St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

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.

Direct download: B_1_Advent_Spn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:50pm EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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.

Direct download: Breaking_the_Bread_33rd_Sunday_Reflection.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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.

Direct download: A_33_Ordinary_Spn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Breaking_the_Bread_32nd_Sunday_Reflection.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT