Letters From Home

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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.

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Lecturas:
Hechos 1, 15-17, 20-26
Salmo 103, 1-2, 11-12, 19-20
1 Juan 4, 11-16
Juan 17, 11-19

La primera lectura de hoy está enmarcada en los acontecimientos que suceden entre los días después de la Ascensión del Señor y Pentecostés. Estamos en el mismo punto en el calendario litúrgico. Este jueves celebramos la Ascensión del Señor en gloria y el otro domingo celebraremos el envío del Espíritu Santo sobre la Iglesia.

La oración de Jesús que escuchamos en el evangelio expresa sentimientos de despedida y a la vez de espera de Pentecostés. Nos dice cómo serán las cosas cuando él ya no esté físicamente entre nosotros.

Por su Ascensión, el Señor está sentado en su trono en el Cielo, como menciona el salmo responsorial. Su Reino, la Iglesia, continúa su misión en la tierra.

Jesús ha configurado su Reino como una Nueva Jerusalén y como una nueva casa de David (cfr. S 122,4-5; Ap 21, 9-14). Él entregó este reino a los apóstoles, quienes presidirán la mesa Eucarística y que “juzgarán a las doce tribus de Israel” (Cfr. Lc 22, 29-30).

Los doce apóstoles simbolizan las doce tribus y, por tanto, cumplen el plan de Dios para Israel (Cfr. Ga 6,16). Por esto era imprescindible sustituir a Judas Iscariote, de modo que la Iglesia en plenitude recibiera el Espíritu Santo en Pentecostés.

El liderazgo de San Pedro es otro elemento clave en la Iglesia, destacado en estas lecturas dominicales. Muestran a Pedro ejerciendo una autoridad incuestionable. Él interpreta las escrituras, él decide como actuar; incluso define la naturaleza del mismo ministerio apostólico.

“A Dios nadie le ha visto nunca” dice la Epístola de este domingo. Sin embargo, a través de la Iglesia fundada sobre los apóstoles, testigos de la resurrección, el mundo conocerá y creerá en el amor de Dios, quien envió a su Hijo para ser Nuestro Salvador.

Por medio de la Iglesia, la promesa de Jesús llega hasta nosotros: Si amamos, Dios estará con nosotros en nuestras pruebas y nos protegerá del Maligno. Con su Palabra de verdad, nos ayudará crecer en santidad, a alcanzar la perfección en el amor.

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Readings:
Acts 1:15–17, 20–26
Psalm 103:1–2, 11–12, 19–20
1 John 4:11–16
John 17:11–19

(In dioceses where Ascension is celebrated on Sunday, see the reflection for The Ascension of the Lord.)

Today’s First Reading begins by giving us a time frame—the events take place during the days between Christ’s Ascension and Pentecost. We’re at the same point in our liturgical year. On Thursday we celebrated His being taken up in glory, and next Sunday we will celebrate His sending of the Spirit upon the Church.

Jesus’ prayer in the Gospel today also captures the mood of departure and the anticipation. He is telling us today how it will be when He is no longer in the world.

By His Ascension, the Lord has established His throne in heaven, as we sing in today’s Psalm. His kingdom is His Church, which continues His mission on earth.

Jesus fashioned His kingdom as a new Jerusalem and a new house of David (see Psalm 122:4–5; Revelation 21:9–14). He entrusted this kingdom to His Twelve Apostles, who were to preside at the
Eucharistic table, and to rule with Him over the restored twelve tribes of Israel (see Luke 22:29–30).

The Twelve Apostles symbolize the twelve tribes and hence the fulfillment of God’s plan for Israel (see Galatians 6:16). That’s why it is crucial to replace Judas—so that the Church in its fullness receives the Spirit at Pentecost.

Peter’s leadership of the Apostles is another key element of the Church as it is depicted today. Notice that Peter is unquestionably in control, interpreting the Scriptures, deciding a course of action, even defining the nature of the apostolic ministry.

No one has ever seen God, as we hear in today’s Epistle. Yet, through the Church founded on His Apostles, the witnesses to the resurrection, the world will come to know and believe in God’s love, that He sent His Son to be our savior.

Through the Church, Jesus’ pledge still comes to us—that if we love, God will remain with us in our trials and protects us from the evil one. By His word of truth He will help us grow in holiness, the perfection of love.

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Readings:
Acts 10:25–26, 34–35, 44–48
Psalm 98:1–4
1 John 4:7–10
John 15:9–17

God is love, and He revealed that love in sending His only Son to be a sacrificial offering for our sins.

In these words from today’s Epistle, we should hear an echo of the story of Abraham’s offering of Isaac at the dawn of salvation history. Because Abraham obeyed God’s command and did not withhold his only beloved son, God promised that Abraham’s descendants, the children of Israel, would be the source of blessing for all nations (see Genesis 22:16–18).

We see that promise coming to fulfillment in today’s First Reading. God pours out His Spirit upon the Gentiles, the non-Israelites, as they listen to the word of Peter’s preaching. Notice they receive the same gifts received by the devout Jews who heard Peter’s preaching at Pentecost—the Spirit comes to rest upon them and they speak in tongues, glorifying God (see Acts 2:5–11).

In His love today, God reveals that His salvation embraces the house of Israel and peoples of all nations. Not by circumcision or blood relation to Abraham but by faith in the Word of Christ, sealed in the Sacrament of Baptism, people are to be made children of Abraham, heirs to God’s covenants of promise (see Galatians 3:7–9; Ephesians 2:12).

This is the wondrous work of God that we sing of in today’s Psalm. It is the work of the Church, the good fruit that Jesus chooses and appoints His Apostles for in today’s Gospel.

As Peter raises up Cornelius today, the Church continues to lift all eyes to Christ, the only one in whose name they can find salvation.

In the Church, each of us has been begotten by the love of God. But the Scriptures today reveal that this divine gift brings with it a command and a duty. We are to love one another as we have been loved. We are to lay down our lives in giving ourselves to others—that they too might find friendship with Christ and new life through Him.

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Readings:
Acts 9:26–31
Psalm 22:26–28, 30–32
1 John 3:18–24
John 15:1–8

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that He is the true vine that God intended Israel to be—the source of divine life and wisdom for the nations (see Sirach 24:17–24).

In Baptism, each of us was joined to Him by the Holy Spirit. As a branch grows from a tree, our souls are to draw life from Him, nourished by His word and the Eucharist.

Paul in today’s First Reading seeks to be grafted onto the visible expression of Christ the true vine—His Church. Once the chief persecutor of the Church, Paul encounters initial resistance and suspicion. But he is known by his fruits, by his powerful witness to the Lord working in his life (see Matthew 7:16–20).

We too are commanded today to bear good fruits as His disciples so that our lives give glory to God. Like Paul’s life, our lives must bear witness to His goodness.

Jesus cautions us, however, that if we’re bearing fruit, we can expect that God will “prune” us—as a gardener trims and cuts back a plant so that it will grow stronger and bear even more fruit. He is teaching us today how to look at our sufferings and trials with the eyes of faith. We need to see our struggles as pruning, by which we are being disciplined and trained so that we can grow in holiness and bear fruits of righteousness (see Hebrews 12:4–11).

We need to always remain rooted in Him, as today’s Epistle tells us. We remain in Him by keeping His commandment of love, by pondering His words, letting them dwell richly in us (see Colossians 3:16), and by always seeking to do what pleases Him. In everything we must be guided by humility, remembering that apart from Him we can do nothing.

As we sing in today’s Psalm, we must fulfill our vows, turning to the Lord in worship, proclaiming his praises, until all families come to know His justice in their lives.

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Readings:
Acts 4:8–12
Psalm 118:1, 8–9, 21–23, 26, 29
1 John 3:1–2
John 10:11–18

Jesus, in today’s Gospel, says that He is the good shepherd the prophets had promised to Israel.

He is the shepherd-prince, the new David—who frees people from bondage to sin and gathers them into one flock, the Church, under a new covenant, made in His blood (see Ezekiel 34:10–13, 23–31).

His flock includes other sheep, He says, far more than the dispersed children of Israel (see Isaiah 56:8; John 11:52). And He gave His Church the mission of shepherding all peoples to the Father.

In today’s First Reading, we see the beginnings of that mission in the testimony of Peter, whom the Lord appointed shepherd of His Church (see John 21:15–17).

Peter tells Israel’s leaders that the Psalm we sing today is a prophecy of their rejection and crucifixion of Christ. He tells the “builders” of Israel’s temple that God has made the stone they rejected the cornerstone of a new spiritual temple, the Church (see Mark 12:10–13; 1 Peter 2:4–7).

Through the ministry of the Church, the shepherd still speaks (see Luke 10:16), and forgives sins (see John 20:23), and makes His body and blood present, that all may know Him in the breaking of the bread (see Luke 24:35). It is a mission that will continue until all the world is one flock under the one shepherd.

In laying down His life and taking it up again, Jesus made it possible for us to know God as He did—as sons and daughters of the Father who loves us. As we hear in today’s Epistle, He calls us His children, as He called Israel His son when He led them out of Egypt and made His covenant with them (see Exodus 4:22–23; Revelation 21:7).

Today, let us listen for His voice as He speaks to us in the Scriptures, and vow again to be more faithful followers. And let us give thanks for the blessings He bestows from His altar.

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Readings:
Acts 3:13–15, 17–19
Psalm 4:2, 4, 7–9
1 John 2:1–5
Luke 24:35–48

Jesus in today’s Gospel teaches His apostles how to interpret the Scriptures.

He tells them that all the Scriptures of what we now call the Old Testament refer to Him. He says that all the promises found in the Old Testament have been fulfilled in His Passion, death, and Resurrection. And He tells them that these Scriptures foretell the mission of the Church—to preach forgiveness of sins to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

In today’s First Reading and Epistle, we see the beginnings of that mission. And we see the apostles interpreting the Scriptures as Jesus taught them to.

God has brought to fulfillment what He announced beforehand in all the prophets, Peter preaches. His sermon is shot through with Old Testament images. He evokes Moses and the Exodus, in which
God revealed himself as the ancestral God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (see Exodus 3:6, 15). He identifies Jesus as Isaiah’s suffering servant who has been glorified (see Isaiah 52:13).

John, too, describes Jesus in Old Testament terms. Alluding to how Israel’s priests offered blood sacrifices to atone for the people’s sins (see Leviticus 16; Hebrews 9–10), he says that Jesus intercedes for us before God (see Romans 8:34), and that His blood is a sacrificial expiation for the sins of the world (see 1 John 1:7).

Notice that in all three readings, the Scriptures are interpreted to serve and advance the Church’s mission—to reveal the truth about Jesus, to bring people to repentance, the wiping away of sins, and the perfection of their love for God.

This is how we, too, should hear the Scriptures. Not to know more “about” Jesus, but to truly know Him personally, and to know His plan for our lives.

In the Scriptures, the light of His face shines upon us, as we sing in today’s Psalm. We know the wonders He has done throughout history. And we have the confidence to call to Him, and to know that He hears and answers.

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Lecturas:
Hechos 3,13-15, 17-19
Salmo 4,2, 4, 7-9
1 Juan 2, 1-5
Lucas 24, 35-48

En el evangelio de hoy, Jesús les enseña a los discípulos cómo interpretar los textos sagrados.

Les comenta que todas las Escrituras lo que hoy nosotros llamamos el Antiguo Testamento se refieren a Él. Les dice que todas las promesas ahí contenidas se han cumplido en su pasión, muerte y resurrección. Y les afirma que estas Escrituras profetizan la misión de la Iglesia – el predicar el perdón de los pecados a todos los pueblos, empezando en Jerusalén.

En la primera y segunda lectura de este día, vemos el inicio de esta misión. Y a los apóstoles interpretando las Escrituras como les enseñó Jesús.

San Pedro en su predicación dice que Dios ha llevado a su cumplimiento lo que había anunciado antes por medio de los profetas. Su discurso está lleno de imágenes del Antiguo Testamento. Evoca a Moisés y al éxodo, en el que Dios se reveló a sí mismo como el Antiguo Dios de Abrahán, de Isaac y de Jacob (véase Éxodo 3,6, 15). Identifica a Jesús como el siervo sufriente de Isaías que has sido glorificado (véase Isaías 2,13).

También Juan ocupa imágenes del Antiguo Testamento para describir a Jesús. Haciendo alusión a los sacrificios de sangre que ofrecieron los sacerdotes de Israel en expiación por los pecados del pueblo, (véase Levítico 16, Hebreos 9-10), dice que Jesús intercede por nosotros ante Dios (véase Romanos 8,34) y que su sangre es un sacrificio de expiación por los pecados del mundo (véase 1 Juan 1,17).

Es notable que las tres lecturas, las Escrituras son interpretadas para servir a la misión de la Iglesia- de revelar la verdad sobre Jesús, llevar al pueblo al arrepentimiento, borrar los pecados, y perfeccionar su amor a Dios.

Así es como nosotros deberíamos escuchar las Escrituras. No solo para conocer más sobre Jesús, sino para experimentarlo personalmente y descubrir el plan que tiene para nuestras vidas.

En la Biblia, la luz de su rostro brilla sobre nosotros, como cantamos en el salmo de hoy. Conocemos las maravillas que ha hecho en la historia. Por eso tenemos la confianza de acudir a Él, sabiendo que nos escucha y nos responde.

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Readings:
Acts 4:32–35
Psalms 118:2–4, 13–15, 22–24
1 John 5:1–6
John 20:19–31

Three times in today’s Psalm we cry out a victory shout: “His mercy endures forever.”

Truly we’ve known the everlasting love of God, who has come to us as our Savior. By the blood and water that flowed from Jesus’ pierced side (see John 19:34), we’ve been made God’s children, as we hear in today’s Epistle.

Yet we never met Jesus, never heard Him teach, never saw Him raised from the dead. His saving Word came to us in the Church—through the ministry of the apostles, who in today’s Gospel are sent as
He was sent.

He was made a life-giving Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 15:45) and He filled His apostles with that Spirit. As we hear in today’s First Reading, they bore witness to His resurrection with great power. And through their witness, handed down in the Church through the centuries, their teaching and traditions have reached us (see Acts 2:42).

We encounter Him as the apostles did—in the breaking of the bread on the Lord’s day (see Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Revelation 1:10).

There is something liturgical about the way today’s Gospel scenes unfold. It’s as if John is trying to show us how the risen Lord comes to us in the liturgy and sacraments.

In both scenes it is Sunday night. The doors are bolted tight, yet Jesus mysteriously comes. He greets them with an expression, “Peace be with you,” used elsewhere by divine messengers (see Daniel 10:19; Judges 6:23). He shows them signs of His real bodily presence. And on both nights the disciples respond by joyfully receiving Jesus as their “Lord.”

Isn’t this what happens in the Mass—where our Lord speaks to us in His Word, and gives himself to us in the sacrament of His body and blood?

Let us approach the altar with joy, knowing that every Eucharist is the day the Lord has made—when the victory of Easter is again made wonderful in our eyes.

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Lecturas:
Hechos 4, 32-35
Salmo 118, 2-4, 13-15, 22-24
1 Juan 5, 1-6
Juan 20, 19-31

Tres veces en el Salmo de hoy gritamos victoriosos, “La misericordia de Dios es eterna.” En verdad hemos conocido el amor eterno de Dios, quien ha venido a nosotros como Salvador. Por la sangre y agua que fluyeron de su costado traspasado (véase Juan 19,34), hemos sido hechos hijos e hijas de Dios, como lo dice la epístola de hoy.

Pero nunca conocimos a Jesús en persona, ni lo escuchamos predicar, ni lo vimos resucitar de entre los muertos. Su palabra de salvación vino a nosotros en la Iglesia- por medio del ministerio de los apóstoles, quienes en el evangelio de hoy son enviados así como Él fue enviado.

Él fue un Espíritu que da vida (véase 1 Corintios 15,45) y llena a sus apóstoles de ese Espíritu. Como escuchamos en la primera lectura de hoy, ellos dieron testimonio de su resurrección con gran poder. Por medio de su testimonio, transmitido a la Iglesia a través de los siglos, sus enseñanzas y tradiciones llegan a nosotros (véase Hechos 2,42).

Encontramos al Señor así como los apóstoles lo encontraron- al partir el pan en el día del Señor (véase Hechos 20,7; 1 Corintios 16,2; Apocalipsis 1,10).

Hay algo litúrgico de la manera en que los acontecimientos del evangelio de hoy se desenvuelven. Es como si Juan nos estuviese demostrando como es que el Señor resucitado viene a nosotros en la liturgia y los sacramentos. Ambas escenas ocurren en un domingo al atardecer. Las puertas están cerradas con seguro pero aun así, Jesús entra misteriosamente. Los saluda, “La paz esté con ustedes,” siendo el saludo de todo mensajero divino (véase Daniel 10,19; Jueces 6,23). Les demuestra pruebas de su presencia física. Y en ambas noches los discípulos responden con alegría al recibir a Jesús como su “Señor”.

Acaso ¿no es esto lo que sucede en cada Misa—donde Nuestro Señor nos habla con su Palabra y nos da a sí mismo en el sacramento de su cuerpo y sangre?

Acerquémonos pues al altar con alegría, sabiendo que cada Eucaristía es el día que Dios ha hecho—cuando la victoria de la Pascua es una maravilla para nuestros ojos.

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

The tomb was empty. In the early morning darkness of that first Easter, there was only confusion for Mary Magdalene and the other disciples. But as the daylight spread, they saw the dawning of a new creation.

At first they didn’t understand the Scripture, today’s Gospel tells us. We don’t know which precise Scripture texts they were supposed to understand. Perhaps it was the sign of Jonah, who rose from the belly of the great fish after three days (see Jonah 1:17). Or maybe Hosea’s prophecy of Israel’s restoration from exile (see Hosea 6:2). Perhaps it was the psalmist who rejoiced that God had not abandoned him to the netherworld (see Psalm 16:9–10).

Whichever Scripture it was, as the disciples bent down into the tomb, they saw and they believed. What did they see? Burial shrouds in an empty tomb. The stone removed from the tomb. Seven times
in nine verses we hear that word—“tomb.”

What did they believe? That God had done what Jesus said He would do—raised Him up on the third day (see Mark 9:31; 10:34).

What they saw and believed they bore witness to, as today’s First Reading tells us. Peter’s speech is a summary of the gospels—from Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan t His hanging on a tree (see Deuteronomy 21:22–23), to His rising from the dead.

We are children of the apostles, born into the new world of their witness. Our lives are now “hidden with Christ in God,” as today’s Epistle says. Like them, we gather in the morning on the first day of the week —to celebrate the Eucharist, the feast of the empty tomb.

We rejoice that the stones have been rolled away from our tombs, too. Each of us can shout, as we do in today’s Psalm: “I shall not die, but live.” They saw and believed. And we await the day they promised would come—when we, too, “will appear with Him in glory.”

 

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Lecturas :
Hechos 10,34.37-43
Salmo 118,1-2.16-17.22-23
Colosenses 3,1-4
Juan 20,1-9

El sepulcro estaba vacío. En la obscuridad del amanecer en ese primer domingo de pascua, reinaba la confusión en María Magdalena y los discípulos. Pero al crecer el resplandor del sol pudieron ver el amanecer de una nueva creación.

Al principio, no comprendían lo que decían las Escrituras, según el evangelio de hoy. No sabemos exactamente cuales Escrituras eran las que debiesen comprender. Tal vez era la señal de Jonás, quien sale del vientre del pez al tercer día (véase Jonás 1,17). O quizá la profecía de Oseas de la restauración de Israel después del exilio (véase Oseas 6,2). Tal vez era el salmista quien regocijaba al no lo ser abandonado por Dios a la sepultura (Salmo 16, 9-10).

Cualquiera que fuese la Escritura, al asomarse los discípulos al sepulcro, ellos vieron y creyeron. ¿Qué fue lo que vieron? Los lienzos en el piso y el sepulcro vacío. La piedra removida del sepulcro. Siete veces en nueve versículos escuchamos la palabra “sepulcro.”

¿Qué fue lo que creyeron? Que Dios hizo lo que Jesús dijo que iba a hacer—de resucitarlo al tercer día (véase Marcos 9,31; 10,34).

A lo que vieron y creyeron, dieron testimonio según la primera lectura. El discurso de Pedro es una síntesis de los evangelios—desde el bautismo de Jesús en el Jordán hasta terminar colgado en la cruz (Deuteronomio 21,22-23), y por fin a su resurrección de entre los muertos.

Somos hijos de los apóstoles, nacidos a un mundo nuevo de su testimonio. Nuestras vidas ahora están “escondidas con Cristo en Dios,” como nos dice la epístola de hoy. Así como ellos, nos reunimos en la mañana del primer día de la semana- para celebrar la Eucaristía, la fiesta del sepulcro vacío.

Regocijamos que las piedras han sido removidas también de nuestros sepulcros. Cada uno podemos exclamar como en el Salmo, “No moriré, sino que viviré.” Ellos vieron y creyeron. Y nosotros esperamos el día que se nos ha prometido que vendrá—cuando nosotros también nos “veremos con Él en la gloria.”

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Readings:
Isaiah 50:4–7
Psalm 22:8–9, 17–20, 23–24
Philippians 2:6–11
Mark 14:1–15:47

Crowned with thorns, our Lord is lifted up on the Cross, where He dies as “King of the Jews.” Notice how many times He is called “king” in today’s Gospel—mostly in scorn and mockery.

As we hear the long accounts of His Passion, at every turn we must remind ourselves—He suffered this cruel and unusual violence for us.

He is the Suffering Servant foretold by Isaiah in today’s First Reading. He reenacts the agony described in today’s Psalm, and even dies with the first words of that Psalm on His lips (see Psalm 22:1).

Listen carefully for the echoes of this Psalm throughout today’s Gospel—as Jesus is beaten, His hands and feet are pierced; as His enemies gamble for His clothes, wagging their heads, mocking His faith in God’s love, His faith that God will deliver Him.

Are we that much different from our Lord’s tormenters? Often, don’t we deny that He is King, refusing to obey His only commands that we love Him and one another? Don’t we render Him mock tribute, pay Him lip service with our half-hearted devotions?

In the dark noon of Calvary, the veil in Jerusalem’s temple was torn. It was a sign that by His death Jesus destroyed forever the barrier separating us from the presence of God.

He was God and yet humbled Himself to come among us, we’re reminded in today’s Epistle. And despite our repeated failures, our frailty, Jesus still humbles Himself to come to us, offering us His body and blood in the Eucharist.

His enemies never understood: His kingship isn’t of this world (see John 18:36). He wants to write His law, His rule of life on our hearts and minds.

As we enter Holy Week, let us once more resolve to give Him dominion in our lives. Let us take up the cross He gives to us—and confess with all our hearts, minds, and strength that truly this is the Son of God.

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Lecturas:
Isaías 50,4–7
Salmo 22,8–9, 17–20, 23–24
Filipenses 2,6–11
Marcos 14, 1–15, 47

“Ha llegado a su cumplimiento lo que está escrito de mí”, nos dice Jesús en el Evangelio de hoy (cfr. Lc 22,37).

De hecho, hemos alcanzado el clímax del año litúrgico, el punto más elevado de la historia de la salvación, en el que se cumple todo aquello que había sido anticipado y prometido.

Al terminar el extenso Evangelio del día de hoy, la obra de nuestra redención quedará completa. La nueva alianza será escrita con la sangre de su Cuerpo quebrantado que cuelga de la cruz, en el sitio llamado “la Calavera”.

En su Pasión, Jesús es “contado entre los malhechores”, como Isaías lo había predicho (cfr. Is 53,12). Es revelado definitivamente como el Siervo Sufriente anunciado por el profeta; el Mesías tan esperado cuyas palabras de fe y obediencia se escuchan en la primera lectura y el salmo de hoy.

Las burlas y tormentos que escuchamos en estas dos lecturas marcan el paso del Evangelio en que Jesús, que es golpeado y mofado (cfr. Lc 22,63–65; 23,10.11.16), y cuyas manos y pies son taladrados (cfr. Lc 23,33), mientras sus enemigos se juegan sus vestiduras (cfr. Lc 23,34) y es retado tres veces a probar su divinidad librándose del sufrimiento (cfr. Lc 23,35.37.39).

Permanece fiel a la voluntad de Dios hasta el final; no retrocede ante su prueba. Se entrega libremente a sus torturadores, confiado en lo que nos dice la primera lectura de hoy: “el Señor es mi ayuda…no quedaré avergonzado”.

Nosotros, hijos de Adán destinados al pecado y a la muerte, hemos sido liberados para la santidad y la vida mediante la obediencia perfecta de Cristo a la voluntad del Padre (cfr. Rm 5,12–14.17.19; Ef 2,2; 5,6).

Por este motivo Dios lo exaltó. Por eso, en su Nombre tenemos la salvación. Al seguir su ejemplo de obediencia humilde en las pruebas y cruces de nuestras vidas, sabemos que nunca seremos abandonados; y que un día también estaremos con Él en el paraíso (cfr. Lc 23,42).

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Readings:
Jeremiah 31:31–34
Psalm 51:3–4, 12–13, 14–15
Hebrews 5:7–9
John 12:20–33

Our readings today are filled with anticipation. The days are coming, Jeremiah prophesies in today’s First Reading. The hour has come, Jesus says in the Gospel. The new covenant that God promised to Jeremiah is made in the “hour” of Jesus—in His Death, Resurrection, and Ascension to the Father’s right hand.

The prophets said this new covenant would return Israel’s exiled tribes from the ends of the world (see Jeremiah 31:1, 3–4, 7–8). Jesus too predicted His passion would gather the dispersed children of God (see John 11:52). But today He promises to draw to Himself not only Israelites, but all men and women.

The new covenant is more than a political or national restoration. As we sing in today’s Psalm, it is a universal spiritual restoration. In the “hour” of Jesus, sinners in every nation can return to the Father—to be washed of their guilt and given new hearts to love and serve Him.

In predicting He will be “lifted up,” Jesus isn’t describing only His coming Crucifixion (see John 3:14–15). Isaiah used the same word to tell how the Messiah, after suffering for Israel’s sins, would be raised high and greatly exalted (see Isaiah 52:3). Elsewhere the term describes how kings are elevated above their subjects (see 1 Maccabees 8:13).

Troubled in His agony, Jesus doesn’t pray to be saved. Instead, as we hear in today’s Epistle, He offers himself to the Father on the Cross—as a living prayer and supplication. For this, God gives Him dominion over heaven and earth (see Acts 2:33; Philippians 2:9).

Where He has gone we can follow—if we let Him lead us. To follow Jesus means hating our lives of sin and selfishness. It means trusting in the Father’s will, the law He has written in our hearts. Jesus’ “hour” continues in the Eucharist, where we join our sacrifices to His, giving God our lives in reverence and obedience—confident He will raise us up to bear fruits of holiness.

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Lecturas:
Jeremías 31, 31-34
Salmo 51, 3-4, 12-15
Hebreos 5, 7-9
Juan 12, 20-33

Las lecturas este domingo están llenas de expectativas. “Los días que vienen…”, dice el profeta Jeremías en la primera lectura. “La hora ha venido” dice Jesús en el Evangelio. La Nueva Alianza que Dios prometió a Jeremías se cumple en la “hora” de Jesús: en su muerte, resurrección, y ascensión a la derecha del Padre.

Los profetas predijeron que con esta Nueva Alianza regresarían, de todos los rincones de la tierra, las exiliadas tribus de Israel (cfr. Je 31,1.3.4.7.8). Jesús profetizó también que su Pasión reuniría a los hijos dispersos de Dios (Jn 11,52). Sin embargo, en el Evangelio de este domingo Jesús promete que atraerá hacia Sí no sólo a los israelitas, sino a todos los hombres y mujeres (Jn 12, 32).

La Nueva Alianza es mucho más que una reivindicación política o nacional. Como cantamos en el salmo, es una restauración espiritual universal. En la “hora” de Jesús, los pecadores de todas la naciones pueden regresar al Padre para ser lavados de su culpa y recibir corazones nuevos para amarle y servirle.

Jesús, al decir que será “levantado”, no está aludiendo solamente a su crucifixión ya próxima (cfr. Jn 3,14-15). Isaías usa la misma expresión para describir cómo el Mesías, después de sufrir por los pecados de Israel, sería levantado y grandemente exaltado (Is 52,2). En otra parte, el término se refiere a cómo como los reyes serían elevados sobre sus súbditos (cfr. 1M 8,13).

Jesús, durante su agonía, no oró para ser salvado. Más bien, según leemos en la epístola de este domingo, se ofreció a sí mismo al Padre en la cruz como súplica viviente. Por ello, Dios le dio potestad sobre el cielo y la tierra (Hch 2,33; Flp 2,9).

A donde ha ido podemos seguirle, si nos dejamos guiar por Él. Seguir a Jesús significa odiar el pecado y el egoísmo presentes en nuestra vida. Quiere decir confiar en la voluntad del Padre: en la ley que Él ha escrito en nuestros corazones.

La “hora” de Jesús continúa en la Eucaristía, donde unimos nuestros sacrificios al Suyo, entregando nuestras vidas a Dios como acto de reverencia y obediencia, confiando en que él nos elevará para que demos frutos de santidad.

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Readings:
2 Chronicles 36:14–16, 19–23
Psalms 137:1–6
Ephesians 2:4–10
John 3:14–21

The Sunday readings in Lent have been showing us the high points of salvation history—God’s covenant with creation in the time of Noah; His promises to Abraham; the law He gave to Israel at Sinai.

In today’s First Reading, we hear of the destruction of the kingdom established by God’s final Old Testament covenant—the covenant with David (see 2 Samuel 7; Psalm 89:3).

His chosen people abandoned the law He gave them. For their sins, the temple was destroyed, and they were exiled in Babylon. We hear their sorrow and repentance in the exile lament we sing as today’s Psalm.

But we also hear how God, in His mercy, gathered them back, even anointing a pagan king to shepherd them and rebuild the temple (see Isaiah 44:28–45:1, 4).

God is rich in mercy, as today’s Epistle teaches. He promised that David’s kingdom would last forever, that David’s son would be His Son and rule all nations (see 2 Samuel 7:14–15; Psalm 2:7–9). In Jesus, God keeps that promise (see Revelation 22:16).

Moses lifted up the serpent as a sign of salvation (see Wisdom 16:6–7; Numbers 21:9). Now Jesus is lifted up on the Cross, to draw all people to Himself (see John 12:32).

Those who refuse to believe in this sign of the Father’s love condemn themselves—as the Israelites in their infidelity brought judgment upon themselves.

But God did not leave Israel in exile, and He does not want to leave any of us dead in our transgressions. We are God’s handiwork, saved to live as His people in the light of His truth.

Midway through this season of repentance, let us again behold the Pierced One (see John 19:37) and rededicate ourselves to living the “good works” that God has prepared us for.

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Lecturas:
2 Crónicas 36,14-17, 19-23;
Salmo 137,1-6;
Efesios 2,4-10;
Juan 3,14-21

Las lecturas dominicales del tiempo cuaresmal nos han mostrado los momentos fundamentales de la historia de salvación: La alianza de Dios con la creación en el tiempo de Noé; la promesa que hizo a Abraham, la Ley que Él dio a Israel en el Sinaí.

En la primera lectura de este domingo, se nos habla de la destrucción del reino establecido en la última alianza del Antiguo Testamento, la de Dios con el rey David (cf. 2S 7; Sal 89,3).

El pueblo escogido por Dios abandonó la Ley que Él le había dado. Por sus pecados, el Templo de Salomón fue destruido y el pueblo exiliado a Babilonia.

Escuchamos su tristeza y arrepentimiento en la lamentación sobre el exilio que entonamos en el salmo.

Pero escuchamos cómo Dios, en su misericordia, reúne a su pueblo nuevamente, unge a un rey pagano para pastorearlo y reconstruye el Templo (cf. Is 44,28-45,1.4).

Sí, Dios es rico en misericordia, como enseña la epístola a los Efesios. Había prometido que el reino de David duraría para siempre, que el hijo de David sería su Hijo y gobernaría las naciones (cf. 2 S 7,14-15; Sal 2, 7-9).

En Jesús, Dios cumplió esta promesa (cf. Ap 22,16).

Moisés levantó una serpiente como signo de salvación (cf. Sb 16,6-7; Nm 21,9). Hoy Jesús es levantado en la cruz para atraer a todos hacia Él. (cf. Jn 12,32).

Los que se niegan a creer en este signo de amor del Padre se condenan a sí mismos, como les sucedió a los Israelitas en su infidelidad.

Pero Dios no dejó a Israel en el exilio y no quiere dejar a ninguno de nosotros morir en sus pecados. Somos la obra de su mano y hemos sido salvados para vivir en la luz de su verdad.

Cuando hemos llegado a la mitad de este camino de arrepentimiento cuaresmal, miremos “al que traspasaron” (Jn 19,37) y dediquémonos de nuevo a vivir las buenas obras que el Señor nos ha llamado a hacer.

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Lecturas:
Éxodo 20,1–17
Salmo 19, 8–11
1 Corintios 1, 22–25
Juan 2, 13–25

Jesús no viene para destruir la tradición que el Templo representa, sino para “darle cumplimiento” (cf. Mt 5,17); es decir, para revelar su verdadero significado dentro del plan de salvación de Dios.

El es el Señor de quien los profetas dijeron que vendría a purificar el Templo, echando afuera a los comerciantes y haciéndolo “casa de oración para todos los pueblos” (cf. Za 14,21; Ml 3,1–5; Is 56,7).

El Dios, que hizo los cielos y la tierra, que sacó a Israel de la esclavitud de Egipto, “no habita en casas fabricadas por manos humanas” (cf. Hch 7,48; 2S 7,6). Ni necesita sacrificios de novillos, ni ovejas ni palomas (cf. Sal 50,7–13).

En la primera lectura de este domingo es importante constatar que, en un principio, Dios no pedía sacrificios de animales, sino solo que Israel obedeciera sus mandamientos (cf. Jr 7,21–23; Am 5, 25).

Su ley fue un regalo de la sabiduría divina, como cantamos en el salmo. Es una Ley de Amor (cf. Mt 22, 36–40), expresada perfectamente en la entrega que Cristo hizo de sí mismo en la cruz (cf. Jn 15,13).

Este es el “signo” que Jesús ofrece en el evangelio: signo que fue “escándalo” para los líderes de los judíos, como dice San Pablo en la epístola.

El cuerpo de Jesús, destruido en la cruz y resucitado tres días después, es el Nuevo y verdadero Santuario. Desde el templo de su cuerpo salen ríos de agua viva, el Espíritu de gracia que hace de cada uno de nosotros un templo (cf. 1 Co 3,16) y nos constituye en morada de Dios (cf. Ef 2, 22).

Nosotros, en la Eucaristía, participamos en el ofrecimiento de su Cuerpo y Sangre. Este es el culto “en espíritu y verdad” que desea el Padre (cf. Jn 4, 23–24).

La alabanza es nuestro mejor sacrificio (cf. Sal 50,14.23). Esto consiste en imitar a Cristo “ofreciendo nuestros cuerpos”; es decir, todas nuestras intenciones y acciones por amor a Dios y al prójimo (Hb 10,5–7; Rom 12,1; 1P 2,5).

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Readings:
Exodus 20:1–17
Psalm 19:8–11
1 Corinthians 1:22–25
John 2:13–25

Jesus does not come to destroy the temple, but to fulfill it (see Matthew 5:17)—to reveal its true purpose in God’s saving plan.

He is the Lord the prophets said would come—to purify the temple, banish the merchants, and make it a house of prayer for all peoples (see Zechariah 14:21; Malachi 3:1–5; Isaiah 56:7).

The God who made the heavens and the earth, who brought Israel out of slavery, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands (see Acts 7:48; 2 Samuel 7:5).

Nor does He need offerings of oxen, sheep, or doves (see Psalm 50:7–13).

Notice in today’s First Reading that God did not originally command animal sacrifices—only that Israel heed His commandments (see Jeremiah 7:21–23; Amos 5:25).

His law was a gift of divine wisdom, as we sing in today’s Psalm. It was a law of love (see Matthew 22:36–40), perfectly expressed in Christ’s self-offering on the Cross (see John 15:13).

This is the “sign” Jesus offers in the Gospel today—the sign that caused Jewish leaders to stumble, as Paul tells us in the Epistle.

Jesus’ body—destroyed on the Cross and raised up three days later—is the new and true sanctuary. From the temple of His body, rivers of living water flow, the Spirit of grace that makes each of us a temple (see 1 Corinthians 3:16) and together builds us into a dwelling place of God (see Ephesians 2:22).

In the Eucharist we participate in His offering of His body and blood. This is the worship in Spirit and in truth that the Father desires (see John 4:23–24).

We are to offer praise as our sacrifice (see Psalm 50:14, 23). This means imitating Christ—offering our bodies—all our intentions and actions in every circumstance, for the love of God and the love of others (see Hebrews 10:5–7; Romans 12:1; 1 Peter 2:5).

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Beginning on March 1, the Sunday Bible Reflections will be upgraded to the Daily Bible Reflections. Scott Hahn will continue to provide his scriptural insight into the Sunday mass readings, but the St. Paul Center will also provide you with more biblical scholarship on the daily mass readings, featuring such Bible scholars as Dr. John Bergsma, Professor Curtis Mitch, Rob Corzine, and Becket Ghioto.

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Lecturas:
Génesis 22,1–2, 9–13, 15–18;
Salmo 116,10, 15–19;
Romanos 8, 31–34;
Marcos 9, 2–10

El tiempo de cuaresma continúa con otra narración sobre una prueba. El domingo pasado leímos las tentaciones de Jesús en el desierto.

La primera lectura de este domingo habla sobre la prueba de Abraham. La Iglesia siempre ha visto en esta historia un signo del amor de Dios, que “entregó a su Hijo único” (cf. Jn 3,16).

En la epístola, San Pablo menciona que Dios, como Abraham (cf, Gn 22,16) “no perdonó a su propio Hijo, antes bien le entregó por todos nosotros” (Rm 8, 32).

El evangelio retoma esa figura. Jesús es llamado “el Hijo Amado” de Dios, así como Isaac es descrito como el amado hijo único de Abraham (cf. Gn 22, 2)

Estas lecturas se nos dan en la cuaresma para revelarnos la identidad de Cristo y para fortalecernos frente a nuestras tribulaciones.

Jesús es mostrado como el verdadero hijo, al que Abraham se regocijó en contemplar (cf. Mt 1,1; Jn 8, 56).

En su transfiguración, Jesús manifiesta ser “el profeta como Moisés” prometido por Dios — suscitado de entre el Pueblo de Dios — que habla con la autoridad del mismo Señor (cf. Dt 18,15.19).

Como Moisés, Jesús también sube a la montaña con tres amigos, cuyos nombres hallamos en el texto y ve la gloria de Dios en una nube (cf. Ex 24,1.9.15).

Jesús es El que fue profetizado, El que habría de venir después del regreso de Elías (cf. Si 48, 9–10; Ml 3,1, 23–24).

Además, como Él mismo lo revela a sus apóstoles, Jesús es el Hijo del Hombre enviado a sufrir y morir por nuestros pecados (cf. Is 53,3).

Como cantamos en el salmo de este domingo, Jesús creyó aún en el momento de su aflicción y Dios lo liberó de los lazos de la muerte (cf. Sal 116, 3).

Su resurrección debe darnos el valor para enfrentar nuestras pruebas y ofrecernos totalmente al Padre, como lo hizo El y como lo hicieron Abraham e Isaac.

Liberados de la muerte por Su muerte, hemos venido a esta Misa a ofrecer un sacrificio de acción de gracias y a renovar nuestras promesas como sus siervos fieles.

Direct download: B_2_Lent_Spn.mp3
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Readings:
Genesis 22:1–2, 9–13, 15–18
Psalm 116:10, 15–19
Romans 8:31–34
Mark 9:2–10

The Lenten season continues with another story of testing. Last Sunday, we heard the trial of Jesus in the desert. In this week’s First Reading, we hear of how Abraham was put to the test.

The Church has always read this story as a sign of God’s love for the world in giving His only-begotten son.

In today’s Epistle, Paul uses exact words drawn from this story to describe how God, like Abraham, did not withhold His only Son, but handed Him over for us on the Cross (see Romans 8:32; Genesis 22:12,16).

In the Gospel today, too, we hear another echo. Jesus is called God’s “beloved Son”—as Isaac is described as Abraham’s beloved son.

These readings are given to us in Lent to reveal Christ’s identity and to strengthen us in the face of our afflictions.

Jesus is shown to be the true son that Abraham rejoiced to see (see Matthew 1:1; John 8:56). In His transfiguration, He is revealed to be the “prophet like Moses” foretold by God—raised from among their own kinsmen, speaking with God’s own authority (see Deuteronomy 18:15, 19).

Like Moses, He climbs the mountain with three named friends and beholds God’s glory in a cloud (see Exodus 24:1, 9, 15). He is the one prophesied to come after Elijah’s return (see Sirach 48:9–10; Malachi 3:1, 23–24).

And, as He discloses to the Apostles, He is the Son of Man sent to suffer and die for our sins (see Isaiah 53:3).

As we sing in today’s Psalm, Jesus believed in the face of His afflictions, and God loosed Him from the bonds of death (see Psalm 116:3).

His rising should give us the courage to face our trials, to off er ourselves totally to the Father—as He did, as Abraham and Isaac did.

Freed from death by His death, we come to this Mass to offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and to renew our vows—as His servants and faithful ones.

Direct download: B_2_Lent.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Lecturas:
Génesis 9, 8-15;
Salmo 25, 4-9;
1 Pedro 3, 18-22;
Marcos 1, 12-15

La cuaresma nos invita a regresar a la inocencia del bautismo.

En la epístola de este domingo, San Pedro nos recuerda que, así como Noé y su familia fueron preservados de las aguas del diluvio, también nosotros somos salvados por las aguas del bautismo.

El pacto de Dios con Noé, que leemos en la primera lectura, marcó el inicio de un nuevo mundo; más aún, prefiguró una nueva y más importante alianza entre el Creador y su creación (cf. Os 2,20; Is 11,1-9).

En el evangelio podemos ver el comienzo de esta Nueva Alianza y esta nueva creación. Jesús es presentado como el nuevo Adán – el hijo amado de Dios (cf. Mc 1, 11; Lc 3, 38), que vive en armonía con las bestias salvajes y es servido por los ángeles (cf. Gn 2, 19-20; Ez 28, 12-14).

Jesús es tentado por el diablo, al igual que Adán. Sin embargo, a diferencia de éste, que con su caída provocó el dominio del pecado y de la muerte en el mundo (cf. Rm 5,12-14,17-20), Cristo vence a Satanás.

En esto consiste la Buena Nueva, el “evangelio de Dios” que Él proclama. Por su muerte, resurrección y entronización a la diestra del Padre, el mundo se vuelve otra vez reino de Dios.

En las aguas del Bautismo, cada uno de nosotros entró en el reino del Hijo Amado de Dios (cf. Col 1, 13-14). Por medio de él fuimos hechos hijos de Dios, criaturas nuevas (cf. 2 Co 5,7; Ga 4, 3-7).

Sin embargo, como Jesús, e Israel antes que Él, hemos sido bautizados sólo para ser conducidos al desierto: a un mundo lleno de aflicciones y pruebas para nuestra fidelidad (cf. 1 Co 10,1-4,9,13; Dt 8, 2,16).

En esta peregrinación – purificación Jesús es nuestro guía. Él es el Salvador, el Camino y la Verdad que cantamos en el salmo de este domingo (cf. Jn 14,6).

Nos da el pan de los ángeles (cf. Sal 78,25; Sb 16,20) y lava nuestras culpas en el sacramento de reconciliación. Por tanto, comencemos este tiempo santo renovando nuestros votos bautismales arrepintiéndonos y creyendo el evangelio.

Direct download: B_1_Lent_Spn.mp3
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Readings:
Genesis 9:8–15
Psalm 25:4–9
1 Peter 3:18–22
Mark 1:12–15

Lent bids us to return to the innocence our baptism. As Noah and his family were saved through the waters of the deluge, we were saved through the waters of Baptism, Peter reminds us in today’s Epistle.

And God’s covenant with Noah in today’s First Reading marked the start of a new world. But it also prefigured a new and greater covenant between God and His creation (see Hosea 2:20; Isaiah 11:1–9).

We see that new covenant and that new creation begin in today’s Gospel.

Jesus is portrayed as the new Adam—the beloved son of God (see Mark 1:11; Luke 3:38), living in harmony with the wild beasts (see Genesis 2:19–20), being served by angels (see Ezekiel 28:12–14).

Like Adam, He too is tempted by the devil. But while Adam fell, giving reign to sin and death (see Romans 5:12–14, 17–20), Jesus is victorious.

This is the good news, the “gospel of God” that He proclaims. Through His death, resurrection, and enthronement at the right hand of the Father, the world is once again made God’s kingdom.

In the waters of Baptism, each of us entered the kingdom of His beloved Son (see Colossians 1:13–14). We were made children of God, new creations (see 2 Corinthians 5:7; Galatians 4:3–7).

But like Jesus, and Israel before Him, we have passed through the baptismal waters only to be driven into the wilderness—a world filled with afflictions and tests of our faithfulness (see 1 Corinthians 10:1–4, 9,13; Deuteronomy 8:2, 16).

We are led on this journey by Jesus. He is the Savior—the way and the truth we sing of in today’s Psalm (see John 14:6). He feeds us with the bread of angels (see Psalm 78:25; Wisdom 16:20), and cleanses our consciences in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

As we begin this holy season, let us renew our baptismal vows—to repent and believe the gospel.

Direct download: B_1_Lent.mp3
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Readings:
Job 7:1–4, 6–7
Psalm 147:1–6
1 Corinthians 9:16–19, 22–23
Mark 1:29–39

In today’s First Reading, Job describes the futility of life before Christ.

His lament reminds us of the curse of toil and death placed upon Adam following his original sin (see Genesis 3:17–19). Men and women are like slaves seeking shade, unable to find rest. Their lives are like the wind that comes and goes.

But, as we sing in today’s Psalm, He who created the stars promised to heal the brokenhearted and gather those lost in exile from Him (see Isaiah 11:12; 61:1). We see this promise fulfilled in today’s Gospel.

Simon’s mother-in-law is like Job’s toiling, hopeless humanity. She is laid low by affliction but too weak to save herself.

But as God promised to take His chosen people by the hand (see Isaiah 42:6), Jesus grasps her by the hand and helps her up. The word translated “help” is actually Greek for “raising up.” The same verb is used when Jesus commands a dead girl to arise (see Mark 5:41–42). It’s used again to describe His own resurrection (see Mark 14:28; 16:7).

What Jesus has done for Simon’s mother-in-law, He has done for all humanity—raised all of us who lay dead through our sins (see Ephesians 2:5).

Notice all the words of totality and completeness in the Gospel. The whole town gathers; all the sick are brought to Him. He drives out demons in the whole of Galilee. Everyone is looking for Christ.

We too have found Him. By our baptism, He healed and raised us to live in His presence (see Hosea 6:1–2).

Like Simon’s mother-in-law, there is only one way we can thank Him for the new life He has given us. We must rise to serve Him and His gospel.

Our lives must be our thanksgiving, as Paul describes in today’s Epistle. We must tell everyone the good news, the purpose for which Jesus has come—that others, too, may have a share in this salvation.

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

Readings:
Deuteronomy 18:15–20
Psalm 95:1–2, 6–9
1 Corinthians 7:32–35
Mark 1:21–28

Last week, Jesus announced the kingdom of God is at hand. This week, in mighty words and deeds, He exercises His dominion—asserting royal authority over the ruler of this world, Satan (see John 12:31).

Notice that today’s events take place on the sabbath. The sabbath was to be an everlasting sign—both of God’s covenant love for His creation (see Exodus 20:8–11; 31:12–17), and His deliverance of His covenant people, Israel, from slavery (see Deuteronomy 6:12–15).

On this sabbath, Jesus signals a new creation—that the Holy One has come to purify His people and deliver the world from evil.

“With an unclean spirit” is biblical language for a man possessed by a demon, Satan being the prince of demons (see Mark 3:22).

The demons’ question: “What have you to do with us?” is often used in Old Testament scenes of combat and judgment (see Judges 11:12; 1 Kings 17:18).

And as God by His Word “rebuked” the forces of chaos in creating the world (see Psalms 104:7; Job 26:10–12), and again rebuked the Red Sea so the Israelites could make their exodus (see Psalm 106:9), Mark uses the same word to describe Jesus rebuking the demons (see Mark 4:39; Zechariah 3:2).

Jesus is the prophet foretold by Moses in today’s First Reading (see Acts 3:22). Though He has authority over heaven and earth (see Daniel 7:14, 27; Revelation 12:10), He becomes one of our own kinsmen.

He comes to rebuke the forces of evil and chaos—not only in the world, but in our lives. He wants to make us holy in body and spirit, as Paul says in today’s Epistle (see Exodus 31:12).

In this liturgy, we hear His voice and “see” His works, as we sing in today’s Psalm. And as Moses tells us today, we should listen to Him.

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Lecturas:
Jonás 3,1–5.10
Salmo 25,4–9
1 Corintios 7, 29–31
Marcos 1, 14–20

La llamada de los hermanos, en el Evangelio dominical, evoca la elección de Eliseo por el profeta Elías (cf. 1R 19,19–21).

Así como Elías encuentra a Eliseo trabajando en los cultivos familiares, Jesús ve a los hermanos trabajando en la ribera del mar. Y como Eliseo dejó a su madre y padre para seguir a Elías, también los hermanos dejan a su padre para ir en pos de Jesús.

La promesa de Jesús –de hacerlos “pescadores de hombres”– evoca las más profundas esperanzas de Israel. El profeta Jeremías anunció un nuevo éxodo en el que Dios enviaría a muchos “pescadores de hombres” para restaurar a los israelitas del exilio, como lo había hecho ya cuando los sacó de la esclavitud de Egipto (cf. Jr 16,14–16).

Por la cruz y la resurrección de Jesús, este nuevo éxodo ha comenzado (cf. Lc 9,31). Y los apóstoles son los primeros miembros del nuevo pueblo de Dios, la Iglesia: una familia basada no en lazos de sangre, sino en la fe en Cristo y en el deseo de cumplir la voluntad del Padre (cf. Jn 1,12–13; Mt 12,46–50).

De ahora en adelante, incluso nuestras más importantes preocupaciones mundanas—relaciones familiares, quehaceres y posesiones—deben ser juzgadas a la luz del Evangelio, como dice San Pablo en la epístola del domingo.

La primera palabra del Evangelio de Jesús—arrepiéntanse—significa que debemos cambiar totalmente nuestro modo de pensar y vivir, convirtiéndonos del mal y haciendo todo por el amor de Dios.

Deberíamos sentirnos consolados por el arrepentimiento de Nínive, relatado en la primera lectura de esta semana. Incluso los malvados ninivitas se pudieron arrepentir ante la predicación de Jonás. Y en Jesús tenemos alguien mayor que Jonás (cf. Mt 12,41).

Tenemos a Dios, que ha venido como nuestro Salvador para mostrar a los pecadores el camino, como cantamos en el salmo dominical. Esto debería darnos esperanza de que los amados de Dios que están lejos de Él, encontrarán compasión si se vuelven a Él. Pero también nosotros debemos avanzar por la senda del arrepentimiento, esforzándonos cada día por moldear nuestra vida siguiendo el modelo de Cristo.

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Readings:
Jonah 3:1–5,10
Psalm 25:4–9
1 Corinthians 7:29–31
Mark 1:14–20

The calling of the brothers in today’s Gospel evokes Elisha’s commissioning by the prophet Elijah (see 1 Kings 19:19–21).

As Elijah comes upon Elisha working on his family’s farm, so Jesus sees the brothers working by the seaside. And as Elisha left his mother and father to follow Elijah, so the brothers leave their father to come after Jesus.

Jesus’ promise—to make them “fishers of men”—evokes Israel’s deepest hopes. The prophet Jeremiah announced a new exodus in which God would send “many fishermen” to restore the Israelites from exile, as once He brought them out of slavery in Egypt (see Jeremiah 16:14–16).

By Jesus’ Cross and Resurrection, this new exodus has begun (see Luke 9:31). And the apostles are the first of a new people of God, the Church—a new family, based not on blood ties, but on belief in Jesus and a desire to do the Father’s will (see John 1:12–13; Matthew 12:46–50).

From now on, even our most important worldly concerns—family relations, occupations, and possessions—must be judged in light of the Gospel, Paul says in today’s Epistle.

The first word of Jesus’ Gospel—repent—means we must totally change our way of thinking and living, turning from evil, doing all for the love of God.

And we should be consoled by Nineveh’s repentance in today’s First Reading. Even the wicked Nineveh could repent at Jonah’s preaching. And in Jesus we have “something greater than Jonah” (Matthew 12:41). We have God come as our savior, to show sinners the way, as we sing in today’s Psalm. This should give us hope—that loved ones who remain far from God will find compassion if they turn to Him.

But we, too, must continue along the path of repentance—striving daily to pattern our lives after His.

Direct download: B_3_Ordinary.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Lecturas:
1 Samuel 3, 3–10.19
Salmo 40, 2.4.7–10
1 Corintios 6, 3–15.17–20
Juan 1,35–42

En las llamadas de Samuel y del primero de los Apóstoles, las lecturas de este domingo nos dan luz sobre nuestra propia vocación de seguidores de Cristo.

En el Evangelio, hay que notar que los discípulos de Juan están preparados para escuchar la llamada de Dios. Ellos ya están buscando al Mesías, por lo tanto confían en la palabra de Juan y le comprenden cuando él les señala al Cordero de Dios que pasa a su lado.

También Samuel está a la espera del Señor: duerme cerca del Arca de la Alianza, donde mora la gloria de Dios, y recibe instrucción de Elí, el sumo sacerdote.

Samuel escuchó la palabra de Dios y el Señor estaba con él. Y Samuel, por su palabra, convirtió a todo Israel al Señor (cf. 1S 3,21; 7,2-3). También los discípulos escucharon y siguieron las palabras que escuchamos continuamente en el Evangelio dominical. Ellos permanecieron con el Señor y por su testimonio, otros se acercaron a Él.

Estos pasajes de la historia de la salvación deberían darnos la fuerza necesaria para que abracemos la voluntad de Dios y sigamos su llamado en nuestras vidas.

Dios está llamando constantemente a cada uno de nosotros: lo llama por su nombre, personalmente (cf. Is 43,1; Jn 10,3). Quiere que lo busquemos por amor, que anhelemos su Palabra (cf. Sb 6,11-12). Como lo hicieron los apóstoles, debemos desear siempre estar donde el Señor está; para buscar su rostro constantemente.

Como nos dice San Pablo en la epístola del domingo, no somos dueños de nosotros mismos pues pertenecemos al Señor.

Debemos abrir nuestros oídos a la obediencia y escribir su Palabra en nuestro corazón. Hemos de confiar en la promesa del Señor: si venimos a Él con fe, Él será misericordioso con nosotros (cf. Jn 15,14; 14,21-23) y nos levantará con su poder. Y nosotros debemos reflejar en nuestras vidas el amor que nos ha mostrado, para que también otros puedan encontrar al Mesías.

Mientras renovamos las promesas de nuestro discipulado en esta Eucaristía, acerquémonos al altar entonando el nuevo canto del salmo dominical: “Aquí estoy, Señor, para cumplir tu voluntad”.

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Readings:
1 Samuel 3:3-10, 19
Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-10
1 Corinthians 6:13-15, 17-20
John 1:35-42

In the call of Samuel and of the first Apostles, today’s readings shed light on our own calling to be followers of Christ.

Notice in the Gospel today that John’s disciples are prepared to hear God’s call. They are already looking for the Messiah, so they trust in John’s word and follow when he points out the Lamb of God walking by.

Samuel is also waiting on the Lord—sleeping near the Ark of the Covenant where God’s glory dwells, taking instruction from Eli, the high priest.

Samuel listened to God’s word and the Lord was with him. And Samuel, through his word, turned all Israel to the Lord (see 1 Samuel 3:21; 7:2–3). The disciples too heard and followed—words we hear
repeatedly in today’s Gospel. They stayed with the Lord and by their testimony brought others to the Lord.

These scenes from salvation history should give us strength to embrace God’s will and to follow His call in our lives.

God is constantly calling to each of us—personally, by name (see Isaiah 43:1; John 10:3). He wants us to seek Him in love, to long for His word (see Wisdom 6:11–12). We must desire always, as the apostles did, to stay where the Lord stays, to constantly seek His face (see Psalm 42:2).

For we are not our own, but belong to the Lord, as Paul says in today’s Epistle.

We must have ears open to obedience, and write His word within our hearts. We must trust in the Lord’s promise—that if we come to Him in faith, He will abide with us (see John 15:14; 14:21–23), and raise us by His power. And we must reflect in our lives the love He has shown us, so that others too may find the Messiah.

As we renew our vows of discipleship in this Eucharist, let us approach the altar singing the new song of today’s Psalm: “Behold I come . . . to do your will O God.”

Direct download: B_2_Ordinary.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Readings:
Isaiah 42:1–4, 6–7
Psalm 29:1–4, 9–10
Acts 10:34–38
Luke 3:15–16, 21–22

The Liturgy last week revealed the mystery of God’s plan—that in Jesus all peoples, symbolized by the magi, have been made “co-heirs” to the blessings promised to Israel. This week, we’re shown how we claim our inheritance.

Jesus doesn’t submit to John’s baptism as a sinner in need of purification. He humbles Himself to pass through Jordan’s waters in order to lead a new “exodus”—opening up the promised land of heaven so that all peoples can hear the words pronounced over Jesus today, words once reserved only for Israel and its king: that each of us is a beloved son or daughter of God (see Genesis 22:2; Exodus 4:22; Psalm 2:7).

Jesus is the chosen servant Isaiah prophesies in today’s First Reading, anointed with the Spirit to make things right and just on earth. God puts His Spirit upon Jesus to make Him “a covenant of
the people,” the liberator of the captives, the light to the nations. Jesus, today’s Second Reading tells us, is the One long expected in Israel, “anointed . . . with the Holy Spirit and power.”

The word Messiah means “one anointed” with God’s Spirit. King David was “the anointed of the God of Jacob” (see 2 Samuel 23:1–17; Psalm 18:51; 132:10, 17). The prophets taught Israel to await a royal offshoot of David, upon whom the Spirit would rest (see Isaiah 11:1–2; Daniel 9:25).

That’s why people of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to John. But it isn’t John they’re looking for. God confirms with His own voice what the Angel earlier told Mary—Jesus is the Son of the Most High, come to claim the throne of David forever (see Luke 1:32–33).

In the Baptism that He brings, the voice of God will hover over the waters as fiery flame, as we sing in today’s Psalm. He has sanctified the waters, made them a passage—a way to healing and freedom—a fountain of new birth and everlasting life.

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