St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

Readings:
Sirach 3:2-6,12-14
Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
Colossians 3:12-21
Luke 2:22-40

Why did Jesus choose to become a baby born of a mother and father and to spend all but His last years living in an ordinary human family? In part, to reveal God's plan to make all people live as one “holy family” in His Church (see 2 Corinthians 6:16-18).

In the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, God reveals our true home. We're to live as His children, “chosen ones, holy and beloved,” as the First Reading puts it.

The family advice we hear in today's readings – for mothers, fathers and children – is all solid and practical. Happy homes are the fruit of our faithfulness to the Lord, we sing in today's Psalm. But the Liturgy is inviting us to see more, to see how, through our family obligations and relationships, our families become heralds of the family of God that He wants to create on earth.

Jesus shows us this in today's Gospel. His obedience to His earthly parents flows directly from His obedience to the will of His heavenly Father. Joseph and Mary aren't identified by name, but three times are called “his parents” and are referred to separately as his “mother” and “father.” The emphasis is all on their “familial” ties to Jesus. But these ties are emphasized only so that Jesus, in the first words He speaks in Luke's Gospel, can point us beyond that earthly relationship to the Fatherhood of God.

In what Jesus calls “My Father's house,” every family finds its true meaning and purpose (see Ephesians 3:15). The Temple we read about in the Gospel today is God's house, His dwelling (see Luke 19:46). But it's also an image of the family of God, the Church (see Ephesians 2:19-22; Hebrews 3:3-6; 10:21).

In our families we're to build up this household, this family, this living temple of God. Until He reveals His new dwelling among us, and says of every person: “I shall be his God and he will be My son” (see Revelation 21:3,7).

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Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Lecturas:
Sirácida 3,2-6.12-14
Salmo 128, 1-5
Colosenses 3,12-21
Lucas 2, 22-40

¿Porqué Jesús escoge ser el bebé de una madre y un padre, y pasar casi toda su vida –excepto sus últimos años- en una familia humana ordinaria? En parte, para revelar el plan de Dios, de que todos vivan como una “familia santa” en su Iglesia (cf. 2Co 6,16-18). En la Sagrada Familia de Jesús, María y José, Dios revela nuestro verdadero hogar. Tenemos que vivir como sus hijos, “elegidos, santos y queridos,” como dice la Segunda Lectura.

Los consejos familiares que escuchamos en las lecturas de esta semana –para madres, padres e hijos- son todos prácticos y formales. Los hogares felices son fruto de nuestra fidelidad al Señor, cantamos en el salmo de hoy.

Pero la Liturgia nos invita a más: a ver que al cumplir nuestras obligaciones y relaciones familiares, nuestras familias se convierten en heraldos de la familia de Dios; esa que Él quiere crear en la tierra.

Eso es lo que observamos en el Evangelio del domingo. Es notorio que José y María no son identificados por su nombre, pero son llamados “sus padres” y también se hace referencia a ellos por separado como su “madre” y su “padre”. Se pone énfasis en los lazos familiares que los unen al “niño Jesús”.

Como el varón primogénito de su familia, Jesús es consagrado al Señor. Pero además es el Primogénito de la creación, el primogénito resucitado de entre los muertos, el predestinado a ser el primogénito de muchos hermanos (cf. Col 1,15; Rm 8,29). Por Él, por su sagrada familia, todas las familias del mundo serán bendecidas (cf. Ef 3,15).

También es significativo que toda la escena descrita tiene lugar en el Templo. El Templo, leemos ahí, es la casa de Dios, su morada (cf. Lc 19,46). Pero también es imagen de la familia de Dios: la Iglesia (cf. Ef 2,19-22; Hb 3,3-6; 10,21).

En nuestras familias hemos de construir este hogar, esta familia, este templo vivo de Dios. Hasta que Él nos revele su nueva morada entre nosotros y diga de cada persona: “Yo seré Dios para él, y él será hijo para mí” (Ap 21,3.7).

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Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Lecturas
2 Samuel 7,1-5.8-11.16
Salmo 89, 2-5.27.29
Romanos 16, 25-27
Lucas 1, 26-38

Lo que se le anuncia a María en el Evangelio de este domingo, es la revelación de todo lo que los profetas habían dicho. Es, como San Pablo declara en la epístola, el misterio mantenido en secreto desde antes de la creación del mundo (cf. Ef 1,9; 3,3-9).

María es la virgen de la que se profetizó daría a luz un hijo de la casa de David (cf. Is 7,13-14). Y casi cada palabra de las que le dice hoy el ángel evoca y hace eco de la larga historia de la salvación registrada en la Biblia. María es saludada como la hija de Jerusalén llamada a alegrarse de que su rey, el Señor Dios, ha venido a su interior como salvador poderoso (cf. So 3,14-17).

Aquel que ha de nacer de María será Hijo del “Altísimo”. Éste es un antiguo título divino usado para describir al Dios del sacerdote-rey Melquisedec, quien presentó pan y vino para bendecir a Abraham, en los albores de la historia de la salvación (cf. Gn 14,18-19).

El cumplirá la alianza que Dios hace con su elegido, David, en la primera lectura del domingo. Como cantamos en el salmo, Él reinará por siempre como el mayor de los reyes de la tierra, y llamará a Dios “mi Padre”.

Su reino no tendrá fin, tal y como lo había contemplado Daniel, quien vio al Altísimo dar poder eterno al Hijo del Hombre (cf. Dn 4,14; 7,14). Él ha de gobernar sobre la “casa de Jacob” –título usado por Dios cuando hizo su alianza con Israel en el Sinaí (cf. Ex 19,3) y también al prometer que todas las naciones adorarían al Dios de Jacob (cf. Is 2,1-5).

Jesús se ha dado a conocer, nos dice San Pablo en la primera lectura, para traer todas las naciones a la obediencia de la fe. Nosotros en esta semana, con María, estamos llamados a maravillarnos por todo lo que Dios ha hecho a través de los siglos por nuestra salvación. Y también debemos responder a su anunciación con obediencia humilde, deseando que se haga su voluntad en nuestras vidas, según su Palabra.

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Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Readings
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-11,16
Psalm 89:2-5,27,29
Romans 16:25-27
Luke 1:26-38

What is announced to Mary in today's Gospel is the revelation of all that the prophets had spoken. It is, as Paul declares in today's Epistle, the mystery kept secret since before the foundation of the world (see Ephesians 1:9; 3:3-9).

Mary is the virgin prophesied to bear a son of the house of David (see Isaiah 7:13-14). And nearly every word the angel speaks to her today evokes and echoes the long history of salvation recorded in the Bible.

Mary is hailed as the daughter Jerusalem, called to rejoice that her king, the Lord God, has come into her midst as a mighty savior (see Zephaniah 3:14-17).

The One whom Mary is to bear will be Son of "the Most High" - an ancient divine title first used to describe the God of the priest-king Melchizedek, who brought out bread and wine to bless Abraham at the dawn of salvation history (see Genesis 14:18-19).

He will fulfill the covenant God makes with His chosen one, David, in today's First Reading. As we sing in today's Psalm, He will reign forever as highest of the kings of the earth, and He will call God, "my Father." As Daniel saw the Most High grant everlasting dominion to the Son of Man (see Daniel 4:14; 7:14), His kingdom will have no end.

He is to rule over the house of Jacob - the title God used in making His covenant with Israel at Sinai (see Exodus 19:3), and again used in promising that all nations would worship the God of Jacob (see Isaiah 2:1-5).

Jesus has been made known, Paul says today, to bring all nations to the obedience of faith. We are called with Mary today, to marvel at all that the Lord has done throughout the ages for our salvation. And we too, must respond to this annunciation with humble obedience - that His will be done, that our lives be lived according to His word.

Direct download: B_4_Advent.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Lecturas:
Isaías 61, 1-2.10-11
Lucas 1, 46-50.53-54
1 Tesalonicenses 5, 16-24
Juan 1, 6-8.19-28

La misteriosa figura de Juan el Bautista, que nos fue presentada en las lecturas de la semana pasada, se nos muestra hoy más claramente a la vista. Como vemos en el evangelio de este domingo, se comprende mejor quién es Juan si se sabe primero quién no es.

Él no es Elías que ha retornado del cielo (cf. 2R 2,11), aún y cuando viste su mismo atuendo (cf. Mc 1,6; 2R 1,8) y predica el arrepentimiento y el juicio (cf. 1R 18,21; 2Cr 21,12-15).

No es Elías en la carne, sin embargo Juan es enviado con el espíritu y poder de Elías para cumplir su misión (cf. Lc 1,17; Ml 3,23-24). Tampoco es el profeta que Moisés predijo, aunque es su pariente y habla la palabra de Dios (cf. Dt 18,15-19; Jn 6,14).

Juan tampoco es el Mesías, aunque ha sido ungido por el Espíritu desde el vientre de su madre (cf. Lc 1,15.44).

Juan prepara el camino del Señor (cf. Is 40,3). Su bautismo es simbólico, no sacramental. Es un signo que se nos da para mover nuestros corazones al arrepentimiento.

Él nos muestra a Aquel sobre quien permanece el Espíritu (cf. Jn 1,32); Aquel que cumple la promesa que escuchamos en la primera lectura del domingo (cf. Lc 4,16-21).
Jesús, por medio de su baño de Espíritu y de regeneración, abre una fuente que purifica Israel y les da a todos un nuevo corazón y un nuevo espíritu (cf. Za 13,1-3; Ez 36,24-27; Mc 1,8; Tt 3,5).

Juan viene a nosotros en las lecturas del Adviento para mostrarnos la luz, de modo que podamos creer en Aquel que viene en Navidad. Como cantamos en el salmo de este domingo, el Poderoso ha venido para levantar a cada uno de nosotros; para colmar nuestra hambre con pan del cielo (cf. Jn 6,33.49-51).

Y como San Pablo exhorta en la epístola, debemos alegrarnos, dar gracias y orar sin cesar para que Dios nos haga perfectamente santos en espíritu, alma y cuerpo. De ese modo estaremos libres de culpa cuando nuestro Señor venga.

Direct download: B_3_Advent_Spn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:36pm EDT

Readings
Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11
Luke 1:46-50, 53-54
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28

The mysterious figure of John the Baptist, introduced in last week's readings, comes into sharper focus today. Who he is, we see in today's Gospel, is best understood by who he isn't.

He is not Elijah returned from the heavens (see 2 Kings 2:11), although like him he dresses in the prophet's attire (see Mark 1:6; 2 Kings 1:8) and preaches repentance and judgment (see 1 Kings 18:21; 2 Chronicles 21:12-15).

Not Elijah in the flesh, John is nonetheless sent in the spirit and power of Elijah to fulfill his mission (see Luke 1:17; Malachi 3:23-24).

Neither is John the prophet Moses foretold, although he is a kinsman and speaks God's word (see Deuteronomy 18:15-19; John 6:14). Nor is John the Messiah, though he has been anointed by the Spirit since the womb (see Luke 1:15, 44).

John prepares the way for the Lord (see Isaiah 40:3). His baptism is symbolic, not sacramental. It is a sign given to stir our hearts to repentance.

John shows us the One upon whom the Spirit remains (see John 1:32), the One who fulfills the promise we hear in today's First Reading (see Luke 4:16-21). Jesus' bath of rebirth and the Spirit opens a fountain that purifies Israel and gives to all a new heart and a new Spirit (see Zechariah 13:1-3; Ezekiel 36:24-27; Mark 1:8; Titus 3:5).

John comes to us in the Advent readings to show us the light, that we might believe in the One who comes at Christmas. As we sing in today's Responsorial, the Mighty One has come to lift each of us up, to fill our hunger with bread from heaven (see John 6:33, 49-51).

And as Paul exhorts in today's Epistle, we should rejoice, give thanks, and pray without ceasing that God will make us perfectly holy in spirit, soul, and body - that we may be blameless when our Lord comes.

Direct download: B_3_Advent.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 1:30pm EDT

Lecturas:
Isaías 40,1-5. 9-11
Salmo 85, 9-14
2 Pedro 3, 8-14
Marcos 1, 1-8

Nuestro Dios viene. El tiempo del exilio –la prolongada separación de Dios que la humanidad tiene debido al pecado- está a punto de terminar. Esas son las buenas nuevas que proclama la liturgia de este domingo.

En la primera lectura, Isaías promete la futura liberación israelita de la cautividad y el regreso del exilio. Pero como enseña el Evangelio, la liberación histórica de Israel pretendía anunciar un acto salvífico de Dios aún mayor: la venida de Jesús para liberar de las ataduras del pecado a Israel y a todas las naciones, para congregarlas y llevarlas de vuelta a Dios.

Dios mandó un ángel delante de Israel para liderarlo en su éxodo hacia la tierra prometida (cf. Ex 23,20). Y Él prometió enviar a un mensajero de la alianza, Elías, para purificar al pueblo y convertir los corazones al Padre, antes del Día del Señor (cf. Ml 3,1; 23.24).

Juan el Bautista cita esto, así como la profecía de Isaías, para mostrar que toda la historia de Israel apunta a la revelación de Jesús. En Jesús, Dios ha llenado el valle que separaba de Él a la humanidad pecadora. Él ha descendido desde el cielo y ha hecho habitar su gloria en la tierra, como cantamos en el salmo de este domingo.

Él ha hecho todo esto, no por la humanidad en abstracto, sino por cada uno de nosotros. La extensa historia de la salvación nos ha conducido a esta Eucaristía, en la que Dios nuevamente viene y nuestra salvación está cerca.

Y cada uno de nosotros debe escuchar una llamada personal en las lecturas del domingo. Aquí está su Dios, dice Isaías. Él ha sido paciente con ustedes, dice San Pedro en la epístola.

Como los habitantes de Jerusalén que aparecen en el Evangelio, debemos salir y acudir hacia Él, arrepentirnos de nuestros pecados, de pereza y de auto-indulgencia que hacen de nuestra existencia un desierto. Debemos enderezar nuestras vidas, de modo que todo lo que hagamos nos conduzca hacia Él.

Esta domingo, en la Misa, escuchemos el inicio del Evangelio y comprometámonos a vivir con santidad y devoción.

Direct download: B_2_Advent_Spn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Readings:
Isaiah 40:1-59-11
Psalm 85:9-14
2 Peter 3:8-14
Mark 1:1-8

Our God is coming. The time of exile – the long separation of humankind from God due to sin – is about to end. This is the good news proclaimed in today’s liturgy.

Isaiah in today’s First Reading promises Israel’s future release and return from captivity and exile. But as today’s Gospel shows, Israel’s historic deliverance was meant to herald an even greater saving act by God – the coming of Jesus to set Israel and all nations free from bondage to sin, to gather them up and carry them back to God.

God sent an angel before Israel to lead them in their exodus towards the promised land (see Exodus 23:20). And He promised to send a messenger of the covenant, Elijah, to purify the people and turn their hearts to the Father before the day of the Lord (see Malachi 3:123-24).

John the Baptist quotes these, as well as Isaiah’s prophecy, to show that all of Israel’s history looks forward to the revelation of Jesus. In Jesus, God has filled in the valley that divided sinful humanity from himself. He has reached down from heaven and made His glory to dwell on earth, as we sing in today’s Psalm.

He has done all this, not for humanity in the abstract, but for each of us. The long history of salvation has led us to this Eucharist, in which our God again comes and our salvation is near. And each of us must hear in today’s readings a personal call. Here is your God, Isaiah says. He has been patient with you, Peter says in today’s Epistle.

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

Lecturas:
Isaías 63,16-17.19; 64,2–7
Salmo 80, 2-3.15-16.18-19
1 Corintios 1, 3-9
Marcos 13, 33-37

El nuevo año de la Iglesia comienza con una petición de la visita de Dios: “¡Oh, si rasgases los cielos y bajases!”, clama el profeta Isaías en la primera lectura del domingo.

También en el salmo de hoy escuchamos la voz angustiada de Israel, que le implora a Dios mirar abajo desde su trono celestial, para salvar y pastorear a su pueblo.

Las lecturas de esta semana son relativamente breves. Su lenguaje y “mensaje” son aparentemente sencillos. Pero debemos advertir el tono grave y el aspecto penitencial de la Liturgia de hoy, en la que el pueblo de Israel reconoce su pecaminosidad, su fracaso en guardar la alianza de Dios, su incapacidad para salvarse a sí mismo.

Y nosotros, en este tiempo de adviento, también deberíamos ver nuestra propia vida en la experiencia de Israel. Al examinar nuestra conciencia, ¿no encontramos acaso que con frecuencia endurecemos nuestro corazón, rechazamos su ley, nos apartamos de sus caminos, le retenemos nuestro amor?

Dios es fiel, nos recuerda San Pablo en la epístola de esta semana. Él es nuestro Padre. Él ha escuchado el grito de sus hijos y ha descendido del cielo por el bien de Israel y por el nuestro; para rescatarnos de nuestro exilio de Dios, para restaurarnos a su amor.

En Jesús hemos visto al Padre (cf. Jn 14,8-9). El Padre ha hecho brillar su rostro sobre nosotros. Él es el buen pastor (cf. Jn 10, 11-15) venido para guiarnos al reino celestial. No importa qué tan lejos nos hayamos extraviado: Él nos dará una nueva vida si nos volvemos a Él, si apelamos a su santo Nombre, si prometemos de nuevo que nunca nos alejaremos de Él.

Como San Pablo dice esta semana, Él nos ha dado cada don espiritual –sobre todo la Eucaristía y la Penitencia- para fortalecernos mientras esperamos la última venida de Cristo. Él nos mantendrá firmes hasta el final… si se lo permitimos.

Por tanto, en este tiempo de arrepentimiento, debemos prestar atención a la advertencia que nuestro Señor repite tres veces en el Evangelio de esta semana, vigilar, pues no sabemos la hora en que regresará el Señor de la casa.

Direct download: B_1_Advent_Spn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:50pm EDT

Readings:
Isaiah 63:16-17, 19
Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Mark 13:33-37

The new Church year begins with a plea for God's visitation. "Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down," the prophet Isaiah cries in today's First Reading.

In today's Psalm, too, we hear the anguished voice of Israel, imploring God to look down from His heavenly throne - to save and shepherd His people.

Today's readings are relatively brief. Their language and "message" are deceptively simple. But we should take note of the serious mood and penitential aspect of the Liturgy today - as the people of Israel recognize their sinfulness, their failures to keep God's covenant, their inability to save themselves.

And in this Advent season, we should see our own lives in the experience of Israel. As we examine our consciences, can't we, too, find that we often harden our hearts, refuse His rule, wander from His ways, withhold our love from Him?

God is faithful, Paul reminds us in today's Epistle. He is our Father. He has hearkened to the cry of His children, coming down from heaven for Israel's sake and for ours - to redeem us from our exile from God, to restore us to His love.

In Jesus, we have seen the Father (see John 14:8-9). The Father has let His face shine upon us. He is the good shepherd (see John 10:11-15) come to guide us to the heavenly kingdom. No matter how far we have strayed, He will give us new life if we turn to Him, if we call upon His holy name, if we pledge anew never again to withdraw from Him.

As Paul says today, He has given us every spiritual gift - especially the Eucharist and penance - to strengthen us as we await Christ's final coming. He will keep us firm to the end - if we let Him.

So, in this season of repentance, we should heed the warning - repeated three times by our Lord in today's Gospel - to be watchful, for we know not the hour when the Lord of the house will return.

Direct download: B_1_Advent.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 3:34pm EDT

Lecturas
Ezequiel 34,11-12.15-17
Salmo 23,1-3.5-6
1 Corintios 15, 20-26. 28
Mateo25, 31-46

Esta semana termina el año litúrgico con una visión del final de los tiempos. La escena descrita por el Evangelio es cruda y en ella resuenan ecos del Antiguo Testamento.

Sunday’s First Reading, judging as a shepherd separates sheep from goats.
El Hijo del Hombre es entronizado sobre todas las naciones y pueblos de toda lengua (cf. Dn 7,13-14). Las naciones han sido reunidas para ver su gloria y recibir su juicio (cf. Is 66,18; So 3,8). El Rey es el pastor divino que Ezequiel prevé en la primera lectura del domingo; Él juzga así como el pastor separa las ovejas de las cabras.

Cada uno de nosotros será juzgado según cómo realice las sencillas obras de misericordia que escuchamos en el Evangelio.

Estas obras, como Jesús explica hoy, son reflejo o medida de nuestro amor a Él; son nuestra fidelidad a su mandamiento de amar a Dios con todas nuestras fuerzas y al prójimo como a nosotros mismos (cf. Mt 22, 36-40).

Nuestra fe está muerta, no tiene vida, a menos de que la expresemos con obras de amor (cf. St 2,20; Ga 5,6). Y no podemos decir que amamos verdaderamente a Dios a quien no vemos, si no amamos a nuestro prójimo, a quien sí vemos (cf. 1Jn 4,20).

El Señor es nuestro pastor, como cantamos en el salmo del domingo. Y hemos de seguir su guía e imitar su ejemplo (cf. 1Co 1,11; Ef 5,1).

Él ha sanado nuestras enfermedades (cf. Lc 6,19), nos ha liberado de la cárcel del pecado y de la muerte (cf. Rm 8,2.21), nos ha dado la bienvenida a nosotros que una vez fuimos extraños a su alianza (cf. Ef 2,12.19). Nos ha revestido en el bautismo (cf. Ap 5,5; 2Co 5, 3-4) y nos alimenta con la comida y la bebida de su propio Cuerpo y Sangre.

“Al final” vendrá de nuevo para entregar su reino a su Padre, como dice San Pablo en la epístola de esta semana.

Luchemos por seguirle en el camino correcto para que su reino sea nuestra heredad; para que podamos entrar en el descanso eterno prometido al pueblo de Dios (cf. Hb 4,1.9-11).

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

Readings:
Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
Psalm 23:1-3, 5-6
1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28
Matthew 25:31-46

Many saints and Church leaders have seen a connection between Christ's words in the Gospel for the Solemnity of Christ the King (see Matthew 25:31-43) and His promise to be present in the Eucharist (see Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:15-20).

For instance, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta used to say of her work with the destitute: "In Holy Communion we have Christ under the appearance of bread. In our work we find Him under the appearance of flesh and blood. It is the same Christ. 'I was hungry, I was naked, I was sick, I was homeless.'"

St. John Chrysostom, the great patriarch of Eastern Catholicism, said the same thing in the fourth century: "Do you wish to honour the body of Christ? Do not ignore Him when He is naked. Do not pay Him homage in the temple clad in silk only then to neglect Him outside where He suffers cold and nakedness. He who said: 'This is my body' is the same One who said: 'You saw me hungry and you gave me no food', and 'Whatever you did to the least of my brothers you did also to me' . . . What good is it if the Eucharistic table is overloaded with golden chalices, when He is dying of hunger? Start by satisfying His hunger, and then with what is left you may adorn the altar as well."

The Church year ends today with a vision of the end of time. The scene in the Gospel is stark and resounds with Old Testament echoes.

The Son of Man is enthroned over all nations and peoples of every language (see Daniel 7:13-14). The nations have been gathered to see His glory and receive His judgment (see Isaiah 66:18; Zephaniah 3:8). The King is the divine shepherd Ezekiel foresees in today's First Reading, judging as a shepherd separates sheep from goats.

Each of us will be judged upon our performance of the simple works of mercy we hear in the Gospel today.

These works, as Jesus explains today, are reflections or measures of our love for Him, our faithfulness to His commandment that we love God with all our might and our neighbor as ourselves (see Matthew 22:36-40).

Our faith is dead, lifeless, unless it be expressed in works of love (see James 2:20; Galatians 5:6). And we cannot say we truly love God, whom we cannot see, if we don't love our neighbor, whom we can (see 1 John 4:20).

The Lord is our shepherd, as we sing in today's Psalm. And we are to follow His lead, to imitate His example (see 1 Corinthians 1:11; Ephesians 5:1).

He healed our sickness (see Luke 6:19), freed us from the prison of sin and death (see Romans 8:2,21), welcomed us who were once strangers to His covenant (see Ephesians 2:12,19). He clothed us in baptism (see Revelation 3:5; 2 Corinthians 5:3-4), and feeds us with the food and drink of His own body and blood.

At "the end," He will come again to hand over His kingdom to His Father, as Paul says in today's Epistle.

Let us strive to be following Him in right paths, that this kingdom might be our inheritance, that we might enter into the eternal rest promised for the people of God (see Hebrews 4:1,9-11).

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

Lecturas:
Proverbios 31,10-13.19-20.30-31
Salmo 128, 1-5
1 Tesalonicenses 5, 1-6
Mateo 25, 14-30

El día del Señor viene, advierte San Pablo en la epístola del domingo. Lo que importa no es el tiempo o el momento, sino lo que Dios nos encuentre haciendo con la nueva vida y las gracias que Él nos ha dado.

Esto mismo se encuentra en el corazón de la parábola que Cristo narra en el Evangelio de esta semana. Jesús es el Señor. Al morir, resucitar y ascender al cielo, aparentemente se ha ido por largo tiempo.

Por nuestro bautismo, Él nos ha confiado a cada uno de nosotros una porción de su“hacienda”: una participación de su vida divina (cf. 2P 1,4). Nos ha dado talentos y responsabilidades según la medida de nuestra fe (cf. Rm 12,3.8).

Hemos de ser como la loable esposa de la primera lectura, y como la mujer fiel de la que cantamos en el salmo. Como ellas, debemos vivir en el “temor de Dios”: con reverencia, admiración y gratitud por los maravillosos dones que nos ha dado. Ese es el principio de la sabiduría (cf. Hch 9,31; Pr 1,7).

Ese no es el “temor” del siervo inútil que aparece esta semana en la parábola de Jesús. El suyo es el miedo de un esclavo que se empequeñece ante su señor cruel; el miedo de quien rechaza la relación con Dios a la que Él mismo nos llama.

Dios nos ha llamado a ser siervos de confianza, colaboradores suyos (cf. 1Co 3,9) que usen sus talentos para servirse unos a otros y a su Reino, como buenos administradores de su gracia (cf. 1P 4,10).

En ello, cada uno de nosotros tiene un papel diferente que jugar.

Aunque a los siervos buenos de la parábola se les dio diferente cantidad de talentos, cada uno “duplicó” los que se le habían entregado. Y cada uno de ellos mereció la misma recompensa por su fidelidad: compartir la alegría de su señor y tener una mayor responsabilidad a su cargo.

Por tanto, en nuestra Eucaristía, dispongámonos a rendir mucho más de lo que se nos ha dado, haciéndolo todo para la gloria de Dios (cf. 1Co 10,31), para que también nos acerquemos a Él con amor y confianza cuando venga a saldar cuentas con nosotros.

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Readings:
Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31
Psalm 128:1-5
1 Thessalonians 5:1-6
Matthew 25:14-30

The day of the Lord is coming, Paul warns in today's Epistle. What matters isn't the time or the season, but what the Lord finds us doing with the new life, the graces He has given to us.

This is at the heart of Jesus' parable in today's Gospel. Jesus is the Master. Having died, risen, and ascended into heaven, He appears to have gone away for a long time.

By our baptism, He has entrusted to each of us a portion of His "possessions," a share in His divine life (see 2 Peter 1:4). He has given us talents and responsibilities, according to the measure of our faith (see Romans 12:3,8).

We are to be like the worthy wife in today's First Reading, and the faithful man we sing of in today's Psalm. Like them, we should walk in the "fear of the Lord" - in reverence, awe, and thanksgiving for His marvelous gifts. This is the beginning of wisdom (see Acts 9:31; Proverbs 1:7).

This is not the "fear" of the useless servant in today's parable. His is the fear of a slave cowering before a cruel master, the fear of one who refuses the relationship that God calls us to.

He has called us to be trusted servants, fellow workers (see 1 Corinthians 3:9), using our talents to serve one another and His kingdom as good stewards of His grace (see 1 Peter 4:10).

In this, we each have a different part to play.

Though the good servants in today's parable were given different numbers of talents, each "doubled" what he was given. And each earned the same reward for his faithfulness - greater responsibilities and a share of the Master's joy.

So let us resolve again in this Eucharist to make much of what we've been given, to do all for the glory of God (see 1 Corinthians 10:31). That we, too, may approach our Master with confidence and love when He comes to settle accounts.

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Readings:
Wisdom 6:12-16
Psalm 63:2-8
1 Thessalonians 4:13-17
Matthew 25:1-13

According to marriage customs of Jesus' day, a bride was first "betrothed" to her husband but continued for a time to live with her family. Then, at the appointed hour, some months later, the groom would come to claim her, leading her family and bridal party to the wedding feast that would celebrate and inaugurate their new life together.

This is the background to the parable of the last judgment we hear in today's Gospel.

In the parable's symbolism, Jesus is the Bridegroom (see Mark 2:19). In this, He fulfills God's ancient promise to join himself forever to His chosen people as a husband cleaves to his bride (see Hosea 2:16-20). The virgins of the bridal party represent us, the members of the Church.

We were "betrothed" to Jesus in baptism (see 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-27) and are called to lives of holiness and devotion until He comes again to lead us to the heavenly wedding feast at the end of time (see Revelation 19:7-9; 21:1-4).

As St. Paul warns in today's Epistle, Jesus is coming again, though we know not the day nor the hour.

We need to keep vigil throughout the dark night of this time in which our Bridegroom seems long delayed. We need to keep our souls' lamps filled with the oil of perseverance and desire for God - virtues that are extolled in today's First Reading and Psalm.

We are to seek Him in love, meditating upon His kindness, calling upon His name, striving to be ever more worthy of Him, to be found without spot or blemish when He comes.

If we do this, we will be counted as wise and the oil for our lamps will not run dry (see 1 Kings 17:16). We will perceive the Bridegroom, the Wisdom of God (see Proverbs 8:22-31,35; 9:1-5), hastening toward us, beckoning us to the table He has prepared, the rich banquet which will satisfy our souls.

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Readings:
Malachi 1:14-2:2, 8-10
Psalm 131:1-3
1 Thessalonians 2:7-9, 13
Matthew 23:1-12

Though they were Moses' successors, the Pharisees and scribes exalted themselves, made their mastery of the law a badge of social privilege. Worse, they had lorded the law over the people (see Matthew 20:25). Like the priests Malachi condemns in today's First Reading, they caused many to falter and be closed off from God.

In a word, Israel's leaders failed to be good spiritual fathers of God's people. Moses was a humble father-figure, preaching the law but also practicing it - interceding and begging God's mercy and forgiveness of the people's sins (see Exodus 32:9-14; Psalm 90).

And Jesus reminds us today that all fatherhood - in the family or in the people of God - comes from the our Father in heaven (see Ephesians 3:15).

He doesn't mean we're to literally call no man "father." He himself referred to Israel's founding fathers (see John 7:42); the apostles taught about natural fatherhood (see Hebrews 12:7-11), and described themselves as spiritual fathers (see 1 Corinthians 4:14-16)

The fatherhood of the apostles and their successors, the Church's priests and bishops, is a spiritual paternity given to raise us as God's children. Our fathers give us new life in baptism, and feed us the spiritual milk of the gospel and the Eucharist (see 1 Peter 2:2-3). That's why Paul, in today's Epistle, can also compare himself to a nursing mother.

God's fatherhood likewise transcends all human notions of fatherhood and motherhood. Perhaps that's why the Psalm chosen for today includes one of the rare biblical images of God's maternal care (see Isaiah 66:13).

His only Son has shown us the Father (see John 14:9) coming to gather His children as a hen gathers her young (see Matthew 23:37). We're all brothers and sisters, our Lord tells us today. And all of us - even our spiritual fathers - are to trust in Him, humbly, like children on our mothers' laps.

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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).

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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 has 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).

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Lecturas
Isaías 55, 6-9
Salmo 145, 2-3.8-9.17-18
Filipenses 1, 20-24.27
Mateo 20,1-16

La casa de Israel es la viña de Dios que Él plantó y regó, preparando a los israelitas para dar frutos de justicia (cf. Is 5,7; 27,2-5).

Israel no produjo frutos buenos y el Señor permitió que su viña, el reino de Israel, fuera invadida por conquistadores (cf. Sal 80, 9-20). Pero Dios prometió que un día replantaría su viña y sus brotes florecerían hasta los confines de la tierra (cf. Am 9,15; Os 14, 5-10).

Esto es el trasfondo bíblico de la parábola de Jesús sobre la historia de la salvación que presenta el Evangelio de hoy. Dios es el dueño. La viña es el reino. Los trabajadores contratados al amanecer son los israelitas, los primeros a quienes Él ofreció su alianza. Los que son contratados después son los gentiles, los no israelitas, quienes hasta la venida de Cristo eran extraños a las alianzas y promesas (cf. Ef 2,11-13). En la gran misericordia de Dios, el mismo sueldo, las mismas bendiciones prometidas a los primeros llamados -los israelitas- serán pagados a los que fueron llamados por último, al resto de las naciones.

Estas palabras provocan murmuraciones en la parábola de hoy. Las quejas de esos primeros trabajadores, ¿no suenan acaso como las del hermano mayor de la parábola del hijo pródigo? (cf. Lc 15,29-30). Los caminos de Dios, sin embargo, están lejos de los nuestros, como escuchamos en la primera lectura de hoy. Y las lecturas de hoy deberían prevenirnos contra la tentación de renegar de la generosa misericordia divina.

Como los gentiles, muchos serán admitidos al final para entrar en el reino, luego de pasar la mayoría de sus días holgazaneando en el pecado.

Pero incluso estos pueden acudir a Él y encontrarlo cerca, como cantamos en el salmo de este día. Debemos regocijarnos de que Dios tenga compasión hacia todos los que ha creado. Eso nos debería consolar, especialmente si somos de los que permanecen lejos de la viña.

Nuestra tarea consiste en seguir trabajando en su viña. Como San Pablo dice en la epístola de hoy, conduzcámonos dignamente luchando para que todo hombre y mujer alabe su Nombre.

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Readings
Isaiah 55:6-9
Psalm145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18
Philippians 1:20-24, 27
Matthew 20:1-16

The house of Israel is the vine of God - who planted and watered it, preparing the Israelites to bear fruits of righteousness (see Isaiah 5:7; 27:2-5).

Israel failed to yield good fruits and the Lord allowed His vineyard, Israel's kingdom, to be overrun by conquerors (see Psalm 80:9-20). But God promised that one day He would replant His vineyard and its shoots would blossom to the ends of the earth (see Amos 9:15; Hosea 14:5-10).

This is the biblical backdrop to Jesus' parable of salvation history in today's Gospel. The landowner is God. The vineyard is the kingdom. The workers hired at dawn are the Israelites, to whom He first offered His covenant. Those hired later in the day are the Gentiles, the non-Israelites, who, until the coming of Christ, were strangers to the covenants of promise (see Ephesians 2:11-13). In the Lord's great generosity, the same wages, the same blessings promised to the first-called, the Israelites, will be paid to those called last, the rest of the nations.

This provokes grumbling in today's parable. Doesn't the complaint of those first laborers sound like that of the older brother in Jesus' prodigal son parable (see Luke 15:29-30)? God's ways, however, are far from our ways, as we hear in today's First Reading. And today's readings should caution us against the temptation to resent God's lavish mercy.

Like the Gentiles, many will be allowed to enter the kingdom late - after having spent most of their days idling in sin.

But even these can call upon Him and find Him near, as we sing in today's Pslam. We should rejoice that God has compassion on all whom He has created. This should console us, too, especially if we have loved ones who remain far from the vineyard.

Our task is to continue laboring in His vineyard. As Paul says in today's Epistle, let us conduct ourselves worthily, struggling to bring all men and women to the praise of His name.

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Lecturas:

Daniel 7, 9-10, 13-14
Salmo 97, 1-2, 5-6, 9
2 Pedro 1, 16-19
Matteo 17, 1-9

El evangelio de este domingo muestra cómo Cristo, mediante su Transfiguración,  revela su verdadera identidad en la cima de la montaña santa.

Situado en medio de Moisés y Elías, Jesús es el puente que une la Ley antigua,  los profetas y los salmos (Cfr. Lc 24, 24-27). Como Moisés, Jesús sube a la montaña con tres acompañantes cuyos nombres conocemos y contempla la gloria de Dios en una nube (Cfr. Ex 24, 1,9,15). Como Elías, Él también escucha la voz de Dios en la montaña (1R 19, 8-19).

Según la profecía, Elías tenía que regresar como heraldo del Mesías y de la Nueva Alianza con el Señor (Cfr. Ml 3,1, 23-24). Jesús se revela ahora como ese Mesías. Por su muerte y resurrección, como él lo dice en la intimidad a sus  apóstoles,  hace una Nueva Alianza con toda la Creación.

La voz majestuosa anuncia a Jesús como el mismo Hijo amado de Dios, en quien el Padre se complace (Cfr. S 2,7). Con esas palabras,  Dios nos permite asomarnos brevemente a su interior. En la nube que representa el Espíritu Santo, el Padre revela su amor hacia el Hijo y nos invita a compartir ese amor como hijos suyos bienamados.

Envuelto en las nubes del cielo, con sus vestiduras resplandecientes, Jesús es el Hijo del Hombre cuya entronización profetiza  Daniel en la primera lectura de este domingo.

Él es el rey, el Señor de toda la tierra, como cantamos en el salmo de este domingo. Pero debemos preguntarnos,  ¿es también Cristo el Señor de nuestra mente y de nuestro corazón?

En el Evangelio de hoy, la última palabra que Dios dice desde el cielo es un mandato: “Escúchenlo” (Cfr. Dt 18, 15-19).

La palabra del Señor debería ser una luz que brilla en las tinieblas, como nos dice San Pedro en la segunda lectura. Sin embargo, ¿estamos realmente escuchando? ¿Ponemos atención a su Palabra cada día?

Dispongámonos nuevamente a escuchar.  Oigamos a Cristo como Palabra de vida; contemplémoslo como radiante Lucero del alba (Cfr. Ap 2, 28; 22,16) que aguarda el momento de levantarse en el interior de nuestros corazones.

Direct download: Al_Partir_El_Pan_La_Transfiguracion_del_Senor.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:53am EDT

Readings:

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
Psalm 97:1-2, 5-6, 9
2 Peter 1:16-19
Matthew 17:1-9

High on the holy mountain in today's Gospel, the true identity of Jesus is fully revealed in His transfiguration.

Standing between Moses and the prophet Elijah, Jesus is the bridge that joins the Law of Moses to the prophets and psalms (see Luke 24:24-27). As Moses did, Jesus climbs a mountain with three named friends and beholds God's glory in a cloud (see Exodus 24:1,9,15). As Elijah did, He hears God's voice on the mountain (see 1 Kings 19:8-19).

Elijah was prophesied to return as the herald of the messiah and the Lord's new covenant (see Malachi 3:1,23-24). Jesus is revealed today as that messiah. By His death and resurrection, which He intimates today to the apostles, He makes a new covenant with all creation.

The majestic voice declares Jesus to be God's own beloved Son, in whom the Father is well pleased (see Psalm 2:7). God here gives us a glimpse of His inner life. In the cloud of the Holy Spirit, the Father reveals His love for the Son, and invites us to share in that love, as His beloved sons and daughters.

Shadowed by the clouds of heaven, His clothes dazzling white, Jesus is the Son of Man whom Daniel foresees being enthroned in today's First Reading.

He is the king, the Lord of all the earth, as we sing in today's Psalm. But is He truly the Lord of our hearts and minds?

The last word God speaks from heaven today is a command -- "Listen to Him" (see Deuteronomy 18:15-19). The word of the Lord should be like a lamp shining in the darkness of our days, as Peter tells us in today's First Reading.

How well are we listening? Do we attend to His word each day?

Let us today rededicate ourselves to listening. Let us hear Him as the word of life, the bright morning star of divine life waiting to arise in our hearts (see Revelation 2:28; 22:16).

Direct download: Breaking_the_Bread_Transfiguration_Reflection.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 11:46am EDT

Lecturas:
Sabiduría 12,13.16–19
Salmo 86,5–6.9–10.15–16
Romanos 8, 26–27
Mateo 13, 24–43

Dios está siempre instruyendo a su pueblo, escuchamos en la primera lectura de esta semana.

¿Y qué quiere hacernos saber? Que se preocupa por todos nosotros; que aunque es un Dios de justicia, aún los que lo desafían y dudan de Él, pueden esperar en su misericordia si regresan a Él arrepentidos.

Esta enseñanza divina continúa en las tres parábolas que Jesús cuenta en el Evangelio de hoy. Cada una describe el surgimiento del reino de Dios de semillas sembradas por su trabajo y predicación. El reino crece de manera oculta—como la acción de la levadura en el pan, que es improbable, inesperada. De igual manera sucede con el gran árbol de mostaza, que crece de la más pequeña de las semillas.

Una vez más, las lecturas de esta semana cuestionan: ¿Porqué Dios permite al mal crecer al lado del bien? ¿Porqué permite que algunos rechacen la Palabra de su reino? Porque, como cantamos en el salmo dominical, Dios es lento a la cólera y rico en bondad.

Jesús nos asegura que es justo: Los malvados y los que inducen a otros al pecado, serán arrojados en el horno encendido al final de los tiempos. Pero por su paciencia Dios nos enseña que, sobre todo, desea arrepentimiento; y quiere reunir a todas las naciones para que lo adoren y glorifiquen su Nombre.

Aunque no sabemos orar como deberíamos, el Espíritu intercede por nosotros, nos promete San Pablo en la epístola dominical. Pero primero hemos de volver a Él y llamarlo; debemos comprometernos a dejar que la buena semilla de su Palabra dé frutos en nuestras vidas.

Por tanto, no debemos engañarnos ni descorazonarnos cuando vemos cizaña entre el trigo, verdad y santidad mezclada con error, injusticia y pecado.

Por ahora, Él hace salir su sol sobre buenos y malos (cf. Mt 5,45). Pero la cosecha se acerca. Trabajemos para que seamos contados entre los hijos justos, que brillarán como el sol en el reino del Padre.

Direct download: A_16_Ordinary_Spn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:15pm EDT

Readings:
Wisdom 12:13, 16–19
Psalm 86:5–6, 9–10, 15–16
Romans 8:26–27
Matthew 13:24–43

God is always teaching His people, we hear in today’s First Reading.

And what does He want us to know? That He has care for all of us, that though He is a God of justice, even those who defy and disbelieve Him may hope for His mercy if they turn to Him in repentance.

This divine teaching continues in the three parables that Jesus tells in the Gospel today. Each describes the emergence of the kingdom of God from the seeds sown by His works and preaching. The kingdom’s growth is hidden—like the working of yeast in bread; it’s improbable, unexpected—as in the way the tall mustard tree grows from the smallest of seeds.

Again this week’s readings sound a note of questioning: Why does God permit the evil to grow alongside the good? Why does He permit some to reject the Word of His kingdom?

Because, as we sing in today’s Psalm, God is slow to anger and abounding in kindness. He is just, Jesus assures us—evildoers and those who cause others to sin will be thrown into the fiery furnace at the end of the age. But by His patience, God is teaching us—that above all He desires repentance, and the gathering of all nations to worship Him and to glorify His name.

Even though we don’t know how to pray as we ought, the Spirit will intercede for us, Paul promises in today’s Epistle. But first we must turn and call upon Him, we must commit ourselves to letting the good seed of His Word bear fruit in our lives.

So we should not be deceived or lose heart when we see weeds among the wheat, truth and holiness mixed with error, injustice and sin.

For now, He makes His sun rise on the good and the bad (see Matthew 5:45). But the harvest draws near. Let’s work that we might be numbered among the righteous children—who will shine like the sun in the kingdom of the Father.

Direct download: Breaking_the_Bread_16th_Sunday_Reflection.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:15pm EDT

Lecturas:
Éxodo 34, 4–6.8–9
Daniel 3, 52–56
2 Corintios 13, 11–13
Juan 3,16–18

Frecuentemente comenzamos la Misa con la oración tomada de la epístola de hoy: “La gracia de nuestro Señor Jesucristo, el amor del Padre y la comunión del Espíritu Santo estén con ustedes”. Alabamos al Dios que se ha revelado a Sí mismo como Trinidad, como comunión de personas.

La comunión con la Trinidad es la meta de nuestra adoración y el propósito de la historia de la salvación que comienza en la Biblia y continúa en la Eucaristía y en los sacramentos de la Iglesia.

En la primera lectura vemos los inicios de la autorevelación de Dios, cuando pasa frente a Moisés y proclama su nombre santo. Israel había pecado en adorar al becerro de oro (cf. Ex 32). Pero Dios no los condena a perecer, sino que proclama su misericordia y fidelidad a su alianza.

Dios amó a Israel como su primogénito entre las naciones (cf. Ex 4,22). Por medio de Israel—heredero de su alianza con Abraham—, Dios planeó revelarse como el Padre de todas las naciones (cf. Gn 22,18).

El recuerdo de la prueba de alianza que Dios pidió a Abraham—y la obediencia fiel de Abraham—es el trasfondo del Evangelio de este día. Al ordenarle a Abraham que le ofreciera su amado hijo único (cf, Gn 22,2.12.16), Dios nos estaba preparando para la más completa revelación de su amor por el mundo. Así como Abraham estaba dispuesto a ofrecer a Isaac, Dios no perdonó a su propio Hijo, sino que lo entregó por todos nosotros (cf. Rm 8,32).

Con ello reveló lo que sólo a Moisés fue descubierto parcialmente, que su bondad perdura por mil generaciones, que perdona nuestro pecado y nos toma de vuelta como pueblo de su propiedad (cf. Dt 4,20; 9,29).

Jesús se humilló a sí mismo hasta morir en obediencia a la voluntad de Dios. Y por esto, el Espíritu de Dios lo levantó de la muerte (cf. Rm 8,11) y le dio un nombre que está sobre todo nombre (cf. Fl 2,8–10).

Ese es el nombre que glorificamos en el salmo de hoy: el nombre de nuestro Señor, el Dios que es Amor (cf. 1Jn 4,8.16).

Direct download: A_Trinity_Spn_2017.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:05pm EDT

 

Isaiah 49:14–15

Psalm 62:2–3, 6–9

1 Corinthians 4:1–5

Matthew 6:24–24

 

We are by nature prone to be anxious and troubled about many things.

In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus confronts us with our most common fears. We are anxious mostly about how we will meet our material needs—for food and drink; for clothing; for security for tomorrow.

Yet in seeking security and comfort, we may unwittingly be handing ourselves over to servitude to “mammon,” Jesus warns. “Mammon” is an Aramaic word that refers to money or possessions.

Jesus is not condemning wealth. Nor is he saying that we shouldn’t work to earn our daily bread or to make provisions for our future.

It is a question of priorities and goals. What are we living for? Where is God in our lives?

Jesus insists that we need only to have faith in God and to trust in his Providence.

The readings this Sunday pose a challenge to us. Do we really believe that God cares for us, that he alone can provide for all our needs?

Do we believe that he loves us more than a mother loves the infant at her breast, as God himself promises in this week’s beautiful First Reading? Do we really trust that he is our rock and salvation, as we sing in the Psalm?

Jesus calls us to an intense realism about our lives. For all our worrying, none of us change the span of our days. None of us has anything that we have not received as a gift from God (see 1 Cor. 4:7).

St. Paul reminds us in the Epistle that when the Lord comes he will disclose the purposes of every heart.

We cannot serve both God and mammon. We must choose one or the other. Our faith cannot be partial. We must put our confidence in him and not be shaken by anxiety.

Let us resolve today to seek his Kingdom and his holiness before all else—confident that we are beloved sons and daughters, and that our Father in heaven will never forsake us.

Direct download: A_8_Ordinary_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 10:13am EDT

 

Readings:

Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13

Psalm 146:6-10

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Matthew 5:1-12

In the readings since Christmas, Jesus has been revealed as the new royal son of David and Son of God. He is sent to lead a new exodus that brings Israel out of captivity to the nations and brings all the nations to God.

As Moses led Israel from Egypt through the sea to give them God's law on Mount Sinai, Jesus too has passed through the waters in baptism. Now, in today's Gospel, He goes to the mountain to proclaim a new law—the law of His Kingdom.

The Beatitudes mark the fulfillment of God's covenant promise to Abraham—that through his descendants all the nations of the world would receive God's blessings (see Genesis 12:3; 22:18).

Jesus is the son of Abraham (see Matthew 1:1). And through the wisdom He speaks today, He bestows the Father's blessings upon "the poor in spirit."

God has chosen to bless the weak and lowly, those foolish and despised in the eyes of the world, Paul says in today's Epistle. The poor in spirit are those who know that nothing they do can merit God's mercy and grace. These are the humble remnant in today's First Reading—taught to seek refuge in the name of the Lord.

The Beatitudes reveal the divine path and purpose for our lives. All our striving should be for these virtues—to be poor in spirit; meek and clean of heart; merciful and makers of peace; seekers of the righteousness that comes from living by the law of Kingdom.

The path the Lord sets before us today is one of trials and persecution. But He promises comfort in our mourning and a great reward.

The Kingdom we have inherited is no earthly territory, but the promised land of heaven. It is Zion where the Lord reigns forever. And, as we sing in today's Psalm, its blessings are for those whose hope is in the Lord.

Direct download: A_4_Ordinary_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

 

 

Readings:

Isaiah 49:3,5-6

Psalm 40:2,4,7-10

1 Corinthians 1:1-3

John 1:29-34

 

Jesus speaks through the prophet Isaiah in today's First Reading.

He tells us of the mission given to Him by the Father from the womb: "'You are My servant,' He said to Me."

Servant and Son, our Lord was sent to lead a new exodus - to raise up the exiled tribes of Israel, to gather and restore them to God. More than that, He was to be a light to the nations, that God's salvation may reach to the ends of the earth (see Acts 13:46-47).

Before the first exodus, a lamb was offered in sacrifice and its blood painted on the Israelites' door posts. The blood of the lamb identified their homes and the Lord "passed over" these in executing judgment on the Egyptians (see Exodus 12:1-23,27).

In the new exodus, Jesus is the "Lamb of God," as John beholds Him in the Gospel today (see 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Our Lord sings of this in today's Psalm. He has come, He says, to offer His body to do the will of God (see Hebrews 10:3-13).

The sacrifices, oblations, holocausts, and sin-offerings given after the first exodus had no power to take away sins (see Hebrews 10:4). They were meant not to save but to teach (see Galatians 3:24). In offering these sacrifices, the people were to learn self-sacrifice - that they were made for worship, to offer themselves freely to God and to delight in His will.

Only Jesus could make that perfect offering of himself. And through His sacrifice, He has given us ears open to obedience, made it possible for us to hear the Father's call to holiness, as Paul says in today's Epistle.

He has made us children of God, baptized in the blood of the Lamb (see Revelation 7:14). And we are to join our sacrifice to His, to offer our bodies - our lives - as living sacrifices in the spiritual worship of the Mass (see Romans 12:1).

Direct download: A_2_Ordinary_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 10:03am EDT

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