St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

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: 12:00pm EST

Génesis 2,7–9; 3,1–7
Salmo 51,3–6.12–14.17
Romanos 5,12–19
Mateo 4,1–11

En la liturgia de hoy, el destino de la raza humana se nos cuenta como un relato sobre dos “tipos” de hombre: el primero, Adán, y el nuevo Adán, Jesús (cf. 1 Co 15,21–22; 45–59).

San Pablo construye su argumento en la epístola mediante una serie de contrastes entre “uno” o “una solo hombre”, y “muchos” o “todos”. Por la desobediencia de una persona entró el pecado y la condena al mundo, y la muerte comenzó a reinar sobre todos. Por la obediencia de otro, abundó la gracia, todos fueron justificados y la vida vino a reinar para todos.

Este es el drama que se revela en la primera lectura y el Evangelio de hoy.

Adán, que fue formado de la arcilla del suelo y lleno del aliento del propio Espíritu Divino, era hijo de Dios (cf. Lc 3,38), creado a su imagen (cf. Gn 5,1–3). Coronado de su gloria, se le dio poder sobre toda la tierra y la protección de sus ángeles (cf. Sal 8,6–8; 91,11–13). Fue creado para adorar a Dios; para vivir no sólo de pan sino de la obediencia a cada palabra que sale de la boca de Dios.

Sin embargo, Adán puso a prueba al Señor su Dios. Cedió a la tentación de la serpiente, tratando de tomar para sí todo lo que Dios ya le había prometido. Pero Jesús, a la hora de su tentación, venció en lo que Adán había fallado y apartó al demonio.

Nosotros aún pecamos, siguiendo los pasos de la caída de Adán. Como él, dejamos entrar el pecado en nuestra puerta cuando alimentamos dudas sobre las promesas de Dios, cuando olvidamos llamarlo en nuestros momentos de tentación.

Pero la gracia que Cristo nos ganó con su obediencia implica que el pecado ya no es amo nuestro.

Al comenzar este tiempo de arrepentimiento podemos confiar en su compasión, en que Él creará en nosotros un nuevo corazón (cf. Rm 5,5; Hb 8,10). Como lo hemos hecho con el salmo de hoy, podemos cantar alegremente nuestra salvación, renovados en su presencia.

Direct download: A_1_Lent_Spn_17.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm 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 it 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 (Ephesians 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 Romans 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 Matthew 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 Romans 5:8).

We have been bought with the price of the blood of God’s only Son (see 1 Corinthians 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: 12:00pm 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 Matthew
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 Romans 6:17). He calls us to love God with all our hearts, and to do His will from the heart (see Matthew 22:37; Ephesians 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 (Romans 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: 12:00pm 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 Chronicles 13:5, 8; Leviticus 2:13; Ezekiel 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 Isaiah 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 Isaiah 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: 12:00pm EST

Malachi 3:1–4
Psalm 24:7, 8, 9, 10
Hebrews 2:14–18
Luke 2:22–40

Today’s feast marks the Presentation of the Lord Jesus in the Temple, forty days after he was born. As the firstborn, he belonged to God. According to the Law, Mary and Joseph were required to take him to the Temple and “redeem” him by paying five shekels. At the same time, the Law required the child’s mother to offer sacrifice in order to overcome the ritual impurity brought about by childbirth.

So the feast we celebrate shows a curious turn of events. The Redeemer seems to be redeemed. She who is all-pure presents herself to be purified. Such is the humility of our God. Such is the humility of the Blessed Virgin. They submit to the law even though they are not bound by it.

However, the Gospel story nowhere mentions Jesus’ “redemption,” but seems to describe instead a religious consecration—such as a priest might undergo. Saint Luke tells us that Jesus is “presented” in the Temple, using the same verb that Saint Paul uses to describe the offering of a sacrifice (see Romans 12:1). Another parallel is the Old Testament dedication of Samuel (1 Sam 1:24-27) to the Temple as a priest.

The drama surrounding Jesus’ conception and birth began in the Temple—when the Archangel visited Mary’s kinsman, Zechariah the priest. And now the story of Jesus’ infancy comes to a fitting conclusion, again in the Temple.

All the readings today concern Jerusalem, the Temple, and the sacrificial rites. The first reading comes from the Prophet Malachi, who called the priests to return to faithful service—and foretold a day when a Messiah would arrive with definitive purification of the priesthood.

Likewise, the Psalm announces to Jerusalem that Jerusalem is about to receive a great visitor. The Psalmist identifies him as “The LORD of hosts . . . the king of glory.”

Christ now arrives as the long-awaited priest and redeemer. He is also the sacrifice. Indeed, as his life will show, He is the Temple itself (see John 2:19-21).

Direct download: BTB_-_Presentation_of_the_Lord.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 9:49am EST

Isaiah 8:23–9:3
Psalm 27:1, 4, 13–14
1 Corinthians 1:10–13, 17
Matthew 4:12–23

Today’s Liturgy gives us a lesson in ancient Israelite geography and history.

Isaiah’s prophecy in today’s First Reading is quoted by Matthew in today’s Gospel. Both intend to recall the apparent fall of the everlasting kingdom promised to David (see 2 Samuel 7:12–13; Psalm 89; 132:11–12).

Eight centuries before Christ, that part of the kingdom where the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali lived was attacked by the Assyrians, and the tribes were hauled off into captivity (see 2 Kings 15:29; 1 Chronicles 5:26).

It marked the beginning of the kingdom’s end. It finally crumbled in the sixth century BC, when Jerusalem was seized by Babylon and the remaining tribes were driven into exile (see 2 Kings 24:14).

Isaiah prophesied that Zebulun and Naphtali, the lands first to be degraded, would be the first to see the light of God’s salvation. Jesus today fulfills that prophecy—announcing the restoration of David’s kingdom at precisely the spot where the kingdom began to fall.

His Gospel of the Kingdom includes not only the twelve tribes of Israel but all the nations—symbolized by the “Galilee of the Nations.” Calling His first disciples, two fishermen on the Sea of Galilee, He appoints them to be “fishers of men”—gathering people from the ends of the earth.

They are to preach the Gospel, Paul says in today’s Epistle, to unite all peoples in the same mind and in the same purpose—in a worldwide kingdom of God.

By their preaching, Isaiah’s promise has been delivered. A world in darkness has seen the light. Th e yoke of slavery and sin, borne by humanity since time began, has been smashed.

And we are able now, as we sing in today’s Psalm, to dwell in the house of the Lord, to worship Him in the land of the living.

Direct download: A_3_Ordinary.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Isaías 8,23–9,3
Salmo 27,1.4.13–14
1 Corintios 1,10–13.17
Mateo 4,12–23

La liturgia de hoy nos da una lección de geografía e historia israelita antigua.

En el Evangelio de hoy, Mateo menciona la profecía de Isaías que aparece en la primera lectura. Ambas citas buscan recordar la aparente caída del reino eterno prometido a David (cf. 2 S 7,12–14; Sal 89; Sal 132, 11–12).

Ocho siglos antes de Jesús, la parte del reino donde vivían las tribus de Zebulón y Neftalí fue atacada por los asirios y sus habitantes fueron llevados al cautiverio (cf. 2 R 15,29; 1 Cr 5,26).

Esto marcó el comienzo del final del reino, que terminó desmoronándose en el siglo VI antes de Cristo, cuando Jerusalén fue capturada por Babilonia y las tribus que quedaban fueron llevadas al exilio (cf. 2 R 24,14).

Isaías profetizó que Zabulón y Neftalí, las primeras tierras que fueron degradadas, serían también las primeras en ver la luz de la salvación de Dios. Jesús cumple hoy esa profecía, anunciando la restauración del reino de David, precisamente ahí donde empezó a caer.

Su Evangelio del reino incluye no sólo a las doce tribus de Israel, sino a todas las naciones, simbolizadas en la “Galilea de las naciones”. Al llamar a sus primeros discípulos, dos pescadores del mar de Galilea, los destina a ser “pescadores de hombres”.

Según nos dice San Pablo en la Epístola de hoy, los discípulos han de predicar el evangelio para unir todos los pueblos en un mismo pensar y sentir; en un reino mundial de Dios.

Mediante su predicación, la profecía de Isaías ha sido proclamada. Un mundo en tinieblas ha visto la luz. El yugo de la esclavitud y el pecado, cargado por la humanidad desde el inicio de los tiempos, ha sido destrozado.

Como cantamos en el salmo de hoy, ya somos capaces de habitar en la casa del Señor, de adorarlo en la tierra de los vivos.

Direct download: A_3_Ordinary_Spn_17.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Isaías 49,3.5–6
Salmo 40,2.4.7–10
1 Corintios 1,1–3
Juan 1,29–34

Jesús habla por medio del profeta Isaías en la primera lectura de hoy.

Nos habla sobre la misión que el Padre le ha dado desde el vientre materno: “El Señor me dijo: ‘tú eres mi Siervo’”.

Nuestro Señor, Siervo e Hijo, fue enviado para liderar un nuevo éxodo, para levantar las tribus exiliadas de Israel, para reunirlas y restituirlas a Dios. Más aún, para ser luz de las naciones y que la salvación de Dios llegue a los confines de la tierra (cf. Hch 13,46–47).

Antes del primer éxodo fue ofrecido un cordero en sacrificio, y su sangre tiñó los dinteles de las puertas de los israelitas. La sangre del cordero identificó sus hogares y el Señor los “pasó de largo”, sin ejecutar en ellos la sentencia destinada a los egipcios (cf. Ex 12,1–23.27).

En el nuevo éxodo, Jesús es el “Cordero de Dios”, tal como es contemplado por Juan en el Evangelio de hoy (cf. 1 Co 5,7; 1P 1,18–18). Nuestro Señor canta sobre ello en el salmo de este día. Ha venido, nos dice, a ofrecer su Cuerpo para cumplir la voluntad de Dios (cf. Hb 10,3–13).

Los sacrificios, oblaciones, holocaustos y ofrendas por los pecados, dados después del primer éxodo, no tenían poder para borrar los pecados (cf. Hb 10,4). Esas prácticas no fueron concebidas para salvar, sino para enseñar (cf. Ga 3,24). Al ofrecer esos sacrificios, el pueblo debía aprender a sacrificarse, a adorar, a ofrecerse a sí mismo libremente a Dios y a deleitarse en su voluntad.

Sólo Jesús pudo hacer esa ofrenda perfecta de sí mismo. Y por su sacrificio nos ha abierto los oídos a la obediencia, nos ha hecho capaces de escuchar la llamada del Padre a la santidad, como dice San Pablo en la epístola de hoy.

Él nos ha hecho hijos de Dios, bautizados en la sangre del Cordero (cf. Ap 7,14). Y hemos de unir nuestro sacrificio al suyo para ofrecer nuestros cuerpos—vidas—como sacrificios vivos en la adoración espiritual de la Misa (cf. Rm 12,1).

Direct download: A_2_Ordinary_Spn_17.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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, He has 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: 12:00pm EST

Isaiah 42:1–4, 6–7
Psalm 29:1–4, 9–10
Acts 10:34–38
Matthew 3:13–17

Jesus presents himself for baptism in today’s Gospel not because He is a sinner, but to fulfill the word of God proclaimed by His prophets. He must be baptized to reveal that He is the Christ (“anointed one”)—the Spirit-endowed Servant promised by Isaiah in today’s First Reading.

His baptism marks the start of a new world, a new creation. As Isaiah prophesied, the Spirit descends upon Jesus like a dove—as the Spirit hovered over the face of the deep in the beginning (see Genesis 1:2).

As it was in the beginning, at the Jordan also the majestic voice of the Lord thunders above the waters. The Father opens the heavens and declares Jesus to be His “beloved son.”

God had long prepared the Israelites for His coming, as Peter preaches in today’s Second Reading. Jesus was anticipated in the “beloved son” given to Abraham (see Genesis 22:2, 12, 26), and in the calling of Israel as His “first-born son” (see Exodus 4:22–23). Jesus is the divine son begotten by God, the everlasting heir promised to King David (see Psalm 2:7; 2 Samuel 7:14).

He is “a covenant of the people [Israel]” and “a light to the nations,” Isaiah says. By the new covenant made in His blood (see 1 Corinthians 11:25), God has gathered the lost sheep of Israel together with whoever fears Him in every nation.

Christ has become the source from which God pours out His Spirit on Israelites and Gentiles alike (see Acts 10:45). In Baptism, all are anointed with that same Spirit, made beloved sons and daughters of God. Indeed, we are Christians—literally “anointed ones.”

We are the “sons of God” in today’s Psalm—called to give glory to His name in His temple. Let us pray that we remain faithful to our calling as His children, that our Father might call us what he calls His Son—“my beloved . . . in whom I am well pleased.”

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