St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

Readings:
Isaiah 2:1–5
Psalm 122:1–9
Romans 13:11–14
Matthew 24:37–44


Jesus exaggerates in today’s Gospel when He claims not to know the day or the hour when He will come again.

He occasionally makes such overstatements to drive home a point we might otherwise miss (see Matthew 5:34; 23:9; Luke 14:26).

His point here is that the exact “hour” is not important. What is crucial is that we not postpone our repentance, that we be ready for Him—spiritually and morally—when He comes. For He will surely come, He tells us—like a thief in the night, like the flood in the time of Noah.

In today’s Epistle, Paul too compares the present age to a time of advancing darkness and night.

Though we sit in the darkness, overshadowed by death, we have seen arise the great light of our Lord who has come into our midst (see Matthew 4:16; John 1:9; 8:12). He is the true light, the life of the world. And His light continues to shine in His Church, the new Jerusalem promised by Isaiah in today’s First Reading.

In the Church, all nations stream to the God of Jacob, to worship and seek wisdom in the House of David. From the Church goes forth His word of instruction, the light of the Lord—that all might walk in His paths toward that eternal day when night will be no more (see Revelation 22:5).

By our Baptism we have been made children of the light and day (see Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5–7). It is time we start living like it—throwing off the fruitless works of darkness, the desires of the flesh, and walking by the light of His grace.

The hour is late as we begin a new Advent. Let us begin again in this Eucharist.

As we sing in today’s Psalm, let us go rejoicing to the House of the Lord. Let us give thanks to His name, keeping watch for His coming, knowing that our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.

Direct download: A_Advent_1_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Lecturas:
Isaías 2,1–5
Salmo 122,1–9
Romanos 13,11–14
Mateo 24,37–44


En el Evangelio de hoy, Jesús exagera cuando dice que no conoce el día o la hora en que vendrá de nuevo.

En ciertas ocasiones, Él hace esas exageraciones para tocar un punto que de otra manera podríamos pasar por alto (cf. Mt 5,32; 23,9; Lc 14,26).

Su punto acá es que la “hora” exacta no es importante. Lo crucial es que no dejemos nuestro arrepentimiento para después, que estemos preparados – espiritual y moralmente – para cuando Él venga. Pues de seguro llegará, según nos dice, como ladrón en la noche, como el diluvio en tiempos de Noé.

También San Pablo, en su epístola de hoy, compara la época actual con un tiempo de tinieblas y noche avanzada.

Aunque estamos en la oscuridad, en sombras de muerte, hemos visto levantarse la gran luz de nuestro Señor, que ha venido en medio de nosotros (cf. Mt 4,16; Jn 1,9; 8,12). Él es la luz verdadera, la vida del mundo. Y su luz sigue brillando en su Iglesia, la nueva Jerusalén prometida por Isaías en la primera lectura de hoy.

En la Iglesia, todas las naciones acuden al Dios de Jacob; a adorar y buscar sabiduría en la Casa de David. De la Iglesia proviene la luz del Señor, su palabra instructora para que todos puedan andar Sus caminos hacia el día eterno en que la noche dejará de existir (cf. Ap 22,5).

Por nuestro Bautismo hemos sido constituidos hijos de la luz y del día (cf. Ef 5,8; 1 Ts 5,5–7). Es tiempo de que comencemos a vivir de acuerdo a ello, apartando las estériles obras de las tinieblas y los deseos de la carne, caminando por la luz de Su gracia.

La hora es avanzada al comenzar un nuevo Adviento. Comencemos de nuevo en esta Eucaristía.

Como cantamos en el salmo de hoy, vayamos con alegría a la casa del Señor. Demos gracias a su Nombre, vigilando su venida, sabedores de que nuestra salvación está más cerca ahora que cuando creímos por primera vez.

Direct download: A_1_Advent_Spn_17.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Readings:
2 Samuel 5:1–3
Psalm 122:1–5
Colossians 1:12–20
Luke 23:35–43


Week by week the Liturgy has been preparing us for the revelation to be made on this, the last Sunday of the Church year.

Jesus, we have been shown, is truly the Chosen One, the Messiah of God, the King of the Jews. Ironically, in today’s Gospel we hear these names on the lips of those who don’t believe in Him—Israel’s rulers, the soldiers, and a criminal dying alongside Him.

They can only see the scandal of a bloodied figure nailed to a cross. They scorn Him in words and gestures foretold in Israel’s Scriptures (see Psalm 22:7–9; 69:21–22; Wisdom 2:18–20). If He is truly King, God will rescue Him, they taunt. But He did not come to save Himself, but to save them—and us.

The good thief shows us how we are to accept the salvation He offers us. He confesses his sins, acknowledges he deserves to die for them. And He calls on the name of Jesus, seeking His mercy and forgiveness.

By his faith he is saved. Jesus “remembers” him—as God has always remembered His people, visiting them with His saving deeds, numbering them among His chosen heirs (see Psalm 106:4–5).

By the blood of His cross, Jesus reveals His Kingship—not by saving His life, but by offering it as a ransom for ours. He transfers us to “the Kingdom of His beloved Son,” as today’s Epistle tells us.

His Kingdom is the Church, the new Jerusalem and House of David that we sing of in today’s Psalm.

By their covenant with David in today’s First Reading, Israel’s tribes are made one “bone and flesh” with their king. By the new covenant made in His blood, Christ becomes one flesh with the people of His Kingdom—the head of His body, the Church (see Ephesians 5:23–32).

We celebrate and renew this covenant in every Eucharist, giving thanks for our redemption, hoping for the day when we too will be with Him in Paradise.

Direct download: C_Christ_King_16.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Readings:
Malachi 3:19–20
Psalm 98:5–9
2 Thessalonians 3:7–12
Luke 21:5–19


It is the age between our Lord’s first coming and His last. We live in the new world begun by His life, death, Resurrection, and Ascension, by the sending of His Spirit upon the Church. But we await the day when He will come again in glory.

“Lo, the day is coming,” Malachi warns in today’s First Reading. The prophets taught Israel to look for the Day of the Lord, when He would gather the nations for judgment (see Zephaniah 3:8; Isaiah 3:9; 2 Peter 3:7).

Jesus anticipates this day in today’s Gospel. He cautions us not to be deceived by those claiming “the time has come.” Such deception is the background also for today’s Epistle (see 2 Thessalonians 2:1–3).

The signs Jesus gives His Apostles seem to already have come to pass in the New Testament. In Acts, the Epistles, and Revelation, we read of famines and earthquakes, the Temple’s desolation. We read of persecutions—believers imprisoned and put to death, testifying to their faith with wisdom in the Spirit.

These “signs,” then, show us the pattern for the Church’s life—both in the New Testament and today.

We too live in a world of nations and kingdoms at war. And we should take the Apostles as our “models,” as today’s Epistle counsels. Like them we must persevere in the face of unbelieving relatives and friends, and forces and authorities hostile to God.

As we do in today’s Psalm, we should sing His praises, joyfully proclaim His coming as Lord and King. The Day of the Lord is always a day that has already come and a day still yet to come. It is the “today” of our Liturgy.

The Apostles prayed marana tha—“O Lord come!” (see 1 Corinthians 16:22; Revelation 22:20). In the Eucharist He answers, coming again as the Lord of hosts and the Sun of Justice with its healing rays. It is a mighty sign—and a pledge of that Day to come.

Direct download: C_33_Ordinary_16.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Readings:
2 Maccabees 7:1–2, 9–14
Psalm 17:1, 5–6, 8, 15
2 Thessalonians 2:16–3:5
Luke 20:27–38


With their riddle about seven brothers and a childless widow, the Sadducees in today’s Gospel mock the faith for which seven brothers and their mother die in the First Reading.

The Maccabean martyrs chose death—tortured limb by limb, burned alive—rather than betray God’s Law. Their story is given to us in these last weeks of the Church year to strengthen us for endurance—that our feet might not falter but remain steadfast on His paths.

The Maccabeans died hoping that the “King of the World” would raise them to live again forever (see 2 Maccabees 14:46).

The Sadducees don’t believe in the Resurrection because they can’t find it literally taught in the Scriptures. To ridicule this belief they fix on a law that requires a woman to marry her husband’s brother if he should die without leaving an heir (see Genesis 38:8; Deuteronomy 25:5).

But God’s Law wasn’t given to ensure the raising up of descendants to earthly fathers. The Law was given, as Jesus explains, to make us worthy to be “children of God”—sons and daughters born of His Resurrection.

“God our Father,” today’s Epistle tells us, has given us “everlasting encouragement” in the Resurrection of Christ. Through His grace, we can now direct our hearts to the love of God.

As the Maccabeans suffered for the Old Law, we will have to suffer for our faith in the New Covenant. Yet He will guard us in the shadow of His wing, keep us as the apple of His eye, as we sing in today’s Psalm.

The Maccabeans’ persecutors marveled at their courage. We too can glorify the Lord in our sufferings and in the daily sacrifices we make.

And we have even greater cause than they for hope. One who has risen from the dead has given us His word—that He is the God of the living, that when we awake from the sleep of death we will behold His face, and will be be content in His presence (see Psalm 76:6; Daniel 12:2).

Direct download: C_32_Ordinary.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

1