St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

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.

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Readings:
Malachi 1:14-2:2, 8-10
Psalm 131:1-3
1 Thessalonians 2:7-9, 13
Matthew 23:1-12

Though they were Moses' successors, the Pharisees and scribes exalted themselves, made their mastery of the law a badge of social privilege. Worse, they had lorded the law over the people (see Matthew 20:25). Like the priests Malachi condemns in today's First Reading, they caused many to falter and be closed off from God.

In a word, Israel's leaders failed to be good spiritual fathers of God's people. Moses was a humble father-figure, preaching the law but also practicing it - interceding and begging God's mercy and forgiveness of the people's sins (see Exodus 32:9-14; Psalm 90).

And Jesus reminds us today that all fatherhood - in the family or in the people of God - comes from the our Father in heaven (see Ephesians 3:15).

He doesn't mean we're to literally call no man "father." He himself referred to Israel's founding fathers (see John 7:42); the apostles taught about natural fatherhood (see Hebrews 12:7-11), and described themselves as spiritual fathers (see 1 Corinthians 4:14-16)

The fatherhood of the apostles and their successors, the Church's priests and bishops, is a spiritual paternity given to raise us as God's children. Our fathers give us new life in baptism, and feed us the spiritual milk of the gospel and the Eucharist (see 1 Peter 2:2-3). That's why Paul, in today's Epistle, can also compare himself to a nursing mother.

God's fatherhood likewise transcends all human notions of fatherhood and motherhood. Perhaps that's why the Psalm chosen for today includes one of the rare biblical images of God's maternal care (see Isaiah 66:13).

His only Son has shown us the Father (see John 14:9) coming to gather His children as a hen gathers her young (see Matthew 23:37). We're all brothers and sisters, our Lord tells us today. And all of us - even our spiritual fathers - are to trust in Him, humbly, like children on our mothers' laps.

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Lecturas:
Éxodo 22, 20-26
Salmo 18, 2-4.47.51
1 Tesalonicenses 1, 5-10
Mateo 22, 34-40

Jesús no vino a abolir el Antiguo Testamento, sino a cumplirlo (cf. Mt 5,17).

Y Él, en el Evangelio de hoy, revela que en el amor –a Dios y al prójimo- está el cumplimiento de toda la ley (cf. Rm 13,8-10).

Los israelitas devotos habían de cumplir los 613 mandamientos que se encuentran en los primeros cinco libros de la Biblia. Jesús dice hoy que todos ellos, así como la enseñanza de los profetas, se pueden resumir en dos versículos de la Ley (cf. Dt 6,5; Lv 19,18).

Jesús parece así resumir las dos tablas de piedra en las que Dios dejó grabado los diez mandamientos (cf. Ex 32, 15-16). La primera tabla exponía tres leyes concernientes al amor a Dios –como el mandamiento de no tomar su nombre en vano. La segunda contenía siete mandamientos sobre el amor al prójimo, como aquellos sobre el robo y el adulterio.

El amor es la bisagra que une las dos tablas de la ley. Pues no podemos amar a Dios, a quien no vemos, si no amamos a nuestro prójimo, a quien sí vemos (cf. 1Jn 4,20-22).

Pero este amor al que estamos llamados es mucho más que un simple afecto o un sentimiento cariñoso. Debemos darnos totalmente a Dios, amando con todo nuestro ser, con todo nuestro corazón, alma y mente. Nuestro amor al prójimo debe expresarse en acciones concretas, como las expuestas en la primera lectura.

Amamos porque Él nos amó primero (cf. Jn 4,19). Como cantamos en el salmo de hoy, Él ha sido nuestro libertador, nuestra fortaleza cuando no podíamos en modo alguno defendernos contra los enemigos del pecado y de la muerte.

Amamos al dar gracias por nuestra salvación. Y en esto nos convertimos en imitadores de Jesús, como San Pablo nos dice en la epístola de hoy, dejando de lado nuestra vida diariamente en lo grande y en lo pequeño, en lo que se ve y en lo oculto, ofreciéndola como continuo sacrificio de alabanza (cf. Jn 15,12-13; Hb 13,14).

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Readings:
Exodus 22:20-26
Psalm 18:2-4, 47, 51
1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
Matthew 22:34-40

Jesus came not to abolish the Old Testament law but to fulfill it (see Matthew 5:17)

And in today's Gospel, He reveals that love - of God and of neighbor - is the fulfillment of the whole of the law (see Romans 13:8-10).

Devout Israelites were to keep all 613 commands found in the Bible's first five books. Jesus says today that all these, and all the teachings of the prophets, can be summarized by two verses of this law (see Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18).

He seems to summarize the two stone tablets on which God was said to have engraved the ten commandments (see Exodus 32:15-16). The first tablet set out three laws concerning the love of God - such as the command not to take His name in vain; the second contained seven commands regarding love of neighbor, such as those against stealing and adultery.

Love is the hinge that binds the two tablets of the law. For we can't love God, whom we can't see, if we don't love our neighbor, whom we can (see 1 John 4:20-22).

But this love we are called to is far more than simple affection or warm sentiment. We must give ourselves totally to God - loving with our whole beings, with all our heart, soul and mind. Our love for our neighbor must express itself in concrete actions, such as those set out in today's First Reading.

We love because He first loved us (see 1 John 4:19). As we sing in today's Psalm, He has been our deliverer, our strength when we could not possibly defend ourselves against the enemies of sin and death.

We love in thanksgiving for our salvation. And in this become imitators of Jesus, as Paul tells us in today's Epistle - laying down our lives daily in ways large and small, seen and unseen; our lives offered as a continual sacrifice of praise (see John 15:12-13; Hebrews 13:15).

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Lecturas:
Isaías 45, 1.4-6
Salmo 96, 1.3-5.7-10
1 Tesalonicenses 1, 1-5
Mateo 22, 15-21

El Señor es el rey de toda la tierra, como cantamos en el salmo de este domingo. Los gobiernos ascienden y caen con su permiso, y no tienen más autoridad que la que les ha sido dada desde arriba (cf. Jn 19,11; Rm 13,1).

En efecto, Dios le dice a todo gobernante lo que hoy le dice al rey Ciro en la primera lectura: “Te he llamado…aunque no me conocías”.

El Señor ha levantado a Ciro para restablecer a los israelitas desde el exilio, y para reconstruir Jerusalén (cf. Esd 1,1-4). A lo largo de la historia de la salvación, Dios ha utilizado gobernantes extranjeros para bien de su pueblo elegido. El corazón del faraón fue endurecido para revelar el poder de Dios (cf. Rm 9,17). Los ejércitos invasores fueron usados para castigar a Israel por sus pecados (cf. 2 M 6,7-16).

En modo parecido, la ocupación romana que existía en tiempo de Jesús era una sentencia por la falta de fe de Israel. Las famosas palabras de Cristo en el Evangelio de esta semana: “Dar al César lo que es del César” son un recordatorio de ello. Y esas mismas palabras nos llaman, también a nosotros, a mantener firme nuestra lealtad.

Sólo Dios es nuestro rey. Su reino no es de este mundo (cf. Jn 18,36) pero comienza aquí en su Iglesia, que habla de su gloria entre todos los pueblos. Ciudadanos del cielo (cf. Flp 3,20), estamos llamados a ser luz para el mundo (cf. Mt 5,14), activos en la fe, esforzados en el amor y pacientes en la esperanza, como aconseja la epístola de hoy.

A nuestro gobierno le debemos la preocupación por el bien común y la obediencia a las leyes, siempre y cuando no entren en conflicto con los mandamientos de Dios interpretados por la Iglesia (cf. Hch 5,29).

Pero a Dios le debemos todo. La moneda lleva la imagen del César. Pero nosotros llevamos la imagen misma de Dios (cf. Gn 1,27). A Él le debemos nuestras vidas: nuestro corazón, mente, alma y fortaleza ofrecidos como sacrificio vivo de amor (cf. Rm 12,1-2).

Deberíamos rezar por nuestros líderes, que como Ciro hacen la voluntad de Dios (cf. 1Tm 2,1-2), hasta que desde el alba hasta el ocaso, toda la humanidad sepa que Jesús es el Señor.

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Readings:
Isaiah 45:1,4-6
Psalm 96:1,3-5, 7-10
1 Thessalonians 1:1-5
Matthew 22:15-21

The Lord is king over all the earth, as we sing in today's Psalm. Governments rise and fall by His permission, with no authority but that given from above (see John 19:11; Romans 13:1).

In effect, God says to every ruler what he tells King Cyrus in today's First Reading: "I have called you . . . though you knew me not."

The Lord raised up Cyrus to restore the Israelites from exile, and to rebuild Jerusalem (see Ezra 1:1-4). Throughout salvation history, God has used foreign rulers for the sake of His chosen people. Pharaoh's heart was hardened to reveal God's power (see Romans 9:17). Invading armies were used to punish Israel's sins (see 2 Maccabees 6:7-16).

The Roman occupation during Jesus' time was, in a similar way, a judgment on Israel's unfaithfulness. Jesus' famous words in today's Gospel: "Repay to Caesar" are a pointed reminder of this. And they call us, too, to keep our allegiances straight.

The Lord alone is our king. His kingdom is not of this world (see John 18:36) but it begins here in His Church, which tells of His glory among all peoples. Citizens of heaven (see Philippians 3:20), we are called to be a light to the world (see Matthew 5:14) - working in faith, laboring in love, and enduring in hope, as today's Epistle counsels.

We owe the government a concern for the common good, and obedience to laws - unless they conflict with God's commandments as interpreted by the Church (see Acts 5:29).

But we owe God everything. The coin bears Caesar's image. But we bear God's own image (see Genesis 1:27). We owe Him our very lives - all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, offered as a living sacrifice of love (see Romans 12:1-2).

We should pray for our leaders, that like Cyrus they do God's will (see 1 Timothy 2:1-2) - until from the rising of the sun to its setting, all humanity knows that Jesus is Lord.

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Lecturas:
Isaías 25, 6-10
Salmo 23, 1-6
Filipenses 4,12-14.19-20
Mateo 22,1-14

La parábola que Nuestro Señor nos da en el Evangelio de esta semana es nuevamente un claro compendio de la historia de la salvación.

Dios es el rey (cf. Mt 5,35), Jesús es el novio (cf. Mt 9,15), el banquete es la salvación y la vida eterna que Isaías profetiza en la primera lectura de este domingo. Los israelitas son los primeros que Dios ha invitado por medio de sus siervos, los profetas (cf. Is 7,25). Al rechazar continuamente las invitaciones de Dios, Israel ha sido castigado y su ciudad ha sido conquistada por ejércitos extranjeros.

Ahora, establece claramente Jesús, Dios ha enviado nuevos siervos, sus Apóstoles, para llamar no sólo a los israelitas, sino a todos los pueblos –buenos y malos- al banquete de su reino. Esa es una imagen de la Iglesia, a la que Jesús compara en otras partes con un campo sembrado de trigo y cizaña, o con una red de pesca en la que han caído tanto peces buenos como malos (cf. Mt 13,24-43; 47,50).

Hemos sido llamados a este gran banquete de amor en la Iglesia donde, como Isaías predijo, ha sido destruido el velo que una vez separó a las naciones de las alianzas de Israel; donde el muro divisorio de la enemistad ha sido derrumbado por la sangre de Cristo (cf. Ef 2,11-14).

Como cantamos en el salmo de esta semana, el Señor nos ha guiado a su banquete, ha refrescado nuestras almas con las aguas del bautismo, ha preparado la mesa ante nosotros en la Eucaristía. Como San Pablo nos dice en la epístola, en la espléndida riqueza de Cristo encontraremos satisfacción para cualquiera de nuestras necesidades. Y en el rico alimento de su Cuerpo, y el precioso vino que es su Sangre, pregustamos el banquete eterno de la Jerusalén celestial, en que Dios destruirá la muerte para siempre.

Pero, ¿llevamos un traje adecuado para el banquete?¿Estamos revestidos con prendas de justicia? (cf. Ap 19,8). Jesús advierte que no todos los llamados serán escogidos para la vida eterna. Asegurémonos de vivir en modo digno de la invitación que hemos recibido (cf. Ef 4,1).

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Readings:
Isaiah 25:6-10
Psalm 23:1-6
Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20
Matthew 22:1-14

Our Lord's parable in today's Gospel is again a fairly straightforward outline of salvation history.

God is the king (see Matthew 5:35), Jesus the bridegroom (see Matthew 9:15), the feast is the salvation and eternal life that Isaiah prophesies in today's First Reading. The Israelites are those first invited to the feast by God's servants, the prophets (see Isaiah 7:25). For refusing repeated invitations and even killing His prophets, Israel has been punished, its city conquered by foreign armies.

Now, Jesus makes clear, God has sending new servants, His apostles, to call not only Israelites, but all people - good and bad alike - to the feast of His kingdom. This an image of the Church, which Jesus elsewhere compares to a field sown with both wheat and weeds, and a fishing net that catches good fish and bad (see Matthew 13:24-43, 47-50).

We have all been called to this great feast of love in the Church, where, as Isaiah foretold, the veil that once separated the nations from the covenants of Israel has been destroyed, where the dividing wall of enmity has been torn down by the blood of Christ (see Ephesians 2:11-14).

As we sing in today's Psalm, the Lord has led us to this feast, refreshing our souls in the waters of baptism, spreading the table before us in the Eucharist. As Paul tells us in today's Epistle, in the glorious riches of Christ, we will find supplied whatever we need.

And in the rich food of His body, and the choice wine of His blood, we have a foretaste of the eternal banquet in the heavenly Jerusalem, when God will destroy death forever (see Hebrews 12:22-24).

But are we dressed for the feast, clothed in the garment of righteousness (see Revelation 19:8)? Not all who have been called will be chosen for eternal life, Jesus warns. Let us be sure that we're living in a manner worthy of the invitation we've received (see Ephesians 4:1).

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Lecturas:
Isaías 5, 1-7
Salmo 80,9.12-16.19-20
Filipenses 4, 6-9
Mateo 21,33-43

Jesús, en el Evangelio de esta semana, utiliza de nuevo el símbolo veterotestamentario de la viña para instruir sobre Israel, la Iglesia y el reino de Dios. Es fácil también comprender el simbolismo de la primera lectura y el salmo.

Dios es el propietario y la casa de Israel es la viña. Como vid apreciada, Israel es arrancada de Egipto y trasplantada en una tierra fértil preparada especialmente por Dios; es cercada por las murallas de Jerusalén y vigilada por el imponente Templo. Pero la viña no produjo uvas buenas para vino, símbolo de las vidas santas que Dios esperaba de su pueblo. Por ello Dios permitió que fuera invadida por invasores extranjeros, como Isaías prevé en la primera lectura.

Jesús continúa la historia en donde la deja Isaías, incluso usando sus palabras para describir el lagar, la cerca y la torre. Los líderes religiosos de Israel, los labradores de esta parábola, no han aprendido nada de Isaías ni del pasado de Israel. En vez de producir buenos frutos, han matado a los servidores del propietario, los profetas enviados para reunir la cosecha: las almas fieles.

Como oscuro presagio de su propia crucifixión fuera de Jerusalén, Jesús dice que el ultraje final de los labradores será detener al hijo del propietario y matarlo fuera de las murallas de la viña.

Por esto la viña, a la que Jesús llama reino de Dios, les será quitada y le será entregada a nuevos labradores: los líderes de la Iglesia, que producirá sus frutos.

Cada uno de nosotros es una vid en la viña del Señor, injertada en la Vid verdadera que es Cristo (cf. Jn 15,1-8), llamado a llevar frutos de justicia en Él (cf. Flp 1,11) y a ser “primicia” de una nueva creación (cf. St 1,18).

Debemos cuidar el no dejarnos perdernos por las espinas y las zarzas que son las preocupaciones del mundo. Como advierte la epístola de hoy, hemos de llenar nuestro corazón y nuestra mente con intenciones nobles y acciones virtuosas, regocijándonos siempre por que el Señor está cerca.

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Isaiah 5:1-7
Psalm 80:9, 12-16, 19-20
Philippians 4:6-9
Matthew 21:33-43

In today's Gospel Jesus returns to the Old Testament symbol of the vineyard to teach about Israel, the Church, and the kingdom of God.

And the symbolism of today's First Reading and Psalm is readily understood.

God is the owner and the house of Israel is the vineyard. A cherished vine, Israel was plucked from Egypt and transplanted in a fertile land specially spaded and prepared by God, hedged about by the city walls of Jerusalem, watched over by the towering Temple. But the vineyard produced no good grapes for the wine, a symbol for the holy lives God wanted for His people. So God allowed His vineyard to be overrun by foreign invaders, as Isaiah foresees in the First Reading.

Jesus picks up the story where Isaiah leaves off, even using Isaiah's words to describe the vineyard's wine press, hedge, and watchtower. Israel's religious leaders, the tenants in His parable, have learned nothing from Isaiah or Israel's past. Instead of producing good fruits, they've killed the owner's servants, the prophets sent to gather the harvest of faithful souls.

In a dark foreshadowing of His own crucifixion outside Jerusalem, Jesus says the tenants' final outrage will be to seize the owner's son, and to kill him outside the vineyard walls.

For this, the vineyard, which Jesus calls the kingdom of God, will be taken away and given to new tenants - the leaders of the Church, who will produce its fruit.

We are each a vine in the Lord's vineyard, grafted onto the true vine of Christ (see John 15:1-8), called to bear fruits of the righteousness in Him (see Philippians 1:11), and to be the "first fruits" of a new creation (see James 1:18).

We need to take care that we don't let ourselves be overgrown with the thorns and briers of worldly anxiety. As today's Epistle advises, we need to fill our hearts and minds with noble intentions and virtuous deeds, rejoicing always that the Lord is near.

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