Letters From Home

Acts 5:27–32, 40–41
Psalm 30:2, 4–6, 11–13
Revelation 5:11–14
John 21:1–19

There are two places in Scripture where the curious detail of a “charcoal fire” is mentioned. One is in today’s Gospel, where the Apostles return from fishing to find bread and fish warming on the fire.

The other is in the scene in the High Priest’s courtyard on Holy Thursday, where Peter and some guards and slaves warm themselves while Jesus is being interrogated inside (see John 18:18).

At the first fire, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times, as Jesus had predicted (see John 13:38; 18:15–18, 25–27).

Today’s charcoal fire becomes the scene of Peter’s repentance, as three times Jesus asks him to make a profession of love. Jesus’ thrice repeated command, “feed My sheep,” shows that Peter is being appointed as the shepherd of the Lord’s entire flock, the head of His Church (see also Luke 22:32).

Jesus’ question, “Do you love me more than these?” is a pointed reminder of Peter’s pledge to lay down his life for Jesus, even if the other Apostles might weaken (see John 13:37; Matthew 26:33; Luke 22:33).

Jesus then explains just what Peter’s love and leadership will require, foretelling Peter’s death by crucifixion (“you will stretch out your hands”).

Before His own death, Jesus had warned the Apostles that they would be hated as He was hated, that they would suffer as He suffered (see Matthew 10:16–19, 22; John 15:18–20; 16:2).

We see the beginnings of that persecution in today’s First Reading. Flogged as Jesus was, the Apostles nonetheless leave “rejoicing that they have been found worthy to suffer.”

Their joy is based on their faith that God will change their “mourning into dancing,” as we sing in today’s Psalm. By their sufferings, they know, they will be counted worthy to stand in heaven before “the Lamb that was slain,” a scene glimpsed in today’s Second Reading (see also Revelation 6:9–11).

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Acts 5:12–16
Psalm 118:2–4, 13–15, 22–24
Revelation 1:9–13, 17–19
John 20:19–31

The prophet Daniel in a vision saw “One like the Son of Man” receive everlasting kingship (see Daniel 7:9–14). John is taken to heaven in today’s Second Reading where he sees Daniel’s prophecy fulfilled in Jesus, who appears as “One like a Son of Man.”

Jesus is clad in the robe of a High Priest (see Exodus 28:4; Wisdom 18:24) and wearing the gold sash of a king (see 1 Maccabees 10:89). He has been exalted by the right hand of the Lord, as we sing in today’s Psalm.

His risen body, which the Apostles touch in today’s Gospel, has been made a lifegiving Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 15:45).

As the Father anointed Him with the Spirit and power (see Acts 10:38), Jesus pours out that Spirit on the Apostles, sending them into the world “as the Father has sent Me.”

Jesus “breathes” the Spirit of His divine life into the Apostles—as God blew the “breath of life” into Adam (see Genesis 2:7), as Elijah’s prayer returned “the life breath” to the dead child (see 1 Kings 17:21–23), and as the Spirit breathed new life into the slain in the valley of bones (see Ezekiel 37:9–10).

His creative breath unites the Apostles—His Church—to His body, and empowers them to breathe His life into a dying world, to make it a new creation.

In today’s Gospel and First Reading, we see the Apostles fulfilling this mission with powers only God possesses—the power to forgive sins and to work “signs an wonders,” a biblical expression only used to describe the mighty works of God (see Exodus 7:3; 11:10; Acts 7:36).

Thomas and the others saw “many other signs” after Jesus was raised from the dead. They saw and they believed. They have been given His life, which continues in the Church’s Word and
sacraments, so that we who have not seen might inherit His blessings and “have life in His name.”

Direct download: Divine_Mercy_16.mp3
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Acts 10:34, 37–43
Psalm 118:1–2, 16–17, 22–23
Colossians 3:1–4
John 20:1–9

Jesus is nowhere visible. Yet today’s Gospel tells us that Peter and John “saw and believed.”

What did they see? Burial shrouds lying on the floor of an empty tomb. Maybe that convinced them that He hadn’t been carted off by grave robbers, who usually stole the expensive burial linens and left the corpses behind.

But notice the repetition of the word “tomb”—seven times in nine verses. They saw the empty tomb and they believed what He had promised: that God would raise Him on the third day.

Chosen to be His “witnesses,” today’s First Reading tells us, the Apostles were “commissioned . . . to preach . . . and testify” to all that they had seen—from His anointing with the Holy Spirit at the Jordan to the empty tomb.

More than their own experience, they were instructed in the mysteries of the divine economy, God’s saving plan—to know how “all the prophets bear witness” to Him (see Luke 24:27, 44).

Now they could “understand the Scripture,” could teach us what He had told them—that He was “the Stone which the builders rejected,” that today’s Psalm prophesies His Resurrection and exaltation (see Luke 20:17; Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11).

We are the children of the apostolic witnesses. That is why we still gather early in the morning on the first day of every week to celebrate this feast of the empty tomb, give thanks for “Christ our life,” as today’s Epistle calls Him.

Baptized into His death and Resurrection, we live the heavenly life of the risen Christ, our lives “hidden with Christ in God.” We are now His witnesses, too. But we testify to things we cannot see but only believe; we seek in earthly things what is above.

We live in memory of the Apostles’ witness, like them eating and drinking with the risen Lord at the altar. And we wait in hope for what the Apostles told us would come—the day when we too “will appear with Him in glory.”

Direct download: C_Easter_16.mp3
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Hechos 10,34.37–43
Salmo 118,1–2.16–17.22–23
Colosenses 3,1–4
Juan 20,1–9

Jesús no es en modo alguno visible. Sin embargo, el Evangelio de hoy nos dice que Pedro y Juan “vieron y creyeron”.

¿Qué fue lo que vieron? Lienzos en el piso de una tumba vacía. Talvez eso fue lo les convenció de que no se lo habían llevado ladrones, pues normalmente ellos se robaban los costosos lienzos sepulcrales y dejaban los cuerpos.

Sin embargo, es notoria la repetición –siete veces en nueve versículos- de la palabra “tumba”. Ellos vieron la tumba vacía y creyeron en la promesa que Él les había hecho: que Dios lo resucitaría al tercer día.

La primera lectura de hoy nos dice que los Apóstoles fueron elegidos para ser sus testigos; Cristo les dio el encargo de “predicar…y testificar” a todo el mundo lo que habían visto, desde su unción con el Espíritu Santo en el Jordán, hasta el episodio de la tumba vacía.

Más allá de su propia experiencia, los apóstoles fueron instruídos en los misterios de la economía divina, en el plan de salvación de Dios: aprendieron todo aquello que los profetas habían testificado sobre Él (cfr. Lc 24,24.44).

Ahora podían “comprender las Escrituras” y enseñarnos lo que Jesús les había dicho: que Él era la “Piedra angular” rechazada por los constructores, de quien el salmo de hoy profetiza la resurrección y exaltación (cfr. Lc 20,17; Mt 21,42; Hch 4,11).

Somos los hijos de los testigos apostólicos. Es por ello que seguimos congregándonos temprano, en la mañana del primer día de la semana, para celebrar esta fiesta de la tumba vacía y dar gracias por “Cristo vida nuestra”, como le llama la epístola de hoy.

Al haber sido bautizados en su Muerte y Resurrección, vivimos la vida divina del Cristo resucitado; nuestras vidas están “ocultas con Cristo en Dios”. Ahora somos también sus testigos. Sin embargo, testificamos cosas que no hemos visto, sino sólo creído; buscamos entre las cosas de la tierra lo que está arriba.

Lo que los Apóstoles testificaron, nosotros lo vivimos ahora en memorial. Como ellos, comemos y bebemos con el Señor resucitado en el altar. Y esperamos confiados en lo que ellos nos anunciaron: el día en el que apareceremos “juntamente con Él en gloria”.

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Isaiah 50:4–7
Psalm 22:8–9, 17–20, 23–24
Philippians 2:6–11
Luke 22:14–23:56

“What is written about Me is coming to fulfillment,” Jesus says in today’s Gospel (see Luke 22:37).

Indeed, we have reached the climax of the liturgical year, the highest peak of salvation history, when all that has been anticipated and promised is to be fulfilled.

By the close of today’s long Gospel, the work of our redemption will have been accomplished, the new covenant will be written in the blood of His broken body hanging on the cross at the place called the Skull.

In His Passion, Jesus is “counted among the wicked,” as Isaiah had foretold (see Isaiah 53:12). He is revealed definitively as the Suffering Servant the prophet announced, the long-awaited Messiah whose words of obedience and faith ring out in today’s First Reading and Psalm.

The taunts and torments we hear in these two readings punctuate the Gospel as Jesus is beaten and mocked (see Luke 22:63–65; 23:10–11, 16), as His hands and feet are pierced (see Luke 23:33), as enemies gamble for His clothes (see Luke 23:34), and as three times they dare Him to prove His divinity by saving Himself from suffering (see Luke 23:35, 37, 39).

He remains faithful to God’s will to the end, does not turn back in His trial. He gives Himself freely to His torturers, confident that, as He speaks in today’s First Reading: “The Lord God is My help . . . I shall not be put to shame.”

Destined to sin and death as children of Adam’s disobedience, we have been set free for holiness and life by Christ’s perfect obedience to the Father’s will (see Romans 5:12–14, 17–19; Ephesians 2:2; 5:6).

This is why God greatly exalted Him. This is why we have salvation in His Name. Following His example of humble obedience in the trials and crosses of our lives, we know we will never be forsaken, that one day we too will be with Him in Paradise (see Luke 23:42). Seeing and Believing.

Direct download: C_Passion_16.mp3
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Isaías 50,4–7
Salmo 22,8–9, 17–20, 23–24
Filipenses 2,6–11
Lucas 22,14–23, 56

“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).

Direct download: C_Passion_Spn_16.mp3
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Isaiah 43:16–21
Psalm 126:1–6
Philippians 3:8–14
John 8:1–11

The Liturgy this Lent has shown us the God of the Exodus. He is a mighty and gracious God, Who out of faithfulness to His covenant has done “great things” for His people, as today’s Psalm puts it.

But the “things of long ago,” Isaiah tells us in today’s First Reading, are nothing compared to the “something new” that He will do in the future.

Today’s First Reading and Psalm look back to the marvelous deeds of the Exodus. Both see in the Exodus a pattern and prophecy of the future, when God will restore the fortunes of His people fallen in sin. The readings today look forward to a still greater Exodus, when God will gather in the exiled tribes of Israel that had been scattered to the four winds, the ends of the

The new Exodus that Israel waited and hoped for has come in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Like the adulterous woman in today’s Gospel, all have been spared by the Lord’s compassion. All have heard His words of forgiveness, His urging to repentance, to be sinners no more. Like Paul in today’s Epistle, Christ has taken possession of every one, claimed each as a child of our heavenly Father.

In the Church, God has formed a people for Himself to announce His praise, just as Isaiah said He would. And as Isaiah promised, He has given His “chosen people” living waters to drink in the desert wastelands of the world (see John 7:37–39).

But our God is ever a God of the future, not of the past. We are to live with hopeful hearts, “forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead,” as Paul tells us. His salvation, Paul says, is power in the present, “the power of His resurrection.”

We are to live awaiting a still greater and final Exodus, pursuing “the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling,” striving in faith to attain the last new thing God promises—”the resurrection of the dead.”

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

Isaías 43,16-21
Salmo 126,1-6
Filipenses 3,8-14
Juan 8,1-11

Esta cuaresma, la Liturgia nos ha mostrado al Dios del Éxodo. Un Dios poderoso y lleno de gracia que, absolutamente fiel a su Alianza, ha hecho “grandes cosas” por su pueblo, como señala el salmo de hoy.

Pero, como nos dice Isaías en la primera lectura de hoy, las “cosas del pasado” son nada comparadas con ese “algo nuevo” que Dios hará en el futuro.

La primera lectura y el salmo de este día miran hacia atrás, hacia las maravillosas proezas del Éxodo. Ambos ven en el Éxodo un patrón y una profecía para el futuro, cuando Dios restaurará la suerte de su pueblo, caído en el pecado. Pero las lecturas de hoy apuntan más adelante, a un Éxodo todavía más grande, cuando Dios reunirá a las tribus exiliadas de Israel, que han sido dispersadas a los cuatro vientos, a los confines de la tierra.

El nuevo Éxodo, aquel que Israel aguardaba con esperanza, ha llegado en la muerte y resurrección de Jesús. Como la mujer adúltera del Evangelio, todos han sido disculpados por la compasión del Señor.

Todos han escuchado sus palabras de perdón, su llamado urgente al arrepentimiento, su invitación a dejar el pecado. Cristo ha tomado posesión de cada uno de nosotros y nos ha reclamado como hijos del Padre celestial, como lo ha hecho con Pablo según la epístola de hoy.

En la Iglesia, Dios ha formado un pueblo para anunciar sus alabanzas, según predijo Isaías. Y como el profeta prometió, ha dado a su “pueblo escogido” aguas vivas para beber en medio del desierto del mundo (cfr. Jn 7,37-39).

Pero nuestro Dios es siempre un Dios del futuro, no del pasado. Por ello debemos vivir con corazones confiados, olvidando lo que hemos dejado atrás y lanzándonos hacia lo que está adelante, como nos dice San Pablo.

Su salvación es el poder en el presente, “el poder de Su resurrección.”

Vivimos esperando un Éxodo mayor y último, perseguiendo “la meta, el premio de la llamada de Dios hacia arriba”, luchando con fe para alcanzar la última cosa nueva que promete Dios, “la resurrección de los muertos.”

Direct download: C_5_Lent_Spn_16.mp3
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