St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

Readings:
Revelation 7:2–4, 9–14
Psalm 24:1–6
John 3:1–3
Matthew 5:1–12

The first reading focuses us for today’s solemnity. In the Book of Revelation, St. John reports “a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue.”

This is Good News. Salvation has come not only for Israel, but for the Gentiles as well. Here is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, that by his seed all the nations of the world would bless themselves (see Genesis 22:18).

The Church celebrates many famous Christians on their individual memorials, but today she praises God for all His “holy ones,” His saints. That is the title St. Paul preferred when he addressed his
congregations.

Divinized by Baptism, they were already “saints” by the grace of God (see Colossians 1:2). They awaited, however, the day when they could “share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:12).

And so do we, as the Scriptures give us reasons for both celebration and hope. In our second reading, St. John tells us that to be “saints” means to be “children of God”—and then he adds: “so we are”! Note that he speaks in the present tense.

Yet John also says that we have unfinished business to tend. We are already God’s children, but “what we shall be has not yet been revealed.” Thus we work out our salvation: “Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure” (1 John 3:3).

We do this as we share the life of Christ, who defined earthly beatitude for us. We are “blessed,” He says, when we are poor, when we mourn, when we are persecuted for His sake. It is then we should “Rejoice and be glad, for [our] reward will be great in heaven” (Matthew 5:12).

Until then, we pray with the Psalmist: “Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.” Salvation has come through Abraham’s seed, but it belongs to all nations. For “the Lord’s are the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it” (Psalm 24:1).

Direct download: Solemnity_of_All_Saints.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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

Jesus came not to abolish the Old Testament law but to fulfill it (see Matthew 5:17). And in today’s Gospel, He reveals that love—of God and of neighbor—is the fulfillment of the whole of the law (see Romans 13:8–10).

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

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

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

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

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

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

Direct download: Breaking_the_Bread_30th_Sunday_Reflection.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Direct download: A_30_Ordinary_Spn.mp3
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Readings:
Isaiah 45:1,4–6
Psalm 96:1,3–5, 7–10
1 Thessalonians 1:1–5
Matthew 22:15–21

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

In effect, God says to every ruler what He tells King Cyrus in today’s First Reading: “I have called you . . . though you knew me not.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Direct download: Breaking_the_Bread_29th_Sunday_Reflection.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Direct download: A_29_Ordinary_Spn.mp3
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Readings:
Isaiah 25:6–10
Psalm 23:1–6
Philippians 4:12–14, 19–20
Matthew 22:1–14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Direct download: Breaking_the_Bread_28th_Sunday_Reflection.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Direct download: A_28_Ordinary_Spn.mp3
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