exodus 19:6). By our faith in Christ's new covenant, we have been made heirs of this chosen race, called to glorify the Father in the temple of our bodies (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Romans 12:1).

In today's First Reading, we see the spiritual house of the Church being built up, as the Apostles consecrate seven deacons so they can devote themselves more fully to the "ministry of the Word."

The Lord's Word is upright and all His works trustworthy, we sing in today's Psalm. So we can trust Jesus when He tells us never to be troubled, but to believe that His Word and works come from the Father.

His Word continues its work in the world through the Church. We see its beginnings today in Jerusalem. It is destined to spread with influence and power (see Acts 19:20), and to become the imperishable seed by which every heart is born anew (see 1 Peter 1:23).

Direct download: A_5_Easter17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 2:34pm EST

 

Readings:

Acts 2:14, 36-41

Psalm 23:1-6

1 Peter 2:20-25

John 10:1-10

 

Easter's empty tomb is a call to conversion.

By this tomb, we should know for certain that God has made Jesus both Lord and Messiah, as Peter preaches in today's First Reading.

He is the "Lord," the divine Son that David foresaw at God's right hand (see Psalms 110:1,3; 132:10-11; Acts 2:34). And He is the Messiah that God had promised to shepherd the scattered flock of the house of Israel (see Ezekiel 34:11-14, 23; 37:24).

As we hear in today's Gospel, Jesus is that Good Shepherd, sent to a people who were like sheep without a shepherd (see Mark 6:34; Numbers 27:16-17). He calls not only to the children of Israel, but to all those far off from Him - to whomever the Lord wishes to hear His voice.

The call of the Good Shepherd leads to the restful waters of Baptism, to the anointing oil of Confirmation, and to the table and overflowing cup of the Eucharist, as we sing in today's Psalm.

Again on this Sunday in Easter, we hear His voice calling us His own. He should awaken in us the response of those who heard Peter's preaching. "What are we to do?" they cried.

We have been baptized. But each of us goes astray like sheep, as we hear in today's Epistle. We still need daily to repent, to seek forgiveness of our sins, to separate ourselves further from this corrupt generation.

We are called to follow in the footsteps of the Shepherd of our souls. By His suffering He bore our sins in His body to free us from sin. But His suffering is also an example for us. From Him we should learn patience in our afflictions, to hand ourselves over to the will of God.

Jesus has gone ahead, driven us through the dark valley of evil and death. His Cross has become the narrow gate through which we must pass to reach His empty tomb - the verdant pastures of life abundant.

 

Direct download: A_4_Easter_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 11:15am EST

 

Readings:

Acts 2:14,22-28

Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-11

1 Peter 1:17-21

Luke 24:13-35

We should put ourselves in the shoes of the disciples in today's Gospel. Downcast and confused they're making their way down the road, unable to understand all the things that have occurred.

They know what they've seen - a prophet mighty in word and deed. They know what they were hoping for - that He would be the redeemer of Israel. But they don't know what to make of His violent death at the hands of their rulers.

They can't even recognize Jesus as He draws near to walk with them. He seems like just another foreigner visiting Jerusalem for the Passover.

Note that Jesus doesn't disclose His identity until they they describe how they found His tomb empty but "Him they did not see." That's how it is with us, too. Unless He revealed himself we would see only an empty tomb and a meaningless death.

How does Jesus make himself known at Emmaus? First, He interprets "all the Scriptures" as referring to Him. In today's First Reading and Epistle, Peter also opens the Scriptures to proclaim the meaning of Christ's death according to the Father's "set plan" - foreknown before the foundation of the world.

Jesus is described as a new Moses and a new Passover lamb. He is the One of whom David sang in today's Psalm - whose soul was not abandoned to corruption but was shown the path of life.

After opening the Scriptures, Jesus at table took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to the disciples - exactly what He did at the Last Supper (see Luke 22:14-20).

In every Eucharist, we reenact that Easter Sunday at Emmaus. Jesus reveals himself to us in our journey. He speaks to our hearts in the Scriptures. Then at the table of the altar, in the person of the priest, He breaks the bread.

The disciples begged him, "Stay with us." So He does. Though He has vanished from our sight, in the Eucharist - as at Emmaus - we know Him in the breaking of the bread.

Direct download: A_3_Easter_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

Readings:
Acts 2:42-47
Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
1 Peter 1:3-9
John 20:19-31

We are children of Jesus' Resurrection from the dead. Through this wondrous sign of His great mercy, the Father of Jesus has given us new birth, as we hear in today's Epistle.

Today's First Reading sketches the "family life" of our first ancestors in the household of God (see 1 Peter 4:17). We see them doing what we still do - devoting themselves to the Apostles' teaching, meeting daily to pray and celebrate "the breaking of the bread."

The Apostles saw the Lord. He stood in their midst, showed them His hands and sides. They heard His blessing and received His commission - to extend the Father's mercy to all peoples through the power and Spirit He conferred upon them.

We must walk by faith and not by sight, must believe and love what we have not seen (see 2 Corinthians 5:7). Yet the invisible realities are made present for us through the devotions the Apostles handed on.

Notice the experience of the risen Lord in today's Gospel is described in a way that evokes the Mass.

Both appearances take place on a Sunday. The Lord comes to be with His disciples. They rejoice, listen to His Word, receive the gift of His forgiveness and peace. He offers His wounded body to them in remembrance of His Passion. And they know and worship Him as their Lord and their God.

Thomas' confession is a vow of faith in the new covenant. As promised long before, in the blood of Jesus we can now know the Lord as our God and be known as His people (see Hosea 2:20-25).

This confession is sung in the heavenly liturgy (see Revelation 4:11). And in every Mass on earth we renew our covenant and receive the blessings Jesus promised for those who have not seen but have believed.

In the Mass, God's mercy endures forever, as we sing in today's Psalm. This is the day the Lord has made - when the victory of Easter is again made wonderful in our eyes.

Direct download: A_Divine_Mercy_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 1:49pm EST

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," which 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: A_Easter_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 4:22pm EST

Readings:
Isaiah 50:4-7
Psalm 22:8-9, 17-20, 23-24
Philippians 2:6-11
Matthew 26:14-27:66

"All this has come to pass that the writings of the prophets may be fulfilled," Jesus says in today's Gospel (see Matthew 26:56).

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 Matthew 27:31), as His hands and feet are pierced, as enemies gamble for His clothes (see Matthew 27:35), and as his enemies dare Him to prove His divinity by saving Himself from suffering (see Matthew 27:39-44).

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. We know, as the centurion today, that truly this is the Son of God (see Matthew 27:54).

Direct download: A_Passion_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 1:42pm EST

Readings:
Ezekiel 37:12-14
Psalm 130:1-8
Romans 8:8-11
John 11:1-45

As we draw near to the end of Lent, today's Gospel clearly has Jesus' passion and death in view.

That's why John gives us the detail about Lazarus' sister, Mary - that she is the one who anointed the Lord for burial (see John 12:3,7). His disciples warn against returning to Judea; Thomas even predicts they will "die with Him" if they go back.

When Lazarus is raised, John notices the tombstone being taken away, as well as Lazarus' burial cloths and head covering - all details he later notices with Jesus' empty tomb (see John 20:1,6,7).

Like the blind man in last week's readings, Lazarus represents all humanity. He stands for "dead man" - for all those Jesus loves and wants to liberate from the bands of sin and death.

John even recalls the blind man in his account today (see John 11:37). Like the man's birth in blindness, Lazarus' death is used by Jesus to reveal "the glory of God" (see John 9:3). And again like last week, Jesus' words and deeds give sight to those who believe (see John 11:40).

If we believe, we will see - that Jesus loves each of us as He loved Lazarus, that He calls us out of death and into new life.

By His Resurrection Jesus has fulfilled Ezekiel's promise in today's First Reading. He has opened the graves that we may rise, put His Spirit in us that we may live. This is the Spirit that Paul writes of in today's Epistle. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will give life to we who were once dead in sin.

Faith is the key. If we believe as Martha does in today's Gospel - that Jesus is the resurrection and the life - even if we die, we will live.

"I have promised and I will do it," the Father assures us in the First Reading. We must trust in His word, as we sing in today's Psalm - that with Him is forgiveness and salvation.

Direct download: A_5_Lent_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 2:33pm EST

Readings:
1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13
Psalm 23:1-6
Ephesians 5:8-14
John 9:1-41

God's ways of seeing are not our ways, we hear in today's First Reading. Jesus illustrates this in the Gospel - as the blind man comes to see and the Pharisees are made blind.

The blind man stands for all humanity. "Born totally in sin" he is made a new creation by the saving power of Christ.

As God fashioned the first man from the clay of the earth (see Genesis 2:7), Jesus gives the blind man new life by anointing his eyes with clay (see John 9:11). As God breathed the spirit of life into the first man, the blind man is not healed until he washes in the waters of Siloam, a name that means "Sent."

Jesus is the One "sent" by the Father to do the Father's will (see John 9:4; 12:44). He is the new source of life-giving water - the Holy Spirit who rushes upon us in Baptism (see John 4:10; 7:38-39).

This is the Spirit that rushes upon God's chosen king David in today's First Reading. A shepherd like Moses before him (see Exodus 3:1; Psalm 78:70-71), David is also a sign pointing to the good shepherd and king to come - Jesus (see John 10:11).

The Lord is our shepherd, as we sing in today's Psalm. By his death and Resurrection He has made a path for us through the dark valley of sin and death, leading us to the verdant pastures of the kingdom of life, the Church.

In the restful waters of Baptism He has refreshed our souls. He has anointed our heads with the oil of Confirmation and spread the Eucharistic table before us, filling our cups to overflowing.

With the once-blind man we enter His house to give God the praise, to renew our vow: "I do believe, Lord."

"The Lord looks into the heart," we hear today. Let Him find us, as Paul advises in today's Epistle, living as "children of light" - trying always to learn what is pleasing to our Father.

Direct download: A_4_Lent_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 11:37am EST

Readings:

Exodus 17:3-7

Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9

Romans 5:1-2, 5-8

John 4:5-15,19-26,39-42

 

The Israelites' hearts were hardened by their hardships in the desert.

Though they saw His mighty deeds, in their thirst they grumble and put God to the test in today's First Reading - a crisis point recalled also in today's Psalm.

Jesus is thirsty too in today's Gospel. He thirsts for souls (see John 19:28). He longs to give the Samaritan woman the living waters that well up to eternal life.

These waters couldn't be drawn from the well of Jacob, father of the Israelites and the Samaritans. But Jesus was something greater than Jacob (see Luke 11:31-32).

The Samaritans were Israelites who escaped exile when Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom eight centuries before Christ (see 2 Kings 17:6,24-41). They were despised for intermarrying with non-Israelites and worshipping at Mount Gerazim, not Jerusalem.

But Jesus tells the woman that the "hour" of true worship is coming, when all will worship God in Spirit and truth.

Jesus' "hour" is the "appointed time" that Paul speaks of in today's Epistle. It is the hour when the Rock of our salvation was struck on the Cross. Struck by the soldier's lance, living waters flowed out from our Rock (see John 19:34-37).

These waters are the Holy Spirit (see John 7:38-39), the gift of God (see Hebrews 6:4).

By the living waters the ancient enmities of Samaritans and Jews have been washed away, the dividing wall between Israel and the nations is broken down (see Ephesians 2:12-14,18). Since His hour, all may drink of the Spirit in Baptism (see 1 Corinthians 12:13).

In this Eucharist, the Lord now is in our midst - as He was at the Rock of Horeb and at the well of Jacob.

In the "today" of our Liturgy, He calls us to believe: "I am He," come to pour out the love of God into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. How can we continue to worship as if we don't understand? How can our hearts remain hardened?

 

Direct download: A_3_Lent_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 11:20am EST

Readings:

Genesis 12:1-4

Psalm 33:4-5,18-20, 22

2 Timothy 1:8-10

Matthew 17:1-9

 

Today's Gospel portrays Jesus as a new and greater Moses.

Moses also took three companions up a mountain and on the seventh day was overshadowed by the shining cloud of God's presence. He too spoke with God and his face and clothing were made radiant in the encounter (see Exodus 24,34).

But in today's Lenten Liturgy, the Church wants us to look back past Moses. Indeed, we are asked to contemplate what today's Epistle calls God's "design...from before time began."

With his promises to Abram in today's First Reading, God formed the people through whom He would reveal himself and bestow His blessings on all humanity.

He later elevated these promises to eternal covenants and changed Abram's name to Abraham, promising that he would be father of a host nations (see Genesis 17:5). In remembrance of His covenant with Abraham he raised up Moses (see Exodus 2:24; 3:8), and later swore an everlasting kingdom to David 's sons (see Jeremiah 33:26).

In Jesus' transfiguration today, He is revealed as the One through whom God fulfills his divine plan from of old.

Not only a new Moses, Jesus is also the "beloved son" promised to Abraham and again to David (see Genesis 22:15-18; Psalm 2:7; Matthew 1:1).

Moses foretold a prophet like him to whom Israel would listen (see Deuteronomy 18:15,18) and Isaiah foretold an anointed servant in whom God would be well-pleased (see Isaiah 42:1). Jesus is this prophet and this servant, as the Voice on the mountain tells us today.

By faith we have been made children of the covenant with Abraham (see Galatians 3:7-9; Acts 3:25). He calls us, too, to a holy life, to follow His Son to the heavenly homeland He has promised. We know, as we sing in today's Psalm, that we who hope in Him will be delivered from death.

So like our father in faith, we go forth as the Lord directs us: "Listen to Him!"

Direct download: A_2_Lent_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 10:14am EST

 

Readings:

Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7

Psalm 51:3-6; 12-14,17

Romans 5:12-19

Matthew 4:1-11 

In today's Liturgy, the destiny of the human race is told as the tale of two "types" of men - the first man, Adam, and the new Adam, Jesus (see 1 Corinthians 15:21-22; 45-59).

Paul's argument in the Epistle is built on a series of contrasts between "one" or "one person" and "the many" or "all." By one person's disobedience, sin and condemnation entered the world, and death came to reign over all. By the obedience of another one, grace abounded, all were justified, and life came to reign for all.

This is the drama that unfolds in today's First Reading and Gospel.

Formed from the clay of the ground and filled with the breath of God's own Spirit, Adam was a son of God (see Luke 3:38), created in his image (see Genesis 5:1-3). Crowned with glory, he was given dominion over the world and the protection of His angels (see Psalms 8:6-8; 91:11-13). He was made to worship God - to live not by bread alone but in obedience to every word that comes from the mouth of the Father.

Adam, however, put the Lord his God to the test. He gave in to the serpent's temptation, trying to seize for himself all that God had already promised him. But in his hour of temptation, Jesus prevailed where Adam failed - and drove the devil away.

Still we sin after the pattern of Adam's transgression. Like Adam, we let sin in the door (see Genesis 4:7) when we entertain doubts about God's promises, when we forget to call on Him in our hours of temptation.

But the grace won for us by Christ's obedience means that sin is no longer our master.

As we begin this season of repentance, we can be confident in His compassion, that He will create in us a new heart (see Romans 5:5; Hebrews 8:10). As we do in today's Psalm, we can sing joyfully of our salvation, renewed in His presence.

Direct download: A_1_Lent_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 1:50pm EST

 

Isaiah 49:14–15

Psalm 62:2–3, 6–9

1 Corinthians 4:1–5

Matthew 6:24–24

 

We are by nature prone to be anxious and troubled about many things.

In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus confronts us with our most common fears. We are anxious mostly about how we will meet our material needs—for food and drink; for clothing; for security for tomorrow.

Yet in seeking security and comfort, we may unwittingly be handing ourselves over to servitude to “mammon,” Jesus warns. “Mammon” is an Aramaic word that refers to money or possessions.

Jesus is not condemning wealth. Nor is he saying that we shouldn’t work to earn our daily bread or to make provisions for our future.

It is a question of priorities and goals. What are we living for? Where is God in our lives?

Jesus insists that we need only to have faith in God and to trust in his Providence.

The readings this Sunday pose a challenge to us. Do we really believe that God cares for us, that he alone can provide for all our needs?

Do we believe that he loves us more than a mother loves the infant at her breast, as God himself promises in this week’s beautiful First Reading? Do we really trust that he is our rock and salvation, as we sing in the Psalm?

Jesus calls us to an intense realism about our lives. For all our worrying, none of us change the span of our days. None of us has anything that we have not received as a gift from God (see 1 Cor. 4:7).

St. Paul reminds us in the Epistle that when the Lord comes he will disclose the purposes of every heart.

We cannot serve both God and mammon. We must choose one or the other. Our faith cannot be partial. We must put our confidence in him and not be shaken by anxiety.

Let us resolve today to seek his Kingdom and his holiness before all else—confident that we are beloved sons and daughters, and that our Father in heaven will never forsake us.

Direct download: A_8_Ordinary_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 10:13am EST

 

 Leviticus 19:1–2, 17–18

Psalm 103:1–4, 8, 10, 12–13

1 Corinthians 3:16–23

Matthew 5:38–48

We are called to the holiness of God. That is the extraordinary claim made in both the First Reading and Gospel this Sunday.

Yet how is possible that we can be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect?

Jesus explains that we must be imitators of God as his beloved children (Eph. 5:1–2).

As God does, we must love without limit—with a love that does not distinguish between friend and foe, overcoming evil with good (see Rom. 12:21).

Jesus himself, in his Passion and death, gave us the perfect example of the love that we are called to.

He offered no resistance to the evil—even though he could have commanded twelve legions of angels to fight alongside him. He offered his face to be struck and spit upon. He allowed his garments to be stripped from him. He marched as his enemies compelled him to the Place of the Skull. On the cross he prayed for those who persecuted him (see Matt. 26:53–54, 67; 27:28, 32; Luke 23:34).

In all this he showed himself to be the perfect Son of God. By his grace, and through our imitation of him, he promises that we too can become children of our heavenly Father.

God does not deal with us as we deserve, as we sing in this week’s Psalm. He loves us with a Father’s love. He saves us from ruin. He forgives our transgressions.

He loved us even when we had made ourselves his enemies through our sinfulness. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (see Rom. 5:8).

We have been bought with the price of the blood of God’s only Son (see 1 Cor. 6:20). We belong to Christ now, as St. Paul says in this week’s Epistle. By our baptism, we have been made temples of his Holy Spirit.

And we have been saved to share in his holiness and perfection. So let us glorify him by our lives lived in his service, loving as he loves.

Direct download: A_7_Ordinary_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 9:56am EST

 

Sirach 15:15–20

Psalm 119:1–2, 4–5, 17–18, 33–34

1 Corinthians 2:6–10

Matthew 5:17–37

Jesus tells us in the Gospel this week that he has come not to abolish but to “fulfill” the Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets.

His Gospel reveals the deeper meaning and purpose of the Ten Commandments and the moral Law of the Old Testament. But his Gospel also transcends the Law. He demands a morality far greater than that accomplished by the most pious of Jews, the scribes and Pharisees.

Outward observance of the Law is not enough. It is not enough that we do not murder, commit adultery, divorce, or lie.

The law of the new covenant is a law that God writes on the heart (see Jer. 31:31–34). The heart is the seat of our motivations, the place from which our words and actions proceed (see Matt. 6:21; 15:18–20).

Jesus this week calls us to train our hearts, to master our passions and emotions. And Jesus demands the full obedience of our hearts (see Rom. 6:17). He calls us to love God with all our hearts, and to do his will from the heart (see Matt. 22:37; Eph. 6:6)

God never asks more of us than we are capable. That is the message of this week’s First Reading. It is up to us to choose life over death, to choose the waters of eternal life over the fires of ungodliness and sin.

By his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus has shown us that it is possible to keep his commandments. In baptism, he has given us his Spirit that his Law might be fulfilled in us (Rom. 8:4).

The wisdom of the Gospel surpasses all the wisdom of this age that is passing away, St. Paul tells us in the Epistle. The revelation of this wisdom fulfills God’s plan from before all ages.

Let us trust in this wisdom, and live by his Kingdom law.

As we do in this week’s Psalm, let us pray that we grow in being better able to live his Gospel, and to seek the Father with all our heart.

 

Direct download: A_6_Ordinary_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 11:46am EST

 

Isaiah 58:7-10

Psalm 112:4-9

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Matthew 5:13-16

 

Jesus came among us as light to scatter the darkness of a fallen world.

As his disciples, we too are called to be “the light of the world,” he tells us in the Gospel this Sunday (see John 1:4–4, 9; 8:12; 9:5).

All three images that Jesus uses to describe the Church are associated with the identity and vocation of Israel.

God forever aligned his Kingdom with the Kingdom of David and his sons by a “covenant of salt,” salt being a sign of permanence and purity (see 2 Chron. 13:5, 8; Lev. 2:13; Ezek. 43:24).

Jerusalem was to be a city set on a hill, high above all others, drawing all nations towards the glorious light streaming from her Temple (see Isa. 2:2; 60:1–3).

And Israel was given the mission of being a light to the nations, that God’s salvation would reach to the ends of the earth (see Isa. 42:6; 49:6).

The liturgy shows us this week that the Church, and every Christian, is called to fulfill Israel’s mission.

By our faith and good works we are to make the light of God’s life break forth in the darkness, as we sing in this week’s Psalm.

This week’s readings remind us that our faith can never be a private affair, something we can hide as if under a basket.

We are to pour ourselves out for the afflicted, as Isaiah tells us in the First Reading. Our light must shine as a ray of God’s mercy for all who are poor, hungry, naked, and enslaved.

There must be a transparent quality to our lives. Our friends and family, our neighbors and fellow citizens, should see reflected in us the light of Christ and through us be attracted to the saving truths of the Gospel.

So let us pray that we, like St. Paul in the Epistle, might proclaim with our whole lives, “Christ and him crucified.”

Direct download: A_5_Ordinary_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 10:23am EST

 

Readings:

Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13

Psalm 146:6-10

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Matthew 5:1-12

In the readings since Christmas, Jesus has been revealed as the new royal son of David and Son of God. He is sent to lead a new exodus that brings Israel out of captivity to the nations and brings all the nations to God.

As Moses led Israel from Egypt through the sea to give them God's law on Mount Sinai, Jesus too has passed through the waters in baptism. Now, in today's Gospel, He goes to the mountain to proclaim a new law—the law of His Kingdom.

The Beatitudes mark the fulfillment of God's covenant promise to Abraham—that through his descendants all the nations of the world would receive God's blessings (see Genesis 12:3; 22:18).

Jesus is the son of Abraham (see Matthew 1:1). And through the wisdom He speaks today, He bestows the Father's blessings upon "the poor in spirit."

God has chosen to bless the weak and lowly, those foolish and despised in the eyes of the world, Paul says in today's Epistle. The poor in spirit are those who know that nothing they do can merit God's mercy and grace. These are the humble remnant in today's First Reading—taught to seek refuge in the name of the Lord.

The Beatitudes reveal the divine path and purpose for our lives. All our striving should be for these virtues—to be poor in spirit; meek and clean of heart; merciful and makers of peace; seekers of the righteousness that comes from living by the law of Kingdom.

The path the Lord sets before us today is one of trials and persecution. But He promises comfort in our mourning and a great reward.

The Kingdom we have inherited is no earthly territory, but the promised land of heaven. It is Zion where the Lord reigns forever. And, as we sing in today's Psalm, its blessings are for those whose hope is in the Lord.

Direct download: A_4_Ordinary_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 10:30am EST

 

Readings:

Isaiah 49:3,5-6

Psalm 40:2,4,7-10

1 Corinthians 1:1-3

John 1:29-34

 

Jesus speaks through the prophet Isaiah in today's First Reading.

He tells us of the mission given to Him by the Father from the womb: "'You are My servant,' He said to Me."

Servant and Son, our Lord was sent to lead a new exodus - to raise up the exiled tribes of Israel, to gather and restore them to God. More than that, He was to be a light to the nations, that God's salvation may reach to the ends of the earth (see Acts 13:46-47). 

Before the first exodus, a lamb was offered in sacrifice and its blood painted on the Israelites' door posts. The blood of the lamb identified their homes and the Lord "passed over" these in executing judgment on the Egyptians (see Exodus 12:1-23,27).

In the new exodus, Jesus is the "Lamb of God," as John beholds Him in the Gospel today (see 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Our Lord sings of this in today's Psalm. He has come, He says, to offer His body to do the will of God (see Hebrews 10:3-13).

The sacrifices, oblations, holocausts, and sin-offerings given after the first exodus had no power to take away sins (see Hebrews 10:4). They were meant not to save but to teach (see Galatians 3:24). In offering these sacrifices, the people were to learn self-sacrifice - that they were made for worship, to offer themselves freely to God and to delight in His will.

Only Jesus could make that perfect offering of himself. And through His sacrifice, He has given us ears open to obedience, made it possible for us to hear the Father's call to holiness, as Paul says in today's Epistle.

He has made us children of God, baptized in the blood of the Lamb (see Revelation 7:14). And we are to join our sacrifice to His, to offer our bodies - our lives - as living sacrifices in the spiritual worship of the Mass (see Romans 12:1).

Direct download: A_3_Ordinary_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 1:55pm EST

 

 

Readings:

Isaiah 49:3,5-6

Psalm 40:2,4,7-10

1 Corinthians 1:1-3

John 1:29-34

 

Jesus speaks through the prophet Isaiah in today's First Reading.

He tells us of the mission given to Him by the Father from the womb: "'You are My servant,' He said to Me."

Servant and Son, our Lord was sent to lead a new exodus - to raise up the exiled tribes of Israel, to gather and restore them to God. More than that, He was to be a light to the nations, that God's salvation may reach to the ends of the earth (see Acts 13:46-47).

Before the first exodus, a lamb was offered in sacrifice and its blood painted on the Israelites' door posts. The blood of the lamb identified their homes and the Lord "passed over" these in executing judgment on the Egyptians (see Exodus 12:1-23,27).

In the new exodus, Jesus is the "Lamb of God," as John beholds Him in the Gospel today (see 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Our Lord sings of this in today's Psalm. He has come, He says, to offer His body to do the will of God (see Hebrews 10:3-13).

The sacrifices, oblations, holocausts, and sin-offerings given after the first exodus had no power to take away sins (see Hebrews 10:4). They were meant not to save but to teach (see Galatians 3:24). In offering these sacrifices, the people were to learn self-sacrifice - that they were made for worship, to offer themselves freely to God and to delight in His will.

Only Jesus could make that perfect offering of himself. And through His sacrifice, He has given us ears open to obedience, made it possible for us to hear the Father's call to holiness, as Paul says in today's Epistle.

He has made us children of God, baptized in the blood of the Lamb (see Revelation 7:14). And we are to join our sacrifice to His, to offer our bodies - our lives - as living sacrifices in the spiritual worship of the Mass (see Romans 12:1).

Direct download: A_2_Ordinary_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 10:03am EST

 

 Readings:

Isaiah 60:1-6

Psalm 72:-12,7-8, 10-13

Ephesians 3:2-3,5-6

Matthew 2:1-12

 

An "epiphany" is an appearance. In today's readings, with their rising stars, splendorous lights and mysteries revealed, the face of the child born on Christmas day appears.

Herod, in today's Gospel, asks the chief priests and scribes where the Messiah is to be born. The answer Matthew puts on their lips says much more, combining two strands of Old Testament promise - one revealing the Messiah to be from the line of David (see 2 Samuel 2:5), the other predicting "a ruler of Israel" who will "shepherd his flock" and whose "greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth" (see Micah 5:1-3).

Those promises of Israel's king ruling the nations resound also in today's Psalm. The psalm celebrates David's son, Solomon. His kingdom, we sing, will stretch "to the ends of the earth," and the world's kings will pay Him homage. That's the scene too in today's First Reading, as nations stream from the East, bearing "gold and frankincense" for Israel's king.

The Magi's pilgrimage in today's Gospel marks the fulfillment of God's promises. The Magi, probably Persian astrologers, are following the star that Balaam predicted would rise along with the ruler's staff over the house of Jacob (see Numbers 24:17).

Laden with gold and spices, their journey evokes those made to Solomon by the Queen of Sheba and the "kings of the earth" (see 1 Kings 10:2,25; 2 Chronicles 9:24). Interestingly, the only other places where frankincense and myrrh are mentioned together are in songs about Solomon (see Song of Songs 3:6, 4:6,14).

One greater than Solomon is here (see Luke 11:31). He has come to reveal that all peoples are "co-heirs" of the royal family of Israel, as today's Epistle teaches.

His manifestation forces us to choose: Will we follow the signs that lead to Him as the wise Magi did? Or will we be like those priests and the scribes who let God's words of promise become dead letters on an ancient page?

Direct download: A_Epiphany_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 9:48am EST

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