St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

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 that He 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).

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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.

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Acts 1:1–11
Psalm 47:2–3, 6–7, 8–9
Ephesians 1:17–23
Matthew 28:16–20

(In dioceses where Ascension is celebrated on Thursday, see also the reflection for the Seventh Sunday of Easter.)

In today’s First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, St. Luke gives the surprising news that there is more of the story to be told. The story did not end with the empty tomb, or with Jesus’ appearances to the Apostles over the course of forty days. Jesus’ saving work will have a liturgical consummation. He is the great high priest, and He has still to ascend to the heavenly Jerusalem, there to celebrate the feast in the true Holy of Holies.

The truth of this feast shines forth from the Letter to the Hebrews, where we read of the great high priest’s passing through the heavens, the sinless intercessor’s sacrifice on our behalf (see Hebrews 4:14–15).

Indeed, His intercession will lead to the Holy Spirit’s descent in fire upon the Church. Luke spells out that promise in the First Reading for the feast of the Ascension: “in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5). The Ascension is the preliminary feast that directs the Church’s attention forward to Pentecost. On that day, salvation will be complete; for salvation is not simply expiation for sins (that would be wonder enough), but it is something even greater than that. Expiation is itself a necessary precondition of our adoption as God’s children. To live that divine life we must receive the Holy Spirit. To receive the Holy Spirit we must be purified through Baptism.

The Responsorial Psalm presents the Ascension in terms familiar from the worship of the Jerusalem Temple in the days of King Solomon: “God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord” (Psalm 47). The priest-king takes his place at the head of the people, ruling over the nations, establishing peace.

The Epistle strikes a distinctively Paschal note. In the early Church, as today, Easter was the normal time for the baptism of adult converts. The sacrament was often called “illumination” or “enlightenment” because of the light that came with God’s saving grace (see, for example, Hebrews 10:32). Saint Paul, in his Letter to the Ephesians, speaks in terms of glory that leads to greater glories still, as Ascension leads to Pentecost: “May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened,” he writes, as he looks to the divinization of the believers. Their “hope” is “his inheritance among the holy ones,” the saints who have been adopted into God’s family and now rule with Him at the Father’s right hand.

This is the “good news” the Apostles are commissioned to spread—to the whole world, to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem—at the Ascension. It’s the good news we must spread today.

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Hechos 1,12–14
Salmo 27,1.4. 7–8
1 Pedro 4,13–16
Juan 17,1–11

La primera lectura inicia cuando Jesús ha sido llevado al cielo. Sus discípulos, incluyendo los Apóstoles y María regresan a la sala de arriba donde Él celebró su Última Cena (cf. Lc 22,12).

Ahí, se dedican de un corazón a la oración, esperando al Espíritu que Jesús prometió que vendría sobre ellos (cf. Hch 1,8).

La unidad de la Iglesia primitiva en Jerusalén es un signo de la unicidad por la que Cristo ora en el Evangelio de hoy. La Iglesia ha de ser comunión en la tierra, espejo de la gloriosa unión del Padre, del Hijo y del Espíritu Santo en la Trinidad.

Jesús ha proclamado el nombre de Dios a sus hermanos (cf. Hb 2,13; Sal 22,23). Los profetas habían predicho su revelación y una nueva alianza por la cual toda carne tendría el conocimiento del Señor (cf. Jr 31,33–34; Hab 2,14).

Por la nueva alianza hecha en su Sangre y recordada en cada Eucaristía, conocemos a Dios como nuestro Padre. Esa es la vida eterna que Jesús promete. Y esa es la luz y la salvación que cantamos en el Salmo de hoy.

Así como Dios hizo brillar la luz en medio de la oscuridad cuando comenzó el mundo, Él nos ha iluminado en el Bautismo, haciéndonos criaturas nuevas, dándonos el conocimiento de la gloria de Dios en el rostro de Cristo (cf. Hb 10,32; 2 Co 4,6).

Nuestra nueva vida es un don del “Espíritu de gloria” del que escuchamos en la epístola de hoy (cf. Jn 7,38–39). Hechos uno en su Nombre, se nos ha dado un nuevo nombre “cristianos”, calificativo utilizado sólo aquí y en dos lugares más de la Biblia (cf. Hch 11,26; 28). Hemos de glorificar a Dios a pesar de que seremos insultados y sufriremos por su Nombre.

Pero mientras compartimos sus sufrimientos, sabemos que venceremos (cf. Ap 3,12) y nos regocijaremos cuando su gloria sea revelada de nuevo. Y habitaremos en la casa del Señor todos los días de nuestra vida.

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Acts 1:12—14
Psalm 27:1, 4, 7—8
1 Peter 4:13—16
John 17:1—11

Jesus has been taken up into heaven as we begin today’s First Reading. His disciples—including the Apostles and Mary—return to the upper room where He celebrated the Last Supper (see Luke 22:12).

There, they devote themselves with one accord to prayer, awaiting the Spirit that He promised would come upon them (see Acts 1:8).

The unity of the early Church at Jerusalem is a sign of the oneness that Christ prays for in today’s Gospel. The Church is to be a communion on earth that mirrors the glorious union of Father, Son, and Spirit in the Trinity.

Jesus has proclaimed God’s name to His brethren (see Hebrews 2:12; Psalm 22:23). The prophets had foretold this revelation—a new covenant by which all flesh would have knowledge of the Lord (see Jeremiah 31:33–34; Habakkuk 2:14).

By the new covenant made in His blood and remembered in every Eucharist, we know God as our Father. This is the eternal life Jesus promises. And this is the light and salvation we sing of in today’s Psalm.

As God made light to shine out of darkness when the world began, He has enlightened us in Baptism, making us new creations (see 2 Corinthians 5:17), giving us knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (see Hebrews 10:32; 2 Corinthians 4:6).

Our new life is a gift of “the Spirit of glory,” we hear in today’s Epistle (see John 7:38–39). Made one in His name, we are given a new name—“Christians”—a name used only here and in two other places in the Bible (see Acts 11:16; 26:28). We are to glorify God, though we will be insulted and suffer because of this name.

But as we share in His sufferings, we know we will overcome (see Revelation 3:12) and rejoice when His glory is once more revealed. And we will dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of our lives.

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Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Acts 8:5–8, 14–17
Psalm 66:1–7, 16, 20
1 Peter 3:15–18
John 14:15–21

Jesus will not leave us alone. He won’t make us children of God in Baptism only to leave us “orphans,” He assures us in today’s Gospel (see Romans 8:14–17).

He asks the Father to give us His Spirit, to dwell with us and keep us united in the life He shares with the Father.

We see the promised gift of His Spirit being conferred in today’s First Reading.

The scene from Acts apparently depicts a primitive Confirmation rite. Philip, one of the first deacons (see Acts 6:5), proclaims the Gospel in the non-Jewish city of Samaria. The Samaritans accept the Word of God (see Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 2:13) and are baptized.

It remains for the Apostles to send their representatives, Peter and John, to pray and lay hands on the newly baptized—that they might receive the Holy Spirit. This is the origin of our sacrament of Confirmation (see Acts 19:5–6), by which the grace of Baptism is completed and believers are sealed with the Spirit promised by the Lord.

We remain in this grace so long as we love Christ and keep His commandments. And strengthened in the Spirit whom Jesus said would be our Advocate, we are called to bear witness to our salvation—to the tremendous deeds that God has done for us in the name of His Son.

In today’s Psalm, we celebrate our liberation. As He changed the sea into dry land to free the captive Israelites, Christ suffered that He might lead us to God, as we hear in today’s Epistle.

This is the reason for our hope—the hope that sustains us in the face of a world that cannot accept His truth, the hope that sustains us when we are maligned and defamed for His name’s sake.

Put to death in the flesh, He was brought to life in the Spirit, Paul tells us today. And as He himself promises: “Because I live, you will live.”

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Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Hechos 6, 1–7
Salmo 33, 1–2.4–5.18–19
1 Pedro 2, 4–9
Juan 14, 1–12

Por su muerte, resurrección y ascensión, Jesús ha ido delante de nosotros para prepararnos un lugar en la casa de su Padre.

La casa del Padre ya no es un templo hecho por manos humanas, sino la casa espiritual de la Iglesia, construida sobre la piedra viva del Cuerpo de Cristo.

Según lo que Pedro interpreta de las Escrituras en la epístola de hoy, Jesús es la “piedra” destinada al rechazo de los hombres pero también a convertirse en piedra angular de la morada de Dios en la tierra (cf. Sal 118,22; Is 8,14; 28,16).

Cada uno de nosotros está llamado a ser una piedra viva de la edificación de Dios (cf. 1Co 3,9.16). En este edificio del Espíritu estamos llamados a ser “santos sacerdotes” que ofrezcan a Dios “sacrificios espirituales” (o sea: todas nuestras oraciones, todo nuestro trabajo y todas nuestras intenciones). Esto es lo sublime de nuestra llamada como cristianos. Por esta razón, Cristo nos sacó de la oscuridad del pecado y de la muerte, como Moisés guió a los israelitas desde la esclavitud de Egipto.

La alianza de Dios con Israel hizo de él un pueblo real y sacerdotal, destinado a anunciar sus alabanzas (cf. Ex 19,6). Por nuestra fe en la nueva alianza de Cristo, hemos sido hechos herederos de esta raza escogida, llamados a glorificar al Padre en el templo de nuestro cuerpo (cf. 1 Co 6,19-20; Rm 12,1).

En la primera lectura de hoy, vemos como se edifica la casa espiritual de la Iglesia cuando los Apóstoles consagran siete diáconos, para que ellos (los Apóstoles) puedan dedicarse más de lleno al “ministerio de la Palabra”.

La Palabra de Dios es recta y todas sus obras son leales, cantamos en el salmo de hoy. Por tanto, podemos confiar en Jesús cuando invita a no preocuparnos nunca, sino más bien a creer que sus Palabra y sus obras vienen del Padre.

Su Palabra continúa su obra en el mundo por medio de la Iglesia; hoy vemos sus comienzos en Jerusalén. Está destinada a difundirse poderosamente (cf. Hch 19,20), y a convertirse en semilla no corruptible por la cual cada corazón nazca de nuevo (cf. 1 P 1,23).

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Acts 6:1–7
Psalm 33:1–2, 4–5, 18–19
1 Peter 2:4–9
John 14:1–12

By His death, Resurrection and Ascension, Jesus has gone ahead to prepare a place for us in His Father’s house.

His Father’s house is no longer a temple made by human hands. It is the spiritual house of the Church, built on the living stone of Christ’s body.

As Peter interprets the Scriptures in today’s Epistle, Jesus is the “stone” destined to be rejected by men but made the precious cornerstone of God’s dwelling on earth (see Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 8:14; 28:16).

Each of us is called to be a living stone in God’s building (see 1 Corinthians 3:9, 16). In this edifice of the Spirit, we are to be “holy priests” offering up “spiritual sacrifices”—all our prayer, work, and intentions—to God.

This is our lofty calling as Christians. This is why Christ led us out of the darkness of sin and death as Moses led the Israelites from bondage in Egypt.

God’s covenant with Israel made them a royal and priestly people who were to announce His praises (see Exodus 19:6). By our faith in Christ’s new covenant, we have been made heirs of this chosen race, called to glorify the Father in the temple of our bodies (see 1 Corinthians 6:19–20; Romans 12:1).

In today’s First Reading, we see the spiritual house of the Church being built up, as the Apostles consecrate seven deacons so they can devote themselves more fully to the “ministry of the Word.”

The Lord’s Word is upright and all His works trustworthy, we sing in today’s Psalm. So we can trust Jesus when He tells us never to be troubled, but to believe that His Word and works come from the Father.

His Word continues its work in the world through the Church. We see its beginnings today in Jerusalem. It is destined to spread with influence and power (see Acts 19:20), and to become the imperishable seed by which every heart is born anew (see 1 Peter 1:23).

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Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Acts 2:14, 36–41
Psalm 23:1–6
1 Peter 2:20–25
John 10:1–10

Easter’s empty tomb is a call to conversion.

By this tomb, we should know for certain that God has made Jesus both Lord and Messiah, as Peter preaches in today’s First Reading.

He is the “Lord,” the divine Son that David foresaw at God’s right hand (see Psalms 3; 110:1; 132:10–11; and Acts 2:34). And He is the Messiah that God had promised to shepherd the scattered flock of the house of Israel (see Ezekiel 34:11–14, 23; 37:24).

As we hear in today’s Gospel, Jesus is that Good Shepherd, sent to a people who were like sheep without a shepherd (see Mark 6:34; Numbers 27:16–17). He calls not only to the children of Israel, but to all those far off from Him—to whomever the Lord wishes to hear His voice.

The call of the Good Shepherd leads to the restful waters of Baptism, to the anointing oil of Confirmation, and to the table and overflowing cup of the Eucharist, as we sing in today’s Psalm.

Again on this Sunday in Easter, we hear His voice calling us His own. He should awaken in us the response of those who heard Peter’s preaching. “What are we to do?” they cried.

We have been baptized. But each of us goes astray like sheep, as we hear in today’s Epistle. We still need daily to repent, to seek forgiveness of our sins, to separate ourselves further from this corrupt generation.

We are called to follow in the footsteps of the Shepherd of our souls. By His suffering He bore our sins in His body to free us from sin. But His suffering is also an example for us. From Him we should learn patience in our afflictions, to hand ourselves over to the will of God.

Jesus has gone ahead, driven us through the dark valley of evil and death. His Cross has become the narrow gate through which we must pass to reach His empty tomb—the verdant pastures of life abundant.

Direct download: A_4_Easter_17.mp3
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Hechos 2,14.36–41
Salmo 23,1–6
1 Pedro 2,20–25
Juan 10,1–10

La tumba vacía de la pascua es una llamada a la conversión.

Por esa tumba tenemos la certeza de que verdaderamente Dios ha hecho a Jesús Señor y Mesías, como Pedro predica en la primera lectura de hoy.

El es el “Señor”, el hijo divino que David había contemplado a la derecha del Padre (cf. Sal 110,1.3; 132,10.11; Hch 2,34). Y es el Mesías que Dios había prometido para pastorear el rebaño disperso de la casa de Israel (cf. Ez 34,11–14.23; 37,24).

Como escuchamos en el Evangelio de hoy, Jesús es ese Buen Pastor enviado a quienes eran como ovejas sin pastor (cf. Mc 6,34; Nm 27,16–17). No sólo llama a los hijos de Israel, sino a todos aquellos que se encuentran lejos de Él, a quienes el Señor quiere que escuchen su voz.

La llamada del Buen Pastor conduce a las aguas tranquilas del Bautismo, a la unción de aceite de la Confirmación, y a la mesa y a la rebosante copa de la Eucaristía, como cantamos en el salmo de hoy.

En este domingo de pascua, nuevamente escuchamos la voz de Dios llamándonos “suyos”. Él debería despertar en nosotros la respuesta de quienes escucharon la predicación de Pedro: “¿Qué debemos hacer?”, gritaron.

Hemos sido bautizados. Pero cada uno de nosotros está descarriado como las ovejas de que escuchamos en la epístola de hoy. Cada día necesitamos aún arrepentirnos, buscar el perdón de nuestros pecados, apartarnos de esta generación corrupta.

Estamos llamados a seguir los pasos del Pastor de nuestras almas. Él, por su pasión, llevó nuestros pecados en su cuerpo para liberarnos del pecado. Pero su sufrimiento también es un ejemplo para nosotros. Debemos aprender de él a ser pacientes en nuestras aflicciones, y aceptar la voluntad de Dios.

Jesús ha ido por delante, conduciéndonos por el valle oscuro de la muerte y del pecado. Su cruz ha venido a ser la puerta angosta a través de la cual debemos pasar para alcanzar la tumba vacía: los verdes pastos de la vida en abundancia.

Direct download: A_4_Easter_Spn_17.mp3
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Acts 2:14, 22–28
Psalm 16:1–2, 5, 7–11
1 Peter 1:17–21
Luke 24:13–35

We should put ourselves in the shoes of the disciples in today’s Gospel. Downcast and confused, they’re making their way down the road, unable to understand all the things that have occurred.

They know what they’ve seen—a prophet mighty in word and deed. They know what they were hoping for—that He would be the redeemer of Israel. But they don’t know what to make of His violent death at the hands of their rulers.

They can’t even recognize Jesus as He draws near to walk with them. He seems like just another foreigner visiting Jerusalem for the Passover.

Note that Jesus doesn’t disclose His identity until they they describe how they found His tomb empty but “Him they did not see.” That’s how it is with us, too. Unless He revealed himself we would see only an empty tomb and a meaningless death.

How does Jesus make himself known at Emmaus? First, He interprets “all the Scriptures” as referring to Him. In today’s First Reading and Epistle, Peter also opens the Scriptures to proclaim the meaning of Christ’s death according to the Father’s “set plan”—foreknown before the foundation of the world.

Jesus is described as a new Moses and a new Passover lamb. He is the One of whom David sang in today’s Psalm—whose soul was not abandoned to corruption but was shown the path of life.

After opening the Scriptures, Jesus at table took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to the disciples—exactly what He did at the Last Supper (see Luke 22:14–20).

In every Eucharist, we reenact that Easte Sunday at Emmaus. Jesus reveals himself to us in our journey. He speaks to our hearts in the Scriptures. Then at the table of the altar, in the person of the priest, He breaks the bread.

The disciples begged him, “Stay with us.” So He does. Though He has vanished from our sight, in the Eucharist—as at Emmaus—we know Him in the breaking of the bread.

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Hechos 2, 14.22–28
Salmo 16, 1–2.5.7–11
1 Pedro 1, 17–21
Lucas 24, 13–35

Deberíamos ponernos en los zapatos de los discípulos que nos describe el Evangelio de hoy. Van por el camino tristes y cabizbajos, incapaces de comprender todo lo que había ocurrido.

Ellos saben lo que habían visto: un profeta grande en obras y palabras. Saben lo que esperaban de él: que sería el redentor de Israel. Pero no saben cómo interpretar su muerte violenta a manos de sus gobernantes.

Ni siquiera pueden reconocer a Jesús cuando se les acerca para caminar con ellos. Parece un extranjero más de los que visitan Jerusalén para la Pascua.

Llama la atención que Jesús no revela su identidad hasta que ellos describen cómo algunos de los discípulos encontraron la tumba vacía, “pero a Él no lo vieron”. Lo mismo pasa con nosotros. Si Él no se nos revelara, lo único que veríamos sería una tumba vacía y una muerte sin sentido.

¿Cómo se da a conocer Jesús en Emaús? Primero, interpreta “todas las Escrituras” que se refieren a Él. En la primera lectura y en la epístola de hoy, también Pedro abre las Escrituras para proclamar el significado de la muerte de Cristo, de acuerdo con el plan preparado por el Padre desde antes de la creación del mundo.

Jesús es descrito como el nuevo Moisés y el nuevo Cordero Pascual. Él es Aquel de quien David cantó en el salmo de hoy, cuya alma no fue abandonada a la corrupción; antes bien a ella le fue enseñado el camino de la vida.

Jesús, después de explicar las Escrituras, estando sentado a la mesa, tomó el pan, lo bendijo, lo partió y se lo dio a su discípulos; exactamente lo que había hecho en la Última Cena (cf. Lc 22, 14-20).

En cada Eucaristía reconstruimos la escena de aquel domingo de pascua en Emaús. Jesús se nos revela en nuestra jornada. Nos habla al corazón por medio de las Escrituras. Después, en la mesa del altar, en la persona del sacerdote, parte el pan.

Los discípulos le rogaron: “quédate con nosotros”. Y Él se quedó. En la Eucaristía, a pesar de que ya no lo vemos – como en Emaús- lo reconocemos al partir el pan.

Direct download: A_3_Easter_Spn_17.mp3
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Acts 2:42–47
Psalm 118:2–4, 13–15, 22–24
1 Peter 1:3–9
John 20:19–31

We are children of Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead. Through this wondrous sign of His great mercy, the Father of Jesus has given us new birth, as we hear in today’s Epistle.

Today’s First Reading sketches the “family life” of our first ancestors in the household of God (see 1 Peter 4:17). We see them doing what we still do—devoting themselves to the Apostles’ teaching, meeting daily to pray and celebrate “the breaking of the bread.”

The Apostles saw the Lord. He stood in their midst, showed them His hands and sides. They heard His blessing and received His commission—to extend the Father’s mercy to all peoples through the power and Spirit He conferred upon them.

We must walk by faith and not by sight, must believe and love what we have not seen (see 2 Corinthians 5:7). Yet the invisible realities are made present for us through the devotions the Apostles handed on.

Notice the experience of the risen Lord in today’s Gospel is described in a way that evokes the Mass.

Both appearances take place on a Sunday. The Lord comes to be with His disciples. They rejoice, listen to His Word, receive the gift of His forgiveness and peace. He offers His wounded body to them in remembrance of His Passion. And they know and worship Him as their Lord and their God.

Thomas’ confession is a vow of faith in the new covenant. As promised long before, in the blood of Jesus we can now know the Lord as our God and be known as His people (see Hosea 2:20–25).

This confession is sung in the heavenly liturgy (see Revelation 4:11). And in every Mass on earth we renew our covenant and receive the blessings Jesus promised for those who have not seen but have believed.

In the Mass, God’s mercy endures forever, as we sing in today’s Psalm. This is the day the Lord has made—when the victory of Easter is again made wonderful in our eyes.

Direct download: A_Divine_Mercy_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Acts 10:34, 37–43
Psalm 118:1–2, 16–17, 22–23
Colossians 3:1–4
John 20:1–9

Jesus is nowhere visible. Yet today’s Gospel tells us that Peter and John “saw and believed.”

What did they see? Burial shrouds lying on the floor of an empty tomb. Maybe that convinced them that He hadn’t been carted off by grave robbers, who usually stole the expensive burial linens and left the corpses behind.

But notice the repetition of the word “tomb”—seven times in nine verses. They saw the empty tomb and they believed what He had promised: that God would raise Him on the third day.

Chosen to be His “witnesses,” today’s First Reading tells us, the Apostles were “commissioned . . . to preach . . . and testify” to all that they had seen—from His anointing with the Holy Spirit at the Jordan to the empty tomb.

More than their own experience, they were instructed in the mysteries of the divine economy, God’s saving plan—to know how “all the prophets bear witness” to Him (see Luke 24:27,44).

Now they could “understand the Scripture,” could teach us what He had told them—that He was “the Stone which the builders rejected,” who, today’s Psalm prophesies, will be resurrected and
exalted. (see Luke 20:17; Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11).

We are the children of the apostolic witnesses. That is why we still gather early in the morning on the first day of every week to celebrate this feast of the empty tomb and give thanks for “Christ our life,” as today’s Epistle calls Him.

Baptized into His death and Resurrection, we live the heavenly life of the risen Christ, our lives “hidden with Christ in God.” We are now His witnesses, too. But we testify to things we cannot see but only believe; we seek in earthly things what is above.

We live in memory of the Apostles’ witness, like them eating and drinking with the risen Lord at the altar. And we wait in hope for what the Apostles told us would come—the day when we too “will appear with Him in glory.”

Direct download: A_Easter_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Isaiah 50:4–7
Psalm 22:8–9, 17–20, 23–24
Philippians 2:6–11
Matthew 26:14–27:66

“All this has come to pass that the writings of the prophets may be fulfilled,” Jesus says in today’s Gospel (see Matthew 26:56).

Indeed, we have reached the climax of the liturgical year, the highest peak of salvation history, when all that has been anticipated and promised is to be fulfilled.

By the close of today’s long Gospel, the work of our redemption will have been accomplished, the new covenant will be written in the blood of His broken body hanging on the cross at the place called the Skull.

In His Passion, Jesus is “counted among the wicked,” as Isaiah had foretold (see Isaiah 53:12). He is revealed definitively as the Suffering Servant the prophet announced, the long-awaited Messiah whose words of obedience and faith ring out in today’s First Reading and Psalm.

The taunts and torments we hear in these two readings punctuate the Gospel as Jesus is beaten and mocked (see Matthew 27:31), as His hands and feet are pierced, as enemies gamble for His clothes (see Matthew 27:35), and as His enemies dare Him to prove His divinity by saving Himself from suffering (see Matthew 27:39–44).

He remains faithful to God’s will to the end, does not turn back in His trial. He gives Himself freely to His torturers, confident that, as He speaks in today’s First Reading: “The Lord God is My help. . . . I shall not be put to shame.”

Destined to sin and death as children of Adam’s disobedience, we have been set free for holiness and life by Christ’s perfect obedience to the Father’s will (see Romans 5:12–14, 17–19; Ephesians 2:2; 5:6).

This is why God greatly exalted Him. This is why we have salvation in His Name. Following His example of humble obedience in the trials and crosses of our lives, we know we will never be forsaken. We know, as the centurion today, that truly this is the Son of God (see Matthew 27:54).

Direct download: A_Passion_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Ezekiel 37:12–14
Psalm 130:1–8
Romans 8:8–11
John 11:1–45

As we draw near to the end of Lent, today’s Gospel clearly has Jesus’ passion and death in view.

That’s why John gives us the detail about Lazarus’ sister, Mary—that she is the one who anointed the Lord for burial (see John 12:3, 7). His disciples warn against returning to Judea; Thomas even predicts they will “die with Him” if they go back.

When Lazarus is raised, John notices the tombstone being taken away, as well as Lazarus’ burial cloths and head covering—all details he later notices with Jesus’ empty tomb (see John 20:1, 6, 7).

Like the blind man in last week’s readings, Lazarus represents all humanity. He stands for “dead man”—for all those Jesus loves and wants to liberate from the bands of sin and death.

John even recalls the blind man in his account today (see John 11:37). Like the man’s birth in blindness, Lazarus’ death is used by Jesus to reveal “the glory of God” (see John 9:3). And again like last week, Jesus’ words and deeds give sight to those who believe (see John 11:40).

If we believe, we will see—that Jesus loves each of us as He loved Lazarus, that He calls us out of death and into new life.

By His Resurrection Jesus has fulfilled Ezekiel’s promise in today’s First Reading. He has opened the graves that we may rise, put His Spirit in us that we may live. This is the Spirit that Paul writes of in today’s Epistle. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will give life to we who were once dead in sin.

Faith is the key. If we believe as Martha does in today’s Gospel—that Jesus is the resurrection and the life—even if we die, we will live.

“I have promised and I will do it,” the Father assures us in the First Reading. We must trust in His word, as we sing in today’s Psalm—that with Him is forgiveness and salvation.

Direct download: A_5_Lent_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13
Psalm 23:1-6
Ephesians 5:8-14
John 9:1-41

God’s ways of seeing are not our ways, we hear in today’s First Reading. Jesus illustrates this in the Gospel—as the blind man comes to see and the Pharisees are made blind.

The blind man stands for all humanity. “Born totally in sin” he is made a new creation by the saving power of Christ.

As God fashioned the first man from the clay of the earth (see Genesis 2:7), Jesus gives the blind man new life by anointing his eyes with clay (see John 9:11). As God breathed the spirit of life into the first man, the blind man is not healed until he washes in the waters of Siloam, a name that means “sent.”

Jesus is the One “sent” by the Father to do the Father’s will (see John 9:4; 12:44). He is the new source of life-giving water—the Holy Spirit who rushes upon us in Baptism (see John 4:10; 7:38–39).

This is the Spirit that rushes upon God’s chosen king David in today’s First Reading. A shepherd like Moses before him (see Exodus 3:1; Psalm 78:70–71), David is also a sign pointing to the good shepherd and king to come—Jesus (see John 10:11).

The Lord is our shepherd, as we sing in today’s Psalm. By His death and Resurrection He has made a path for us through the dark valley of sin and death, leading us to the verdant pastures of the kingdom of life, the Church.

In the restful waters of Baptism He has refreshed our souls. He has anointed our heads with the oil of Confirmation and spread the Eucharistic table before us, filling our cups to overflowing.

With the once-blind man we enter His house to give God the praise, to renew our vow: “I do believe, Lord.”

“The Lord looks into the heart,” we hear today. Let Him find us, as Paul advises in today’s Epistle, living as “children of light”—trying always to learn what is pleasing to our Father.

Direct download: A_4_Lent_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Exodus 17:3–7
Psalm 95:1–2, 6–9
Romans 5:1–2, 5–8
John 4:5–15, 19–26, 39–42

The Israelites’ hearts were hardened by their hardships in the desert.

Though they have seen His mighty deeds, in their thirst they grumble and put God to the test in today’s First Reading—a crisis point recalled also in today’s Psalm.

Jesus is thirsty, too, in today’s Gospel. He thirsts for souls (see John 19:28). He longs to give the Samaritan woman the living waters that well up to eternal life.

These waters couldn’t be drawn from the well of Jacob, father of the Israelites and the Samaritans, but Jesus was something greater than Jacob (see Luke 11:31–32).

The Samaritans were Israelites who escaped exile when Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom eight centuries before Christ (see 2 Kings 17:6, 24–41). They were despised for intermarrying with non-Israelites and worshipping at Mount Gerazim, not Jerusalem.

But Jesus tells the woman that the “hour” of true worship is coming, when all will worship God in Spirit and truth.

Jesus’ “hour” is the “appointed time” that Paul speaks of in today’s Epistle. It is the hour when the Rock of our salvation was struck on the Cross. Struck by the soldier’s lance, living waters flowed out from our Rock (see John 19:34–37).

These waters are the Holy Spirit (see John 7:38–39), the gift of God (see Hebrews 6:4).

By the living waters the ancient enmities of Samaritans and Jews have been washed away, the dividing wall between Israel and the nations is broken down (see Ephesians 2:12–14, 18). Since His hour, all may drink of the Spirit in Baptism (see 1 Corinthians 12:13).

In this Eucharist, the Lord now is in our midst—as He was at the Rock of Horeb and at the well of Jacob.

In the “today” of our Liturgy, He calls us to believe: “I am He,” come to pour out the love of God into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. How can we continue to worship as if we don’t understand? How can our hearts remain hardened?

Direct download: A_3_Lent_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Éxodo 17,3–7
Salmo 95,1–2.6–9
Romanos 5,1–2.5–8
Juan 4,5–15.19–26.39–42

Los corazones de los israelitas fueron endurecidos por las pruebas en el desierto.

Aunque habían visto las proezas de Dios, cuando estaban sedientos murmuraron contra Él y lo pusieron a prueba, según nos dice la primera lectura de hoy. El salmo recuerda también ese momento de crisis.

También Jesús tiene sed en el Evangelio de hoy. Está sediento de almas (cf. Jn 19,28). Anhela dar a la samaritana las aguas vivas que brotan hasta la vida eterna.

Esas aguas no podían sacarse del pozo de Jacob, padre de los israelitas y también de los samaritanos. Pero Jesús es mayor que Jacob (cf. Lc 11,31–32).

Los samaritanos eran israelitas que escaparon del exilio cuando Asiría conquistó el Reino del Norte, ocho siglos antes de Cristo (cf. 2R 17,6; 24–41). Fueron despreciados por casarse con no-israelitas y por rendir culto en el monte Garizim, no en Jerusalén.

Pero Jesús le dice a la mujer que ha llegado “la hora” del auténtico culto, cuando todos adorarán a Dios en Espíritu y en verdad.

La “hora” de Jesús es el “tiempo señalado” del que San Pablo habla en la Epístola de hoy. Es la hora en la que la Roca de nuestra salvación fue golpeada en la Cruz. Herida por la lanza del soldado, de nuestra Roca brotaron aguas vivas (cf. Jn 19,34–37).

Esa agua es el Espíritu Santo (cf. Jn 7,38–39), don de Dios (cf. Hb 6,4).

Por las aguas vivas, se ha lavado la antigua enemistad entre samaritanos y judíos; se ha derrumbado la muralla entre Israel y las naciones (cf. Ef 2,12–14.18). Desde la llegada de la hora del Señor, todos pueden beber del Espíritu en el bautismo (cf. 1 Co 12,13).

En esta Eucaristía el Señor está en medio de nosotros, como lo estaba en la roca del Horeb y en el pozo de Jacob.

En el “hoy” de nuestra liturgia, nos llama a creer que Él es Aquel que ha venido a derramar el amor de Dios en nuestros corazones por medio del Espíritu Santo. ¿Cómo podemos seguir rindiendo culto como si no entendiéramos esto?¿Cómo podemos seguir con nuestros corazones endurecidos?

Direct download: A_3_Lent_Spn_17.mp3
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Genesis 12:1-4
Psalm 33:4-5,18-20, 22
2 Timothy 1:8-10
Matthew 17:1-9

Today’s Gospel portrays Jesus as a new and greater Moses.

Moses also took three companions up a mountain and on the seventh day was overshadowed by the shining cloud of God’s presence. He too spoke with God and his face and clothing were made radiant in the encounter (see Exodus 24, 34).

But in today’s Lenten Liturgy, the Church wants us to look back past Moses. Indeed, we are asked to contemplate what today’s Epistle calls God’s “design . . . from before time began.”

With His promises to Abram in today’s First Reading, God formed the people through whom He would reveal himself and bestow His blessings on all humanity.

He later elevated these promises to eternal covenants and changed Abram’s name to Abraham, promising that he would be father of a host of nations (see Genesis 17:5). In remembrance of His covenant with Abraham He raised up Moses (see Exodus 2:24; 3:8), and later swore an everlasting kingdom to David’s sons (see Jeremiah 33:26).

In Jesus’ transfiguration today, He is revealed as the One through whom God fulfills His divine plan from of old.

Not only a new Moses, Jesus is also the “beloved son” promised to Abraham and again to David (see Genesis 22:15–18; Psalm 2:7; Matthew 1:1).

Moses foretold a prophet like him to whom Israel would listen (see Deuteronomy 18:15, 18) and Isaiah foretold an anointed servant in whom God would be well-pleased (see Isaiah 42:1). Jesus is this prophet and this servant, as the Voice on the mountain tells us today.

By faith we have been made children of the covenant with Abraham (see Galatians 3:7–9; Acts 3:25). He calls us, too, to a holy life, to follow His Son to the heavenly homeland He has promised. We know, as we sing in today’s Psalm, that we who hope in Him will be delivered from death.

So like our father in faith, we go forth as the Lord directs us: “Listen to Him!”

Direct download: A_2_Lent_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Génesis 12,1–4
Salmo 33,4–5.18–20.22
2 Timoteo 1,8–10
Mateo 17,1–9

El Evangelio de hoy retrata a Jesús como un nuevo y más grande Moisés.

También Moisés tomó tres acompañantes, subió con ellos al monte y al día setenta fue eclipsado por la nube brillante de la presencia de Dios. También él habló con Dios y su cara y ropas se hicieron radiantes en ese encuentro (cf. Ex 24,34).

Pero en la liturgia cuaresmal de hoy, la Iglesia quiere que miremos hacia atrás, más allá de Moisés. Más aún, nos invita a contemplar lo que la epístola de hoy llama: “el designio … desde antes de todos los siglos”.

Dios, con las promesas que hace a Abrán en la primera lectura de hoy, formó el pueblo por medio del cual Él se revelaría a sí mismo y concedería sus bendiciones a toda la humanidad.

Más tarde, Dios elevó sus promesas a alianzas eternas y cambió el nombre de Abrán por Abrahán, prometiéndole que sería padre de una multitud de naciones (cf. Gn 17,5). En recuerdo de su alianza con Abrahán, hizo surgir a Moisés (cf. Ex 2,24; 3,8), y más adelante juró un reino eterno a los hijos de David (cf. Jr 33,26).

En la transfiguración de Jesús que leemos hoy, Él se revela como Aquel en quien Dios cumple su plan divino, trazado desde antiguo.

Jesús no es sólo un nuevo Moisés, sino el “hijo amado” prometido a Abrahán y prometido nuevamente a David (cf. Gn 22,15–18; Sal 2,7; Mt 1,1).

Moisés predijo que vendría un profeta como él a quien Israel escucharía (cf. Dt 18,15–18); e Isaías, un siervo ungido en quien Dios estaría complacido (cf. Is 42,1). Jesús es ese profeta y siervo, como la Voz en el monte nos dice el día de hoy.

Por la fe hemos sido hechos hijos de la alianza hecha con Abrahán (cf. Ga 3,7–9; Hch 2,25). También a nosotros Él nos llama a la santidad, a seguir a su Hijo hacia la patria celestial que nos ha prometido. Sabemos, como cantamos en el salmo de hoy, que quienes esperamos en Él seremos librados de la muerte.

Por tanto, como nuestro padre en la fe, debemos seguir adelante mientras el Señor nos dice: “¡Escúchenlo!”.

Direct download: A_2_Lent_Spn_17.mp3
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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

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

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 EDT

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.

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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.

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Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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).

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Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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).

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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.”

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Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT