Letters From Home

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.

Direct download: B_7_Easter.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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.

Direct download: B_7_Easter_Spn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT


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

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Direct download: DBR_5.10_YB.mp3
Category:catholicism -- posted at: 7:00am EDT