St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

Readings:

Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48

Psalm 98:1-4

1 John 4:7-10

John 15:9-17

 God is love, and He revealed that love in sending His only Son to be a sacrificial offering for our sins.

 In these words from today’s Epistle, we should hear an echo of the story of Abraham’s offering of Isaac at the dawn of salvation history. Because Abraham obeyed God’s command and did not with-hold his only beloved son, God promised that Abraham’s descendants, the children of Israel, would be the source of blessing for all nations (see Genesis 22:16-18).

We see that promise coming to fulfillment in today’s First Reading. God pours out His Spirit upon the Gentiles, the non-Israelites, as they listen to the word of Peter’s preaching. Notice they receive the same gifts received by the devout Jews who heard Peter’s preaching at Pentecost—the Spirit comes to rest upon them and they speak in tongues, glorifying God (see Acts 2:5-11).

 In his love today, God reveals that His salvation embraces the house of Israel and peoples of all nations. Not by circumcision or blood relation to Abraham, but by faith in the Word of Christ, sealed in the sacrament of baptism, peoples are to be made children of Abraham, heirs to God’s covenants of promise (see Galatians 3:7-9; Ephesians 2:12).

 This is the wondrous work of God that we sing of in today’s Psalm. It is the work of the Church, the good fruit that Jesus chooses and appoints His apostles for in today’s Gospel.

 As Peter raises up Cornelius today, the Church continues to lift all eyes to Christ, the only one in whose name they can find salvation.

 In the Church, each of us has been begotten by the love of God. But the Scriptures today reveal that this divine gift brings with it a command and a duty. We are to love one another as we have been loved. We are to lay down our lives in giving ourselves to others—that they too might find friendship with Christ, and new life through Him    

Direct download: B_6_Easter.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Readings:

Acts 9:26-31

Psalm 22:26-28, 30-321

John 3:18-24

John 15:1-8

 In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that He is the true vine that God intended Israel to be—the source of divine life and wisdom for the nations (see Sirach 24:17-24).

 In baptism, each of us was joined to Him by the Holy Spirit. As a branch grows from a tree, our souls are to draw life from Him, nourished by His word and the Eucharist.

 Paul in today’s First Reading seeks to be grafted onto the visible expression of Christ the true vine—His Church. Once the chief persecutor of the Church, he encounters initial resistance and suspicion. But he is known by his fruits, by his powerful witness to the Lord working in his life (see Matthew 7:16-20).

 We too are commanded today to bear good fruits as His disciples, so that our lives give glory to God. Like Paul’s life, our lives must bear witness to His goodness.

 Jesus cautions us, however, that if we’re bearing fruit, we can expect that God will ‘prune’ us—as a gardener trims and cuts back a plant so that it will grow stronger and bear even more fruit. He is teaching us today how to look at our sufferings and trials with the eyes of faith. We need to see our struggles as pruning, by which we are being disciplined and trained so that we can grow in holiness and bear fruits of righteousness (see Hebrews 12:4-11).

 We need to always remain rooted in Him, as today’s Epistle tells us. We remain in Him by keeping His commandment of love, by pondering His words, letting them dwell richly in us (see Colossians 3:16), and by always seeking to do what pleases Him. In everything we must be guided by humility, remembering that apart from Him we can do nothing.

 As we sing in today’s Psalm, we must fulfill our vows, turning to the Lord in worship, proclaiming his praises, until all families come to know His justice in their lives.    

Direct download: B_5_Easter.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Readings:

Acts 4:8-12

Psalm 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 29

1 John 3:1-2

John 10:11-18

 Jesus, in today’s Gospel, says that He is the good shepherd the prophets had promised to Israel.

 He is the shepherd-prince, the new David--who frees people from bondage to sin and gathers them into one flock, the Church, under a new covenant, made in His blood (see Ezekiel 34:10-13, 23-31).

 His flock includes other sheep, He says, far more than the dispersed children of Israel (see Isaiah 56:8; John 11:52). And He gave His Church the mission of shepherding all peoples to the Father.

 In today’s First Reading, we see the beginnings of that mission in the testimony of Peter, whom the Lord appointed shepherd of His Church (see John 21:15-17).

 Peter tells Israel’s leaders that the Psalm we sing today is a prophecy of their rejection and crucifixion of Christ. He tells the “builders” of Israel’s temple, that God has made the stone they rejected the cornerstone of a new spiritual temple, the Church (see Mark 12:10-13; 1 Peter 2:4-7).

 Through the ministry of the Church, the shepherd still speaks (see Luke 10:16),and forgives sins (see John 20:23), and makes His body and blood present, that all may know Him in the breaking of the bread (see Luke 24:35). It is a mission that will continue until all the world is one flock under the one shepherd.

 In laying down His life and taking it up again, Jesus made it possible for us to know God as He did--as sons and daughters of the Father who loves us. As we hear in today’s Epistle, He calls us His children, as He called Israel His son when He led them out of Egypt and made His covenant with them (see Exodus 4:22-23; Revelation 21:7).

 Today, let us listen for His voice as He speaks to us in the Scriptures, and vow again to be more faithful followers. And let us give thanks for the blessings He bestows from His altar.

Direct download: B_4_Easter.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Readings: 

Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
Psalms 4:2, 4, 7-9
1 John 2:1-5
Luke 24:35-48

Jesus in today's Gospel, teaches His apostles how to interpret the Scriptures.

He tells them that all the Scriptures of what we now call the Old Testament refer to Him. He says that all the promises found in the Old Testament have been fulfilled in His passion, death, and resurrection. And He tells them that these Scriptures foretell the mission of the Church - to preach forgiveness of sins to all the nations, beginning at Jersusalem.

In today's First Reading and Epistle, we see the beginnings of that mission. And we see the apostles interpreting the Scriptures as Jesus taught them to.

God has brought to fulfillment what He announced beforehand in all the prophets, Peter preaches. His sermon is shot through with Old Testament images. He evokes Moses and the exodus, in which God revealed himself as the ancestral God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (see Exodus 3:6,15). He identifies Jesus as Isaiah's suffering servant who has been glorified (see Isaiah 52:13).

John, too describes Jesus in Old Testament terms. Alluding to how Israel's priests offered blood sacrifices to atone for the people's sins (see Leviticus 16; Hebrews 9-10), he says that Jesus intercedes for us before God (see Romans 8:34), and that His blood is a sacrificial expiation for the sins of the world (see 1 John 1:7).

Notice that in all three readings, the Scriptures are interpreted to serve and advance the Church's mission - to reveal the truth about Jesus, to bring people to repentance, the wiping away of sins, and the perfection of their love for God.

This is how we, too, should hear the Scriptures. Not to know more "about" Jesus, but to truly know Him personally, and to know His plan for our lives.

In the Scriptures, the light of His face shines upon us, as we sing in today's Psalm. We know the wonders He has done throughout history. And we have the confidence to call to Him, and to know that He hears and answers.
    

Direct download: B_3_Easter.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Lecturas:
Hechos 3,13-15, 17-19
Salmo 4,2, 4, 7-9
1 Juan 2, 1-5
Lucas 24, 35-48

En el evangelio de hoy, Jesús les enseña a los discípulos cómo interpretar los textos sagrados.

Les comenta que todas las Escrituras lo que hoy nosotros llamamos el Antiguo Testamento se refieren a Él. Les dice que todas las promesas ahí contenidas se han cumplido en su pasión, muerte y resurrección. Y les afirma que estas Escrituras profetizan la misión de la Iglesia – el predicar el perdón de los pecados a todos los pueblos, empezando en Jerusalén.

En la primera y segunda lectura de este día, vemos el inicio de esta misión. Y a los apóstoles interpretando las Escrituras como les enseñó Jesús.

San Pedro en su predicación dice que Dios ha llevado a su cumplimiento lo que había anunciado antes por medio de los profetas. Su discurso está lleno de imágenes del Antiguo Testamento. Evoca a Moisés y al éxodo, en el que Dios se reveló a sí mismo como el Antiguo Dios de Abrahán, de Isaac y de Jacob (véase Éxodo 3,6, 15). Identifica a Jesús como el siervo sufriente de Isaías que has sido glorificado (véase Isaías 2,13).

También Juan ocupa imágenes del Antiguo Testamento para describir a Jesús. Haciendo alusión a los sacrificios de sangre que ofrecieron los sacerdotes de Israel en expiación por los pecados del pueblo, (véase Levítico 16, Hebreos 9-10), dice que Jesús intercede por nosotros ante Dios (véase Romanos 8,34) y que su sangre es un sacrificio de expiación por los pecados del mundo (véase 1 Juan 1,17).

Es notable que las tres lecturas, las Escrituras son interpretadas para servir a la misión de la Iglesia- de revelar la verdad sobre Jesús, llevar al pueblo al arrepentimiento, borrar los pecados, y perfeccionar su amor a Dios.

Así es como nosotros deberíamos escuchar las Escrituras. No solo para conocer más sobre Jesús, sino para experimentarlo personalmente y descubrir el plan que tiene para nuestras vidas.

En la Biblia, la luz de su rostro brilla sobre nosotros, como cantamos en el salmo de hoy. Conocemos las maravillas que ha hecho en la historia. Por eso tenemos la confianza de acudir a Él, sabiendo que nos escucha y nos responde.

Direct download: B_3_Easter_Spn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Readings: 

Acts 4:32-35
Psalms 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
1 John 5:1-6
John 20:19-31

Three times in today's Psalm we cry out a victory shout: "His mercy endures forever."

Truly we've known the everlasting love of God, who has come to us as our Savior. By the blood and water that flowed from Jesus' pierced side (see John 19:34), we've been made God's children, as we hear in today's Epistle.

Yet we never met Jesus, never heard Him teach, never saw Him raised from the dead. His saving Word came to us in the Church - through the ministry of the apostles, who in today's Gospel are sent as He was sent.

He was made a life-giving Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 15:45) and He filled His apostles with that Spirit. As we hear in today's First Reading, they bore witness to His resurrection with great power. And through their witness, handed down in the Church through the centuries, their teaching and traditions have reached us (see Acts 2:42).

We encounter Him as the apostles did - in the breaking of the bread on the Lord's day (see Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Revelation 1:10).

There is something liturgical about the way today's Gospel scenes unfold. It's as if John is trying to show us how the risen Lord comes to us in the liturgy and sacraments.

In both scenes it is Sunday night. The doors are bolted tight, yet Jesus mysteriously comes. He greets them with an expression, "Peace be with you," used elsewhere by divine messengers (see Daniel 10:19; Judges 6:23). He shows them signs of His real bodily presence. And on both nights the disciples respond by joyfully receiving Jesus as their "Lord."

Isn't this what happens in the Mass - where our Lord speaks to us in His Word, and gives himself to us in the sacrament of His body and blood?

Let us approach the altar with joy, knowing that every Eucharist is the day the Lord has made - when the victory of Easter is again made wonderful in our eyes. 

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

Lecturas:
Hechos 4, 32-35
Salmo 118, 2-4, 13-15, 22-24
1 Juan 5, 1-6
Juan 20, 19-31

Tres veces en el Salmo de hoy gritamos victoriosos, “La misericordia de Dios es eterna.” En verdad hemos conocido el amor eterno de Dios, quien ha venido a nosotros como Salvador. Por la sangre y agua que fluyeron de su costado traspasado (véase Juan 19,34), hemos sido hechos hijos e hijas de Dios, como lo dice la epístola de hoy.

Pero nunca conocimos a Jesús en persona, ni lo escuchamos predicar, ni lo vimos resucitar de entre los muertos. Su palabra de salvación vino a nosotros en la Iglesia- por medio del ministerio de los apóstoles, quienes en el evangelio de hoy son enviados así como Él fue enviado.

Él fue un Espíritu que da vida (véase 1 Corintios 15,45) y llena a sus apóstoles de ese Espíritu. Como escuchamos en la primera lectura de hoy, ellos dieron testimonio de su resurrección con gran poder. Por medio de su testimonio, transmitido a la Iglesia a través de los siglos, sus enseñanzas y tradiciones llegan a nosotros (véase Hechos 2,42).

Encontramos al Señor así como los apóstoles lo encontraron- al partir el pan en el día del Señor (véase Hechos 20,7; 1 Corintios 16,2; Apocalipsis 1,10).

Hay algo litúrgico de la manera en que los acontecimientos del evangelio de hoy se desenvuelven. Es como si Juan nos estuviese demostrando como es que el Señor resucitado viene a nosotros en la liturgia y los sacramentos. Ambas escenas ocurren en un domingo al atardecer. Las puertas están cerradas con seguro pero aun así, Jesús entra misteriosamente. Los saluda, “La paz esté con ustedes,” siendo el saludo de todo mensajero divino (véase Daniel 10,19; Jueces 6,23). Les demuestra pruebas de su presencia física. Y en ambas noches los discípulos responden con alegría al recibir a Jesús como su “Señor”.

Acaso ¿no es esto lo que sucede en cada Misa---donde Nuestro Señor nos habla con su Palabra y nos da a sí mismo en el sacramento de su cuerpo y sangre?

Acerquémonos pues al altar con alegría, sabiendo que cada Eucaristía es el día que Dios ha hecho—cuando la victoria de la Pascua es una maravilla para nuestros ojos.

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

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