St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

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: 12:00pm EDT

Lecturas:
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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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