St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

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: 12:00pm EDT

Lecturas:
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.

Direct download: A_7_Easter_Spn_17.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Readings:
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.

Direct download: A_7_Easter_2017.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Readings:

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.

Direct download: BTB_-_Ascension_SBR.mp3
Category:general -- 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.”

Direct download: Year_A_Easter_6.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Readings:
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).

Direct download: A_5_Easter17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Lecturas:
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).

Direct download: EASTER_SP.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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