Letters From Home

Isaiah 50:4–7
Psalm 22:8–9, 17–20, 23–24
Philippians 2:6–11
Matthew 26:14–27:66

“All this has come to pass that the writings of the prophets may be fulfilled,” Jesus says in today’s Gospel (see Matthew 26:56).

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 Matthew 27:31), as His hands and feet are pierced, as enemies gamble for His clothes (see Matthew 27:35), and as His enemies dare Him to prove His divinity by saving Himself from suffering (see Matthew 27:39–44).

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. We know, as the centurion today, that truly this is the Son of God (see Matthew 27:54).

Direct download: A_Passion_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Ezekiel 37:12–14
Psalm 130:1–8
Romans 8:8–11
John 11:1–45

As we draw near to the end of Lent, today’s Gospel clearly has Jesus’ passion and death in view.

That’s why John gives us the detail about Lazarus’ sister, Mary—that she is the one who anointed the Lord for burial (see John 12:3, 7). His disciples warn against returning to Judea; Thomas even predicts they will “die with Him” if they go back.

When Lazarus is raised, John notices the tombstone being taken away, as well as Lazarus’ burial cloths and head covering—all details he later notices with Jesus’ empty tomb (see John 20:1, 6, 7).

Like the blind man in last week’s readings, Lazarus represents all humanity. He stands for “dead man”—for all those Jesus loves and wants to liberate from the bands of sin and death.

John even recalls the blind man in his account today (see John 11:37). Like the man’s birth in blindness, Lazarus’ death is used by Jesus to reveal “the glory of God” (see John 9:3). And again like last week, Jesus’ words and deeds give sight to those who believe (see John 11:40).

If we believe, we will see—that Jesus loves each of us as He loved Lazarus, that He calls us out of death and into new life.

By His Resurrection Jesus has fulfilled Ezekiel’s promise in today’s First Reading. He has opened the graves that we may rise, put His Spirit in us that we may live. This is the Spirit that Paul writes of in today’s Epistle. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will give life to we who were once dead in sin.

Faith is the key. If we believe as Martha does in today’s Gospel—that Jesus is the resurrection and the life—even if we die, we will live.

“I have promised and I will do it,” the Father assures us in the First Reading. We must trust in His word, as we sing in today’s Psalm—that with Him is forgiveness and salvation.

Direct download: A_5_Lent_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13
Psalm 23:1-6
Ephesians 5:8-14
John 9:1-41

God’s ways of seeing are not our ways, we hear in today’s First Reading. Jesus illustrates this in the Gospel—as the blind man comes to see and the Pharisees are made blind.

The blind man stands for all humanity. “Born totally in sin” he is made a new creation by the saving power of Christ.

As God fashioned the first man from the clay of the earth (see Genesis 2:7), Jesus gives the blind man new life by anointing his eyes with clay (see John 9:11). As God breathed the spirit of life into the first man, the blind man is not healed until he washes in the waters of Siloam, a name that means “sent.”

Jesus is the One “sent” by the Father to do the Father’s will (see John 9:4; 12:44). He is the new source of life-giving water—the Holy Spirit who rushes upon us in Baptism (see John 4:10; 7:38–39).

This is the Spirit that rushes upon God’s chosen king David in today’s First Reading. A shepherd like Moses before him (see Exodus 3:1; Psalm 78:70–71), David is also a sign pointing to the good shepherd and king to come—Jesus (see John 10:11).

The Lord is our shepherd, as we sing in today’s Psalm. By His death and Resurrection He has made a path for us through the dark valley of sin and death, leading us to the verdant pastures of the kingdom of life, the Church.

In the restful waters of Baptism He has refreshed our souls. He has anointed our heads with the oil of Confirmation and spread the Eucharistic table before us, filling our cups to overflowing.

With the once-blind man we enter His house to give God the praise, to renew our vow: “I do believe, Lord.”

“The Lord looks into the heart,” we hear today. Let Him find us, as Paul advises in today’s Epistle, living as “children of light”—trying always to learn what is pleasing to our Father.

Direct download: A_4_Lent_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Exodus 17:3–7
Psalm 95:1–2, 6–9
Romans 5:1–2, 5–8
John 4:5–15, 19–26, 39–42

The Israelites’ hearts were hardened by their hardships in the desert.

Though they have seen His mighty deeds, in their thirst they grumble and put God to the test in today’s First Reading—a crisis point recalled also in today’s Psalm.

Jesus is thirsty, too, in today’s Gospel. He thirsts for souls (see John 19:28). He longs to give the Samaritan woman the living waters that well up to eternal life.

These waters couldn’t be drawn from the well of Jacob, father of the Israelites and the Samaritans, but Jesus was something greater than Jacob (see Luke 11:31–32).

The Samaritans were Israelites who escaped exile when Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom eight centuries before Christ (see 2 Kings 17:6, 24–41). They were despised for intermarrying with non-Israelites and worshipping at Mount Gerazim, not Jerusalem.

But Jesus tells the woman that the “hour” of true worship is coming, when all will worship God in Spirit and truth.

Jesus’ “hour” is the “appointed time” that Paul speaks of in today’s Epistle. It is the hour when the Rock of our salvation was struck on the Cross. Struck by the soldier’s lance, living waters flowed out from our Rock (see John 19:34–37).

These waters are the Holy Spirit (see John 7:38–39), the gift of God (see Hebrews 6:4).

By the living waters the ancient enmities of Samaritans and Jews have been washed away, the dividing wall between Israel and the nations is broken down (see Ephesians 2:12–14, 18). Since His hour, all may drink of the Spirit in Baptism (see 1 Corinthians 12:13).

In this Eucharist, the Lord now is in our midst—as He was at the Rock of Horeb and at the well of Jacob.

In the “today” of our Liturgy, He calls us to believe: “I am He,” come to pour out the love of God into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. How can we continue to worship as if we don’t understand? How can our hearts remain hardened?

Direct download: A_3_Lent_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Éxodo 17,3–7
Salmo 95,1–2.6–9
Romanos 5,1–2.5–8
Juan 4,5–15.19–26.39–42

Los corazones de los israelitas fueron endurecidos por las pruebas en el desierto.

Aunque habían visto las proezas de Dios, cuando estaban sedientos murmuraron contra Él y lo pusieron a prueba, según nos dice la primera lectura de hoy. El salmo recuerda también ese momento de crisis.

También Jesús tiene sed en el Evangelio de hoy. Está sediento de almas (cf. Jn 19,28). Anhela dar a la samaritana las aguas vivas que brotan hasta la vida eterna.

Esas aguas no podían sacarse del pozo de Jacob, padre de los israelitas y también de los samaritanos. Pero Jesús es mayor que Jacob (cf. Lc 11,31–32).

Los samaritanos eran israelitas que escaparon del exilio cuando Asiría conquistó el Reino del Norte, ocho siglos antes de Cristo (cf. 2R 17,6; 24–41). Fueron despreciados por casarse con no-israelitas y por rendir culto en el monte Garizim, no en Jerusalén.

Pero Jesús le dice a la mujer que ha llegado “la hora” del auténtico culto, cuando todos adorarán a Dios en Espíritu y en verdad.

La “hora” de Jesús es el “tiempo señalado” del que San Pablo habla en la Epístola de hoy. Es la hora en la que la Roca de nuestra salvación fue golpeada en la Cruz. Herida por la lanza del soldado, de nuestra Roca brotaron aguas vivas (cf. Jn 19,34–37).

Esa agua es el Espíritu Santo (cf. Jn 7,38–39), don de Dios (cf. Hb 6,4).

Por las aguas vivas, se ha lavado la antigua enemistad entre samaritanos y judíos; se ha derrumbado la muralla entre Israel y las naciones (cf. Ef 2,12–14.18). Desde la llegada de la hora del Señor, todos pueden beber del Espíritu en el bautismo (cf. 1 Co 12,13).

En esta Eucaristía el Señor está en medio de nosotros, como lo estaba en la roca del Horeb y en el pozo de Jacob.

En el “hoy” de nuestra liturgia, nos llama a creer que Él es Aquel que ha venido a derramar el amor de Dios en nuestros corazones por medio del Espíritu Santo. ¿Cómo podemos seguir rindiendo culto como si no entendiéramos esto?¿Cómo podemos seguir con nuestros corazones endurecidos?

Direct download: A_3_Lent_Spn_17.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Genesis 12:1-4
Psalm 33:4-5,18-20, 22
2 Timothy 1:8-10
Matthew 17:1-9

Today’s Gospel portrays Jesus as a new and greater Moses.

Moses also took three companions up a mountain and on the seventh day was overshadowed by the shining cloud of God’s presence. He too spoke with God and his face and clothing were made radiant in the encounter (see Exodus 24, 34).

But in today’s Lenten Liturgy, the Church wants us to look back past Moses. Indeed, we are asked to contemplate what today’s Epistle calls God’s “design . . . from before time began.”

With His promises to Abram in today’s First Reading, God formed the people through whom He would reveal himself and bestow His blessings on all humanity.

He later elevated these promises to eternal covenants and changed Abram’s name to Abraham, promising that he would be father of a host of nations (see Genesis 17:5). In remembrance of His covenant with Abraham He raised up Moses (see Exodus 2:24; 3:8), and later swore an everlasting kingdom to David’s sons (see Jeremiah 33:26).

In Jesus’ transfiguration today, He is revealed as the One through whom God fulfills His divine plan from of old.

Not only a new Moses, Jesus is also the “beloved son” promised to Abraham and again to David (see Genesis 22:15–18; Psalm 2:7; Matthew 1:1).

Moses foretold a prophet like him to whom Israel would listen (see Deuteronomy 18:15, 18) and Isaiah foretold an anointed servant in whom God would be well-pleased (see Isaiah 42:1). Jesus is this prophet and this servant, as the Voice on the mountain tells us today.

By faith we have been made children of the covenant with Abraham (see Galatians 3:7–9; Acts 3:25). He calls us, too, to a holy life, to follow His Son to the heavenly homeland He has promised. We know, as we sing in today’s Psalm, that we who hope in Him will be delivered from death.

So like our father in faith, we go forth as the Lord directs us: “Listen to Him!”

Direct download: A_2_Lent_17.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Génesis 12,1–4
Salmo 33,4–5.18–20.22
2 Timoteo 1,8–10
Mateo 17,1–9

El Evangelio de hoy retrata a Jesús como un nuevo y más grande Moisés.

También Moisés tomó tres acompañantes, subió con ellos al monte y al día setenta fue eclipsado por la nube brillante de la presencia de Dios. También él habló con Dios y su cara y ropas se hicieron radiantes en ese encuentro (cf. Ex 24,34).

Pero en la liturgia cuaresmal de hoy, la Iglesia quiere que miremos hacia atrás, más allá de Moisés. Más aún, nos invita a contemplar lo que la epístola de hoy llama: “el designio … desde antes de todos los siglos”.

Dios, con las promesas que hace a Abrán en la primera lectura de hoy, formó el pueblo por medio del cual Él se revelaría a sí mismo y concedería sus bendiciones a toda la humanidad.

Más tarde, Dios elevó sus promesas a alianzas eternas y cambió el nombre de Abrán por Abrahán, prometiéndole que sería padre de una multitud de naciones (cf. Gn 17,5). En recuerdo de su alianza con Abrahán, hizo surgir a Moisés (cf. Ex 2,24; 3,8), y más adelante juró un reino eterno a los hijos de David (cf. Jr 33,26).

En la transfiguración de Jesús que leemos hoy, Él se revela como Aquel en quien Dios cumple su plan divino, trazado desde antiguo.

Jesús no es sólo un nuevo Moisés, sino el “hijo amado” prometido a Abrahán y prometido nuevamente a David (cf. Gn 22,15–18; Sal 2,7; Mt 1,1).

Moisés predijo que vendría un profeta como él a quien Israel escucharía (cf. Dt 18,15–18); e Isaías, un siervo ungido en quien Dios estaría complacido (cf. Is 42,1). Jesús es ese profeta y siervo, como la Voz en el monte nos dice el día de hoy.

Por la fe hemos sido hechos hijos de la alianza hecha con Abrahán (cf. Ga 3,7–9; Hch 2,25). También a nosotros Él nos llama a la santidad, a seguir a su Hijo hacia la patria celestial que nos ha prometido. Sabemos, como cantamos en el salmo de hoy, que quienes esperamos en Él seremos librados de la muerte.

Por tanto, como nuestro padre en la fe, debemos seguir adelante mientras el Señor nos dice: “¡Escúchenlo!”.

Direct download: A_2_Lent_Spn_17.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT