Letters From Home

Isaiah 60:1–6
Psalm 72:1–2, 7–8, 10–13
Ephesians 3:2–3, 5–6
Matthew 2:1–12

An “epiphany” is an appearance. In today’s readings, with their rising stars, splendorous lights, and mysteries revealed, the face of the child born on Christmas day appears.

Herod, in today’s Gospel, asks the chief priests and scribes where the Messiah is to be born. The answer Matthew puts on their lips says much more, combining two strands of Old Testament promise—one revealing the Messiah to be from the line of David (see 2 Samuel 2:5), the other predicting “a ruler of Israel” who will “shepherd his flock” and whose “greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth” (see Micah 5:1–3).

Those promises of Israel’s king ruling the nations resound also in today’s Psalm. The psalm celebrates David’s son, Solomon. His kingdom, we sing, will stretch “to the ends of the earth,” and the world’s kings will pay Him homage. That’s the scene too in today’s First Reading, as nations stream from the East, bearing “gold and frankincense” for Israel’s king.

The Magi’s pilgrimage in today’s Gospel marks the fulfillment of God’s promises. The Magi, probably Persian astrologers, are following the star that Balaam predicted would rise along with the ruler’s staff over the house of Jacob (see Numbers 24:17).

Laden with gold and spices, their journey evokes those made to Solomon by the Queen of Sheba and the “kings of the earth” (see 1 Kings 10:2, 25; 2 Chronicles 9:24). Interestingly, the only other places where frankincense and myrrh are mentioned together are in songs about Solomon (see Song of Songs 3:6, 4:6, 14).

One greater than Solomon is here (see Luke 11:31). He has come to reveal that all peoples are “co-heirs” of the royal family of Israel, as today’s Epistle teaches.

His manifestation forces us to choose: Will we follow the signs that lead to Him as the wise Magi did? Or will we be like those priests and the scribes who let God’s words of promise become dead letters on an ancient page?

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

Sirach 3:2–6, 12–14
Psalm 128:1–5
Colossians 3:12–21
Matthew 2:13–15, 19–23

Underlying the wisdom offered in today’s Liturgy is the mystery of the family in God’s divine plan.

The Lord has set father in honor over his children and mother in authority over her sons, we hear in today’s First Reading. As we sing in today’s Psalm, the blessings of the family flow from Zion, the heavenly mother of the royal people of God (see Isaiah 66:7, 10–13; Galatians 4:26).

And in the drama of today’s Gospel, we see the nucleus of the new people of God—the Holy Family—facing persecution from those who would seek to destroy the child and His Kingdom.

Moses, called to save God’s first born son, the people of Israel (see Exodus 4:22; Sirach 36:11), was also threatened at birth by a mad and jealous tyrant (see Exodus 1:15–16). And as Moses was saved by his mother and sister (see Exodus 2:1–10; 4:19), in God’s plan Jesus too is rescued by His family.

As once God took the family of Jacob down to Egypt to make them the great nation Israel (see Genesis 46:2–4), God leads the Holy Family to Egypt to prepare the coming of the new Israel of God—the Church (see Galatians 6:16).

At the beginning of the world, God established the family in the “marriage” of Adam and Eve, the two becoming one body (see Genesis 2:22–24). Now in the new creation, Christ is made “one body” with His bride, the Church, as today’s Epistle indicates (see Ephesians 5:21–32).

By this union we are made God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved. And our families are to radiate the perfect love that binds us to Christ in the Church.

As we approach the altar on this feast, let us renew our commitment to our God-given duties as spouses, children and parents. Mindful of the promises of today’s First Reading, let us offer our quiet performance of these duties for the atonement of our sins.

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

Sirácide 3,2-6.12-14
Salmo 128,1-2.3.4-5
Colosenses 3,12-21
Mateo 2,13-15, 19-23

El misterio de la familia en el plan de Dios subyace en la sabiduría que se ofrece en la liturgia de hoy.

En la primera lectura de hoy escuchamos que Dios ha puesto al padre en el lugar de honor frente a sus hijos y afirma la autoridad de la madre sobre su prole. Como cantamos en el salmo, las bendiciones de la familia fluyen desde Sión, la madre celestial del pueblo real de Dios (cf. Is 66,7.10-13; Ga 4,26).

Y en el drama del Evangelio de hoy, vemos el núcleo del nuevo pueblo de Dios -la Sagrada Familia- sufriendo la persecución de quienes buscan destruir al niño y su Reino.

También Moisés -que fue llamado a salvar al hijo primogénito de Dios, el pueblo de Israel (cf. Ex 4,22; Si 36,11)-, fue también amenazado al nacer, por un tirano celoso y enfadado (cf. Ex 1,15-16). Y así como Moisés fue salvado por su madre y su hermana (cf. Ex 2,1-10; 4,19), Jesús también es rescatado por su familia, de acuerdo el plan de Dios.

Así como Dios llamó a Egipto a la familia de Jacob, para convertirla en la gran nación de Israel (cf. Gn 46,2-4), Dios guía hacia allá a la Sagrada Familia para preparar la venida del nuevo Israel de Dios: la Iglesia (cf. Ga 6,16).

Al comienzo del mundo, Dios estableció la familia en el “matrimonio” de Adán y Eva, y los dos se hicieron un solo cuerpo (cf. Gn 2,22-24). Ahora, en la nueva creación, Cristo es hecho “un cuerpo” con su Esposa, la Iglesia, como nos indica la Epístola (cf. Ef 5,21-32).

Por esta unión nos convertimos en elegidos de Dios, santos y amados. Y nuestras familias han de irradiar el amor perfecto que nos liga a Cristo en la Iglesia.

Mientras nos acercamos al altar en esta fiesta, renovemos nuestros compromisos de cumplir con los deberes que Dios nos ha encargado como esposos, hijos y padres. Conscientes de las promesas de la primera lectura de hoy, ofrezcamos el cumplimiento callado de esos deberes, en expiación por nuestros pecados.

Direct download: A_Holy_Family_Spn_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Isaiah 52:7–10
Psalms 98:1–6
Hebrews 1:1–6
John 1:1–18

The Church’s liturgy rings in Christmas with a joyful noise. We hear today of uplifted voices, trumpets and horns, and melodies of praise.

In the First Reading, Isaiah fortells Israel’s liberation from captivity and exile in Babylon. He envisions a triumphant homecoming to Zion marked by joyful singing.

The new song in today’s Psalm is a victory hymn to the marvelous deeds done by our God and King.

Both the prophet and psalmist sing of God’s power and salvation. God has shown the might of His holy arm, they say. This language recalls the Exodus, where the people first sang of God’s powerful arm that shattered Israel’s enemy Egypt (see Exod. 15:1, 6, 16).

The coming of the Christ child into the world fulfills all that the Exodus and the return from exile prefigured.

In Jesus, all nations to the ends of the earth will see the victory of God over the forces of sin and death.

Jesus is the new King. He is the royal firstborn son and Son of God promised to David, as we hear in today’s Epistle (see Ps. 2:7; 2 Sam. 7:14).

And as our Gospel reveals, He is the Word of God, the one through whom the universe was created, the one through whom the universe is sustained.

In speaking to us through His Son, God has unveiled a new age, the last days.

The new age is a new creation. In the beginning, God spoke His Word and light shone in the darkness. Now, in this new age, He sends us the true light to scatter the darkness of a world that has exiled itself from God.

He is the one Isaiah foretold – who brings good tidings of peace and salvation, who announces to the world that God has come to dwell and to reign (see Rev. 21:3–4).

So we sing a new song on Christmas. It is the song of those who have believed in the Christ child and been born again – by grace given the power to become children of God.

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Category:general -- posted at: 11:59am EDT

Isaiah 7:10–14
Psalm 24:1–6
Romans 1:1–7
Matthew 1:18–24

The mystery kept secret for long ages, promised through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, is today revealed (see Romans 16:25–26).

This is the “Gospel of God” that Paul celebrates in today’s Epistle—the good news that “God is with us” in Jesus Christ. The sign promised to the House of David in today’s First Reading is given in today’s Gospel. In the virgin found with child, God Himself has brought to Israel a savior from David’s royal line (see Acts 13:22–23).

Son of David according to the flesh, Jesus is the Son of God, born of the Spirit. He will be anointed with the Spirit (see Acts 10:38), and by the power of Spirit will be raised from the dead and established at God’s right hand in the heavens (see Acts 2:33–34; Ephesians 1:20–21).

He is the “King of Glory” we sing of in today’s Psalm. The earth in its fullness has been given to Him. And as God swore long ago to David, His Kingdom will have no end (see Psalm 89:4–5).

In Jesus Christ we have a new creation. Like the creation of the world, it is a work of the Spirit, a blessing from the Lord (see Genesis 1:2). In Him, we are saved from our sins, are called now “the beloved of God.”

All nations now are called to belong to Jesus Christ, to enter into the House of David and Kingdom of God, the Church. Together, through the obedience of faith, we have been made a new race—a royal people that seeks for the face of the God of Jacob.

He has made our hearts clean, made us worthy to enter His holy place, to stand in His presence and serve Him.

In the Eucharist, the everlasting covenant is renewed, the Advent promise of virgin with child—God with us—continues until the end of the age (see Matthew 28:20; Ezekiel 37:24–28).

Direct download: A_Advent_4_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Isaías 7,1–14
Salmo 24,1–6
Romanos 1,1–7
Mateo 1,18–24

El misterio que se mantuvo en secreto por generaciones, prometido por los profetas en las Sagradas Escrituras, se revela el día de hoy (cf. Rm 16,25–26).

Este es el “Evangelio de Dios” que Pablo celebra en la epístola de este día: la buena noticia de que “Dios está con nosotros” en Jesucristo. En el Evangelio de hoy se nos da la señal prometida a la Casa de David en la primera lectura. En la Virgen que ha concebido un hijo, Dios mismo ha traído a Israel un salvador de la estirpe real de David (cf. Hch 13,22–23).

Hijo de David según la carne, Jesús es el Hijo de Dios nacido del Espíritu. Será ungido con el Espíritu (cf. Hch 10,38) y por el poder del Espíritu será levantado de entre los muertos y se sentará a la derecha de Dios en los cielos (cf. Hch 2,33–35; Ef 1,20–21).

Él es el “Rey de la Gloria” de quien cantamos en el salmo de este día. La tierra entera le ha sido entregada. Y según lo que Dios juró hace mucho tiempo a David, su reino no tendrá fin (cf. Sal 89,4–5).

Tenemos una nueva creación en Jesucristo. Como la creación del universo, también es obra del Espíritu, una bendición del Señor (cf. Gn 1,2). En Él somos salvados de nuestros pecados y somos llamados “los amados de Dios”.

Ahora, todas las naciones están llamadas a pertenecer a Jesucristo, a entrar en la Casa de David y Reino de Dios: la Iglesia. Juntos, mediante la obediencia de la fe, hemos sido constituidos una nueva raza: un pueblo real que busca el rostro del Dios de Jacob.

Él ha limpiado nuestros corazones; nos ha hecho dignos para entrar en su lugar santo, para estar en su presencia y servirle.

En la Eucaristía se renueva la alianza eterna; continúa hasta el final de los tiempos la promesa de Adviento sobre una Virgen con niño—Dios con nosotros—(cf. Mt 28,29; Ez 37,24–28).

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

Isaiah 35:1–6, 10
Psalm 146:6–10
James 5:7–10
Matthew 11:2–11

John questions Jesus from prison in today’s Gospel—for his disciples’ sake and for ours.

He knows that Jesus is doing “the works of the Messiah,” foretold in today’s First Reading and Psalm. But John wants his disciples—and us—to know that the Judge is at the gate, that in Jesus our God has come to save us.

The Liturgy of Advent takes us out into the desert to see and hear the marvelous works and words of God—the lame leaping like a stag, the dead raised, the good news preached to the poor (see Isaiah 29:18–20; 61:1–2).

The Liturgy does this to give us courage, to strengthen our feeble hands and make firm our weak knees. Our hearts can easily become frightened and weighed down by the hardships we face. We can lose patience in our sufferings as we await the coming of the Lord.

As James advises in today’s Epistle, we should take as our example the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

Jesus also points us to a prophet—holding up John as a model. John knew that life was more than food, the body more than clothing. He sought the kingdom of God first, confident that God
would provide (see Matthew 6:25–34). John did not complain. He did not lose faith. Even in chains in his prison cell, he was still sending his disciples—and us—to our Savior.

We come to Him again now in the Eucharist. Already He has caused the desert to bloom, the burning sands to become springs of living water. He has opened our ears to hear the words of the sacred book, freed our tongue to fill the air with songs of thanksgiving (see Isaiah 30:18).

Once bowed down, captives to sin and death, we have been ransomed and returned to His Kingdom, crowned with everlasting joy. Raised up we now stand before His altar to meet the One who is to come: “Here is your God.”

Direct download: A_Advent_3_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Isaías 35,1–6,10
Salmo 146,6–10
Santiago 5,7–10
Mateo 11,2–11

Juan cuestiona a Jesús desde la prisión, por el bien de sus discípulos y el nuestro.

Él sabe que Jesús está haciendo “las obras del Mesías” predichas en la primera lectura y el salmo de hoy. Pero quiere que sus discípulos—y nosotros—sepamos que el Juez está a la puerta; que en Jesús, nuestro Dios ha venido a salvarnos.

La liturgia del Adviento nos lleva al desierto para ver y oír las palabras y obras maravillosas de Dios: el cojo que salta como un ciervo, los muertos resucitados, las buenas nuevas predicadas a los pobres (cf. Is 29,18–20; 61,1–2).

La liturgia pretende con ello darnos valor, fortalecer nuestras manos débiles y dar firmeza a nuestras rodillas vacilantes. Es fácil que nuestros corazones se vuelvan temerosos y se vengan abajo durante los apuros que enfrentamos. Podemos perder la paciencia en nuestros sufrimientos, mientras esperamos la venida del Señor.

Como advierte Santiago en la epístola de hoy, debemos tomar como ejemplo a los profetas, quienes hablaron en el nombre de Dios.

También Jesús nos señala un profeta, presentando a Juan como modelo. Éste sabía que la vida era más que el alimento y el cuerpo más que el vestido. Buscó primero el Reino de Dios, confiando en que Dios proveería (cf. Mt 6,25–34). Juan no se quejó, no perdió la fe. Aún encadenado en su celda, enviaba a sus discípulos—y a nosotros—al Salvador.

Nuevamente venimos a Jesús en la Eucaristía. Él ya ha hecho florecer el desierto y ha transformado las arenas ardientes en fuentes de agua viva. Ha abierto nuestros oídos para escuchar las palabras del libro sagrado, ha liberado nuestra lengua para llenar el aire con cantos de gratitud (Is 30,18).

Nosotros, que alguna vez estuvimos doblegados, cautivos del pecado y de la muerte, hemos sido rescatados y regresados a su Reino, coronados con una interminable alegría. Levantados, estamos ahora frente a su altar para encontrarnos con Aquel que ha de venir: “Aquí está tu Dios”.

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

Isaiah 11:1–10
Psalm 72:1–2, 7–8, 12–13, 17
Romans 15:4–9
Matthew 3:1–12

“The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” John proclaims. And the Liturgy today paints us a vivid portrait of our new king and the shape of the kingdom He has come to bring.

The Lord whom John prepares the way for in today’s Gospel is the righteous king prophesied in today’s First Reading and Psalm. He is the king’s son, the son of David—a shoot from the root of Jesse, David’s father (see Ruth 4:17).

He will be the Messiah, anointed with the Holy Spirit (see 2 Samuel 23:1; 1 Kings 1:39; Psalm 2:2), endowed with the seven gifts of the Spirit—wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.

He will rule with justice, saving the poor from the ruthless and wicked. His rule will be not only over Israel—but will extend from sea to sea, to the ends of the earth. He will be a light, a signal to all nations. And they will seek Him and pay Him homage.

In Him, all the tribes of the earth will find blessing. The covenant promise to Abraham (see Genesis 12:3), renewed in God’s oath to David (see Psalm 89:4,28), will be fulfilled in His dynasty. And His name will be blessed forever.

In Christ, God confirms His oath to Israel’s patriarchs, Paul tells us in today’s Epistle. But no longer are God’s promises reserved solely for the children of Abraham. The Gentiles, too, will glorify God for His mercy. Once strangers, in Christ they will be included in “the covenants of promise” (see Ephesians 2:12).

John delivers this same message in the Gospel. Once God’s chosen people were hewn from the rock of Abraham (see Isaiah 51:1–2). Now, God will raise up living stones (see 1 Peter 2:5)—children of Abraham born not of flesh and blood but of the Spirit.

This is the meaning of the fiery baptism He brings—making us royal heirs of the kingdom of heaven, the Church.

Direct download: A_Advent_2_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Isaías 11,1–10
Salmo 72,1–2.7–8.12–13.17
Romanos 15,4–9
Mateo 3,1–12

“Está cerca el reino de los cielos”, proclama Juan. Y la liturgia de hoy nos dibuja un vívido retrato de nuestro nuevo rey, así como del reino que Él nos ha venido a traer.

El Señor a quien Juan prepara el camino en el Evangelio de hoy, es el rey justo profetizado en la primera lectura y en el salmo de este día. Él es el hijo del rey, el hijo de David, un retoño del tronco de Jesé—el padre de David (cf. Rt 4,17).

Él será el Mesías ungido con el Espíritu Santo (cf. 2 S 23,1; 1 R 1,39; Sal 2,2), dotado con sus siete dones: sabiduría, entendimiento, consejo, fortaleza, ciencia, piedad y temor de Dios.

Gobernará con justicia, salvando a los pobres de los malvados y despiadados. Su reinado no se limitará a Israel, sino que se extenderá de mar a mar, hasta los confines de la tierra. Será una luz, una señal para todas las naciones. Y ellas lo buscarán y le rendirán homenaje.

Todas las tribus de la tierra encontrarán bendición en Él. La alianza prometida a Abraham (cf. Gn 12,3), renovada en el juramento de Dios a David (cf. Sal 89,4.28), se cumplirá en su dinastía. Y su nombre será bendito por siempre.

En Cristo, Dios confirma el juramento que hizo a los patriarcas de Israel, nos dice San Pablo en su epístola de hoy. Pero las promesas de Dios ya no están reservadas únicamente para los hijos de Abraham. También los gentiles glorificarán a Dios por su misericordia. Ellos, que alguna vez fueron extranjeros, en Cristo serán incluidos en “las alianzas de la promesa” (Ef 2,12).

Juan da ese mismo mensaje en el Evangelio. Antes el pueblo escogido de Dios fue extraído de la roca de Abraham (cf. Is 51,1–2). Ahora Dios levantará piedras vivas (cf. 1 P 2,5): hijos de Abraham nacidos no de la carne ni de la sangre, sino del Espíritu.

Este es el significado del ardiente bautismo que Él nos trae y nos hace herederos reales del reino de los cielos: la Iglesia.

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