St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

Readings:

Isaiah 55:10-11  
Psalm 65:10-14
Romans 8:18-23   
Matthew 13:1-23

Today’s readings, like last week’s, ask us to meditate on Israel’s response to God’s Word—and our own. Why do some hear the word of the kingdom, yet fail to accept it as a call to conversion and faith in Jesus? That question underlies today’s Gospel, especially.

Again we see, as we did last week, that the kingdom’s mysteries are unfolded to those who open their hearts, making of them a rich soil in the which the Word can grow and bear fruit.

As we sing in today’s Psalm, in Jesus, God’s Word has visited our land, to water the stony earth of our hearts with the living waters of the Spirit (see John 7:38; Revelation 22:1).

The firstfruit of the Word is the Spirit of love and adoption poured into our hearts in baptism, making us children of God, as Paul reminds us in today’s Epistle (see Romans 5:5; 8:15-16). In this, we are made a “new creation” (see 2 Corinthians 5:17), the firstfruits of a new heaven and a new earth (see 2 Peter 3:13).

Since the first humans rejected God’s Word, creation has been enslaved to futility (see Genesis 3:17-19; 5:29). But God’s Word does not go forth only to return to Him void, as we hear in today’s First Reading.

His Word awaits our response. We must show ourselves to be children of that Word. We must allow that Word to accomplish God’s will in our lives. As Jesus warns today, we must take care lest the devil steal it away or lest it be choked by worldly concerns.

In the Eucharist, the Word gives himself to us as bread to eat. He does so that we might be made fertile, yielding fruits of holiness.

And we await the crowning of the year, the great harvest of the Lord’s Day (see Mark 4:29; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 1:10)—when His Word will have achieved the end for which it was sent.

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Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 10:00am EDT

Lecturas:

Isaías 55, 10-11
Salmo 65, 10-14
Romanos 8, 18-23
Mateo 13, 1-23

Las lecturas de hoy, como las de la semana anterior, nos invitan a meditar en la respuesta de Israel a la Palabra de Dios y también en nuestra propia respuesta. ¿Porqué algunos de los que escuchan la palabra del reino, aún no la aceptan como llamada a la conversión y a la fe en Jesús? Esa pregunta subyace de manera especial en el Evangelio de hoy.

Nuevamente vemos, como la semana pasada, que los misterios del reino son revelados a los que abren sus corazones, haciendo de ellos tierra fértil en la que la Palabra puede crecer y dar frutos.

Como cantamos en el salmo de este domingo, en Jesús la Palabra de Dios ha visitado nuestra tierra, para empapar el suelo pedregoso de nuestros corazones con las aguas vivas del Espíritu (cf. Jn 7,38; Ap 22,1).

Como San Pablo nos recuerda en la epístola de esta semana (cf. Rm 5,5; 8,15-16) la primicia de la Palabra es el Espíritu de amor y adopción derramado en nuestros corazones en el bautismo, que nos hizo hijos de Dios. En él somos hechos una “nueva creación” (cf. 2 Co 5,17),  primicias de un cielo nuevo y una tierra nueva (cf. 2P 3,13).

Desde que los primeros hombres rechazaron la Palabra de Dios, la creación ha sido esclavizada de lo vano (cf. Gn 3,17-19; 5.29).  Pero la Palabra de Dios no sale para volver a Él sin resultado, como escuchamos en la primera lectura del domingo.

Su Palabra espera nuestra respuesta.  Debemos demostrar que somos hijos de esa Palabra.  Debemos permitir que esa Palabra realice la voluntad de Dios en nuestras vidas.  Como Jesús nos advierte, debemos cuidar que no sea arrebatada por el diablo o ahogada por las preocupaciones mundanas.

En la Eucaristía, Jesús, la Palabra, se nos da a Sí mismo como pan que alimenta.  Lo hace para que podamos ser fértiles, dando frutos de santidad.

Y así esperamos la coronación del año, la gran cosecha del Día del Señor (cf. Mc 4,29; 2P 3,10; Ap 14,15), cuando Su Palabra haya alcanzado el fin para el cual fue enviada.

Direct download: A_15_Ordinary_Spn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EDT

Lecturas:

Zacarías 9, 9-10
Salmo 145, 1-2.8-11.13-14
Romanos 8, 9.11-13
Mateo 11, 25-30

En el Evangelio de esta semana, se nos da una semblanza de Jesús como un nuevo y más grande Moisés.

Moisés, el hombre más humilde que había sobre la tierra (cf. Nm 12,3), era amigo de Dios (cf. Éx 34,12.17). Sólo él trataba con Dios “cara a cara” (cf. Dt 34,10). Y Moisés le dio a Israel el yugo de la Ley, por la cual Dios se reveló, primero a Sí mismo y después el modo como debemos vivir (cf. Jr 2,20; 5,5).

También Jesús es manso y humilde. Pero él es más que un amigo de Dios. Es el Hijo, el único que conoce al Padre. También es más que un legislador; hoy se nos presenta como el yugo de una nueva Ley y como la Sabiduría revelada de Dios.

Como la Sabiduría que es, Jesús estaba presente desde antes de la creación del mundo, como el primogénito de Dios, el Padre y Señor del cielo y de la tierra (cf. Pr 8,22; S 9,9). Y nos da el conocimiento de las cosas santas del reino de Dios (cf. S 10,10).

De acuerdo a la gentil voluntad del Padre, Jesús revela estas cosas sólo a los que son como niños; a los que se humillan ante Él como niños pequeños (cf. Si 2,17). Solamente ellos pueden reconocer y recibir a Jesús como el salvador justo, como el rey humilde prometido a la hija Sión, Israel, en la primera lectura de este domingo.

También nosotros estamos llamados a tener esa fe de niños y a confiar en la bondad del Padre, como hijos del nuevo reino: la Iglesia.

En la epístola de este domingo, San Pablo nos exhorta a vivir por el Espíritu que recibimos en el bautismo (cf. Ga 5,16), sepultando nuestros viejos modos de pensar y actuar. Nuestro “yugo” es cumplir Su nueva ley de amor (cf. Jn 13,34), por la cual entramos en el “resto” de su reino.

Como cantamos en el salmo de este domingo, esperamos alegremente el día en que bendeciremos su Nombre para siempre, en el reino que perdura por los siglos. Este es el descanso sabático prometido por Jesús, anticipado primero por Moisés (cf. Ex 20,8-11), pero que aún queda para el pueblo de Dios (Hb 4,9).

Direct download: A_14_Ordinary_Spn_17.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

Readings:

Zechariah 9:9-10   
Psalm 145:1-2, 8-11, 13-14
Romans 8:9, 11-13    
Matthew 11:25-30

Jesus is portrayed in today’s Gospel as a new and greater Moses.

Moses, the meekest man on earth (see Numbers 12:3), was God’s friend (see Exodus 34:12,17). Only he knew God “face to face” (see Deuteronomy 34:10). And Moses gave Israel the yoke of the Law, through which God first revealed himself and how we are to live (see Jeremiah 2:20; 5:5).

Jesus too is meek and humble. But He is more than God’s friend. He is the Son who alone knows the Father. He is more also than a law-giver, presenting himself today as the yoke of a new Law, and as the revealed Wisdom of God.

As Wisdom, Jesus was present before creation as the firstborn of God, the Father and Lord of heaven and earth (see Proverbs 8:22; Wisdom 9:9). And He gives knowledge of the holy things of the kingdom of God (see Wisdom 10:10).

In the gracious will of the Father, Jesus reveals these things only to the “childlike”—those who humble themselves before Him as little children (see Sirach 2:17). These alone can recognize and receive Jesus as the just savior and meek king promised to daughter Zion, Israel, in today’s First Reading.

We too are called to childlike faith in the Father’s goodness, as sons and daughters of the new kingdom, the Church.

We are to live by the Spirit we received in baptism (see Galatians 5:16), putting to death our old ways of thinking and acting, as Paul exhorts in today’s Epistle. Our “yoke” is to be His new law of love (see John 13:34), by which we enter into the “rest” of His kingdom.

As we sing in today’s Psalm, we joyously await the day when we will praise His name forever in the kingdom that lasts for all ages. This is the sabbath rest promised by Jesus—first anticipated by Moses (see Exodus 20:8-11), but which still awaits the people of God (see Hebrews 4:9).

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Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

2 Kgs 4:8–11, 14–16  

Ps 89:2–3,16–19
Rom 6:3–4,8–11  

Mt 10:37–42

 

The Liturgy this week continues to instruct us in the elements of discipleship. We’re told that even the most humble among us have a share in the mission Christ gives to His Church.

We’re not all called to the ministry of the Apostles, or to be prophets like Elisha in today’s First Reading. But each of us is called to a holy life (see 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:3).

At Baptism our lives were joined forever to the cross of Christ, as Paul tells us in today’s Epistle. Baptized into His death, we’re to renounce sin and live for God in Christ Jesus.

We are to follow Him, each of us taking up our personal cross, as Jesus says in today’s Gospel. That doesn’t mean we will all be asked to suffer a martyr’s death. But each of us is called to self-denial, to the offering of our lives in service of God’s plan.

Jesus must be elevated to first place in our lives—above even our closest bonds of kinship and love. By Baptism, we’ve been made part of a new family—the kingdom of God, the Church. We are to proclaim that kingdom with our lives, bringing our fathers and mothers, and all men and women to live as “little ones” under the fatherhood of God and the kingship of the Holy One.

We do this by opening our hearts and homes to the service of the Lord, following the Shunnamite woman’s example in today’s First Reading. As Jesus tells us, we’re to receive others—not only prophets, but also little children, the poor and the imprisoned—as we receive Christ himself (see Matthew 18:5; 25:31–46).

As we sing in today’s Psalm, we are to testify to His favors and kindness in our lives.

We’re to hold fast to the promise—that if we have died with Christ, we shall also live, that if we lose our lives for His sake, we shall find our reward, and walk forever in His countenance.

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Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 4:10pm EDT

Readings:

Jeremiah 20:10-13   

Psalm 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35
Romans 5:12-15  

Matthew 10:26-33

 

Our commitment to Christ will be put to the test.

We will hear whispered warnings and denunciations, as Jeremiah does in today’s First Reading. Even so-called friends will try to trap and trip us up.

For His sake we will bear insults and be made outcasts—even in our own homes, we hear in today’s Psalm.

As Jeremiah tells us, we must expect that God will challenge our faith in Him, and probe our minds and hearts, to test the depths of our love.

“Do not be afraid,” Jesus assures us three times in today’s Gospel.

Though He may permit us to suffer for our faith, our Father will never forget or abandon us. As Jesus assures us today, everything unfolds in His Providence, under His watchful gaze—even the falling of the tiniest sparrow to the ground. Each one of us is precious to Him.

Steadfast in this faith, we must resist the tactics of Satan. He is the enemy who seeks the ruin of our soul in Gehenna, or hell.

We are to seek God, as the Psalmist says. Zeal for the Lord’s house, for the heavenly kingdom of the Father, should consume us, as it consumed Jesus (see Jn 2:17). As Jesus bore the insults of those who blasphemed God, so should we (see Rm 15:3).

By the gracious gift of himself, Jesus bore the transgressions of the world, Paul tells us in today’s Epistle. In rising from the dead, He has shown us that God rescues the life of the poor, that He does not spurn His own when they are in distress. In His great mercy, He will turn toward us, as well. He will deliver us from the power of the wicked.

That is why we proclaim His name from the housetops, as Jesus tells us. That is why we sing praise and offer thanksgiving in every Eucharist. We are confident in Jesus’ promise—that we who declare our faith in Him before others will be remembered before our heavenly Father.

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Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 9:29am EDT

 

Readings:

Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14-16

Psalm 147:12-15, 19-20

1 Corinthians 10:16-17

John 6:51-58

The Eucharist is given to us as a challenge and a promise. That's how Jesus presents it in today's Gospel.

He doesn't make it easy for those who hear Him. They are repulsed and offended at His words. Even when they begin to quarrel, He insists on describing the eating and drinking of His flesh and blood in starkly literal terms.

Four times in today's reading, Jesus uses a Greek word - trogein - that refers to a crude kind of eating, almost a gnawing or chewing (see John 6:54,56,57,58).

He is testing their faith in His Word, as today's First Reading describes God testing Israel in the desert.

The heavenly manna was not given to satisfy the Israelites' hunger, as Moses explains. It was given to show them that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

In today's Psalm, too, we see a connection between God's Word and the bread of life. We sing of God filling us with "finest wheat" and proclaiming his Word to the world.

In Jesus, "the living Father" has given us His Word come down from heaven, made flesh for the life of the world.

Yet as the Israelites grumbled in the desert, many in today's Gospel cannot accept that Word. Even many of Jesus' own followers abandon Him after this discourse (see John 6:66). But His words are Spirit and life, the words of eternal life (see John 6:63,67).

In the Eucharist we are made one flesh with Christ. We have His life in us and have our life because of Him. This is what Paul means in today's Epistle when He calls the Eucharist a "participation" in Christ's body and blood. We become in this sacrament partakers of the divine nature (see 1 Peter 2:4).

This is the mystery of the faith that Jesus asks us believe. And He gives us His promise: that sharing in His flesh and blood that was raised from the dead, we too will be raised up on the last day.

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Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 2:00pm EDT

Readings:

Exodus 34:4-6, 8-9

Daniel 3:52-56

2 Corinthians 13:11-13

John 3:16-18

 

We often begin Mass with the prayer from today's Epistle: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you." We praise the God who has revealed himself as a Trinity, a communion of persons.

Communion with the Trinity is the goal of our worship - and the purpose of the salvation history that begins in the Bible and continues in the Eucharist and sacraments of the Church.

We see the beginnings of God's self-revelation in today's First Reading, as He passes before Moses and cries out His holy name.

Israel had sinned in worshipping the golden calf (see Exodus 32). But God does not condemn them to perish. Instead He proclaims His mercy and faithfulness to His covenant.

God loved Israel as His firstborn son among the nations (see Exodus 4:22). Through Israel - heirs of His covenant with Abraham - God planned to reveal himself as the Father of all nations (see Genesis 22:18).

The memory of God's covenant testing of Abraham - and Abraham's faithful obedience - lies behind today's Gospel.

In commanding Abraham to offer his only beloved son (see Genesis 22:2,12,16), God was preparing us for the fullest possible revelation of His love for the world.

As Abraham was willing to offer Isaac, God did not spare His own Son but handed Him over for us all (see Romans 8:32).

In this, He revealed what was only disclosed partially to Moses - that His kindness continues for a thousand generations, that He forgives our sin, and takes us back as His very own people (see Deuteronomy 4:20; 9:29).

Jesus humbled himself to die in obedience to God's will. And for this, the Spirit of God raised Him from the dead (see Romans 8:11), and gave Him a name above every name (see Philippians 2:8-10).

This is the name we glorify in today's Responsorial - the name of our Lord, the God who is Love (see 1 John 4;8,16).

Direct download: A_Trinity_2017.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 2:23pm EDT

 

Lecturas:

Éxodo 34, 4-6.8-9

Daniel 3, 52-56

2 Corintios 13, 11-13

Juan 3,16-18

Frecuentemente comenzamos la Misa con la oración tomada de la epístola de hoy: "La gracia de nuestro Señor Jesucristo, el amor del Padre y la comunión del Espíritu Santo estén con ustedes". Alabamos al Dios que se ha revelado a Sí mismo como Trinidad, como comunión de personas.

La comunión con la Trinidad es la meta de nuestra adoración  y el propósito de la historia de la salvación que comienza en la Biblia y continúa en la Eucaristía y en los sacramentos de la Iglesia.

En la primera lectura vemos los inicios de la autorevelación de Dios, cuando pasa frente a Moisés y proclama su nombre santo. Israel había pecado en adorar al becerro de oro (cf. Ex 32). Pero Dios no los condena a perecer, sino que proclama su misericordia y fidelidad a su alianza.

Dios amó a Israel como su primogénito entre las naciones (cf. Ex 4,22). Por medio de Israel -heredero de su alianza con Abraham-, Dios planeó revelarse como el Padre de todas las naciones (cf. Gn 22,18).

El recuerdo de la prueba de alianza que Dios pidió a Abraham -y la obediencia fiel de Abraham- es el trasfondo del Evangelio de este día. Al ordenarle a Abraham que le ofreciera su amado hijo único (cf, Gn 22,2.12.16), Dios nos estaba preparando para la más completa revelación de su amor por el mundo.  Así como Abraham estaba dispuesto a ofrecer a Isaac, Dios no perdonó a su propio Hijo, sino que lo entregó por todos nosotros (cf. Rm 8,32).

Con ello reveló lo que sólo a Moisés fue descubierto parcialmente, que su bondad perdura por mil generaciones, que perdona nuestro pecado y nos toma de vuelta como pueblo de su propiedad (cf. Dt 4,20; 9,29).

Jesús se humilló a sí mismo hasta morir en obediencia a la voluntad de Dios. Y por esto, el Espíritu de Dios lo levantó de la muerte (cf. Rm 8,11) y le dio un nombre que está sobre todo nombre (cf. Fl 2,8-10).

Ese es el nombre que glorificamos en el salmo de hoy: el nombre de nuestro Señor, el Dios que es Amor (cf. 1Jn 4,8.16).

Direct download: A_Trinity_Spn_2017.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:05pm EDT

 

 Readings:

Acts 2:1-11

Psalm 104:1,24,29-31,34

1 Corinthians 12:3-7,12-13

John 20:19-23

 

The giving of the Spirit to the new people of God crowns the mighty acts of the Father in salvation history.

The Jewish feast of Pentecost called all devout Jews to Jerusalem to celebrate their birth as God's chosen people, in the covenant Law given to Moses at Sinai (see Leviticus 23:15-21; Deuteronomy 16:9-11).

In today's First Reading the mysteries prefigured in that feast are fulfilled in the pouring out of the Spirit on Mary and the Apostles (see Acts 1:14).

The Spirit seals the new law and new covenant brought by Jesus, written not on stone tablets but on the hearts of believers, as the prophets promised (see 2 Corinthians 3:2-8; Romans 8:2).

The Spirit is revealed as the life-giving breath of the Father, the Wisdom by which He made all things, as we sing in today's Psalm. In the beginning, the Spirit came as a "mighty wind" sweeping over the face of the earth (see Genesis 1:2). And in the new creation of Pentecost, the Spirit again comes as "a strong, driving wind" to renew the face of the earth.

As God fashioned the first man out of dust and filled him with His Spirit (see Genesis 2:7), in today's Gospel we see the New Adam become a life-giving Spirit, breathing new life into the Apostles (see 1 Corinthians 15:45,47).

Like a river of living water, for all ages He will pour out His Spirit on His body, the Church, as we hear in today's Epistle (see also John 7:37-39).

We receive that Spirit in the sacraments, being made a "new creation" in Baptism (see 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15). Drinking of the one Spirit in the Eucharist (see 1 Corinthians 10:4), we are the first fruits of a new humanity - fashioned from out of every nation under heaven, with no distinctions of wealth or language or race, a people born of the Spirit.

Direct download: A_Pentecost_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 11:59am EDT