Sunday, January 22, 2017


FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

JANUARY 29, 2017



In this fourth Sunday in ordinary time the Gospel offers to us the proclamation of the Law of the Kingdom, which brings to fulfillment the Law on Mount Sinai, replacing it by the Beatitudes. At the end of his earthly life Jesus will condense the whole Law in his New Commandment “love one another as I have loved you.” 



FIRST READING  – Prophet Zephaniah  2,3; 3,12-13

Ø  This prophet preached around 650 B.C. in the Kingdom of Judah in the South   

Ø  In that time there was in the country religious degradation and political intrigues.

Ø  Zephaniah announces to his people the coming of the Day of Judgment, the Day of the Lord.

o   The Day of the Lord is a day of purification not a day of doom.

o   Little by little through the preaching of the prophets and especially with the coming of Jesus into our world, this day becomes the great day of God, a day of joy and of encounter with him.    

o   The judgment of God takes away what is an obstacle for us to be what the Lord wants for us,  which is our well-being, our happiness and,  our salvation.

 

Ø  In the readings for next Sunday the prophet promises peace and justice for the remnant of the land.

o   The remnant means the ānāwîm = the needy of Israel who prefer to serve God instead of looking for financial privileges. 

o   Jesus in the Gospel will take again this concept and will call the ānāwîm  happy, blessed, not because they are better than the rest, but because God takes care of them in their needs and in their poverty.

o    The promise of peace “Shalom”, which means much more than the lack of conflict, this word speaks of fullness in all the areas of our life and of our human relationships, we might say that in some way it is the synonym of happiness.       

Ø  These poor   

o   Will take refuge in the name of the Lord, that is to say, they will trust in his name above anything or anybody else (the name in the Bible means the  person ) 

o   They will not do any harm to anyone, and they will not lie. The lie is here a synonym of evil, of what is contrary to the truth and therefore harms very much the person.

o   They will live in peace, nobody will take away their peace. 

o   We may conclude that they will enjoy peace, truth and protection because they have put themselves in the hands of the God of Israel who protects them.

o   God is always ready to welcome us with tenderness and love. The problem is not in God, it is in the human person who needs to open him or herself completely to God but very often we close ourselves, and in so doing we are deprived of the benefit of experiencing the tenderness of God in our life.



GOSPEL OF MATTHEW 5,1-12

«  In this fourth Sunday in ordinary time we begin to read   the Sermon on the Mountain which is found on chapters 5,6 and 7 of Matthew’s Gospel. 

«  We begin today reading the Beatitudes 

«  Jesus surprises us, as always.  He calls blessed those whom society considers unfortunate,  those who neither count nor are of interest to society because they do not yield any revenue and they make us uncomfortable. 

«  The text says that Jesus saw the crowd, went up to the mountain-side, he sat down and his disciples sat around him, and he began to teach them:

o   The Lord sees the crowd that was there, but the Lord sees also the crowd of all the times  who suffer, the poor, the afflicted those in need of so many things.  

o   He goes up to… to go up or climb requires an effort; to live the beatitudes will require an effort on our part. 

o   He seats down, as a teacher to teach his disciples who come to seat around him and are anxious to hear his words: 

§  Blessed, Happy!!! Who? And why?  

§  The Catechism of the Catholic Church says in n. 1716: “The Beatitudes are at the heart of Jesus' preaching. They take up the promises made to the chosen people since Abraham. the Beatitudes fulfill the promises by ordering them no longer merely to the possession of a territory, but to the Kingdom of heaven

§  Blessed, happy: the poor, the meek, those who mourn, those who weep, those who hunger and thirst for justice, the merciful, the pure of Herat the peacemakers, the persecuted, when you are insulted and persecuted. 

§  why? BECAUSE THEIR RECOMPENSE IS GREAT IN HEAVEN 

o   The Catechism in number 1717 “The Beatitudes” 

§  The Beatitudes depict the countenance of Jesus Christ and portray his charity

§  They express the vocation of the faithful associated with the glory of his Passion and Resurrection(baptism)

§   they shed light on the actions and attitudes proper  of the Christian life;

§  they are the paradoxical promises that comfort us in our suffering

§   they proclaim the blessings and rewards already secured, however dimly, for Christ's disciples;

§  they have begun in the lives of the Virgin Mary and all the saints.

 

§  The Catechism continues in 


§  1719 the beatitudes  

·         Reveal  the goal of human existence; the ultimate end of human acts 

·         God calls us to his own beatitude 

·         This vocation is addressed to each individual personally, but also to the Church as a whole,  

§  1720

·         In the New Testament the authors use different expressions to characterize the beatitudes: 
- the coming of the Kingdom of God;
- the vision of God: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God"  
- entering into the joy of the Lord;
- entering into God's rest:

·         There we shall rest and see, we shall see and love, we shall love and praise. Behold what will be at the end without end. For what other end do we have, if not to reach the kingdom which has no end?

I copy below the beatitudes applied to the church. This text has been taken from the book of Jose Antonio Pagola “El Camino Abierto por Jesús.” (my Spanish translation)

  • Happy the Church with the soul of a poor, because she will have less problems, and will be attentive to the needy, and she will live the Gospel with freedom. The Kingdom of God is hers. 
  • Happy the Church full of meekness. She will be a gift for this world full of violence. She will inherit the promise land.
  • Happy the Church who suffers because of her faithfulness to Jesus. One day she will be consoled by God.
  • Happy the Church who seeks with passion the Kingdom of God and its justice. In her the best of the human spirit will abide. One day her longing will be satisfied.
  • Happy the Church to whom God takes away her stony heart and gives her a heart of flesh. Mercy will be granted to her.
  • Happy the Church that introduces in the world peace instead of discord, reconciliation  instead of confrontation. She will be “daughter of God.”
  • Happy the Church that is persecuted because she follows Jesus. The kingdom of God is hers.

  SECOND READING   1 Corinthians  1,26-31     We continue the reading of this letter 

*      Paul says to the community of Corinth to look at themselves  

o   They have been called but few of them are influential in society 

o   Few are from a noble origin  

o   Because God chooses what the world considers ignorant to shame the “wise” 

o   He chooses those who are nothing to reduce to nothing those who are something. 

o   Thus the human beings cannot boast before God  

o   God is he who has given us life in Christ Jesus 

o   Whom he has made our wisdom. Our justice, our sanctification and our redemption. 

o   Whoever wants to glory let him or her glory in the Lord. 

*      Paul reminds us of a great truth, whatever is good in us has been put there by God, by ourselves we do not have anything. Why then are we so proud, so vain about ourselves? Our glory is in the Lord who continually creates us and recreates us through his Paschal Mystery. 



 CLARETIAN CORNER



We have said to the Bishops that God asks them to conform their lives and customs with those of the Holy Apostles.  Our Lord wants a living copy of his Apostles in his Bishops, for they govern the same Church which they established; it is necessary that they water it with the same water they used to fertilize it… Our Lord does not ask for anything new in his Church; he only asks all of us what we have promised him.  Our Divine Redeemer asks us to observe his Holy Law, and he asks this particularly of the Bishops in such a special way, and with so much eagerness that I do not know how to express… We have said that no one should excuse himself.  The Lord’s Holy Law is one and he orders it to be preached equally in the whole world without exceptions, neither of people, nor kingdoms, nor provinces.  Then his grace is ready to fulfill it in all parts and people.  (María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters. “Plan for the Renewal of the Church” 11-13.)  





The Bishops are the successors of the Apostles and, thus they have to be with their good example the light of the world…   They have to practice the good works, in such a way that their example be as a bright light that may shine before others and move them to glorify their heavenly Father…  The Bishops have to be friends of prayer, in imitation of Jesus…  in the same way the apostles practiced it; so much so that seeing that other responsibilities, even being good, hinder their mission, they left them, and chose seven deacons to perform them … In the fire that burns in meditation all scoria is taken away, men melt and are molded into the image of Jesus, they are filled with the Holy Spirit, and begin to speak  like those that were at the Cenacle; thus the Apostles begin with prayer, thus they continued and persevered faithfully until the end, sealing with the blood of their veins the truth that they had preached; the bishops have to do likewise, if they want to fulfill their sacred duties, be faithful and obtain the crown of glory.   The Bishops have to teach, following the mandate of Jesus to his Apostles… The Bishops have to be the salt of the earth through their doctrine… protecting with the salt of wisdom, instruction and preaching opportunely and inopportunely against the corruption of errors and vices, and even when it seems that the listeners do not  take advantage, do not desist  because of it,  since, at least, always a great good is done, not letting the vices and errors grow;  it is well known that the Word of God never returns fruitless since the just  take root in virtue and   some of the bad ones take advantage from it, and if it is not noticeable at once, it will be known latter. (Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters.   Plan for the Restauration of  the Beauty of the Church, “To the Bishops.”)


  

Thursday, January 12, 2017


SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - JANUARY 15, 2017

Ø  We begin today the ordinary time, which according to a liturgy professor is not so ordinary.    

Ø  During this year we will journey with Jesus in his mission of Messiah and Redeemer.  

Ø  The author of the Gospel of Matthew, Gospel which we will read during this year, writes to a Christian community of Jewish origin.  

Ø  He wants to help his brothers and sisters to discover  in Jesus the Messiah whom the prophets were presenting to us.    

Ø  However today the Gospel will be taken from the Gospel of John.  John the Baptist points out to Jesus as the Lamb of God.  

Ø  This three words "Lamb of God" has a deep meaning for a Jew, the lamb which was immolated and eaten on the night of the Passover of the Lord, the night of their liberation from the slavery in Egypt., 

Ø  Lamb which prefigured the true lamb who would take away the sin of the world and give the true freedom to every human being.   

 

FIRST READING  - Is  49:3,5-6

v  This reading is taken from one of the Servant Poems. . 

v  Servant who has been seen as the faithful servant of Yahweh, could be the people of Israel, one of the prophets, and following the theological reflection of the new people of God, the new Israel, the Church, is Jesus

v  The text has words coming from God, and words coming from the Servant. It is not a dialogue, but an inner reflection, a conversation from the heart.   

v  The Lord says to the Servant:

*      You are my servant through whom I show my glory.   

*      We may ask, what is the glory of God? Is it his power, his greatness or on the contrary it is his love, tenderness, we may say even his weakness, his ability to become vulnerable?  

*      The servant speaks and acknowledges that God has formed him in his mother's womb, has given him the mission to bring his people back to the love of his God.   

*      He continues saying that he has been glorified and God is his strength.   

*      How has he been glorified? In living and accomplishing the mission given to him in his mother's womb. 

*      God speaks again to the Servant and says that he will not only help the tribes to come back to God, but his mission will be wider, universal, he will be the light of the nations.   

*      so that the salvation that the Lord offers may reach  to the ends of the earth.



RESPONSORIAL PSALM - Ps  40 2-4,7-8,8-9,10

HERE AM I LORD, I COME TO DO YOUR WILL

I have waited, waited for the Lord

and he stooped toward me and heard my cry

and he put a new song into my mouth

a hymn to our God.



Sacrifice or offering you wished not  

but ears open to obedience you gave me  

Holocausts or sin offerings you sought not; 

then said I "Behold I come."

y confiarán en el Señor.



 In the written scroll it is prescribed for me  

to do your will, O my God, is my delight   

and your law is within  my heart.     



I announced your justice in the vast assembly

I did not restrain my lips, as you O Lord know.



·         This is a beautiful psalm in thought and in words.  

·         The psalmist says that he has waited trustfully for the Lord, who put in his mouth a new song.  

·         And on hearing him sing the song many will fear and trust in the Lord.   

·         Then he speaks to his God and says that God does not want sacrifices or holocausts.  

·         But the psalmist realizes that he has received ears to listen  

·         and discovers that the sacrifice, the holocaust pleasing to the Lord is to listen attentively and answering to what he listens. His response is "Here I am."

·         What I have to do is found in the book of the Law, the psalmist says that he loves this will of God written in the book, and says "your law is in my heart."  

·         He ends saying that he has not kept his lips in silence but that with joy he has proclaimed the joy and the justice of the Lord to the great assembly

·          Is the justice written in the book of the new Law, the Gospel, what our lips proclaim with joy to our brothers and sisters?   



GOSPEL  Jn 1:29-34 

§  Although we are in cycle A, and we should be reading the Gospel of Matthew, today the liturgy uses instead the Gospel of John.     

§  John points out to Jesus as the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world

§  He  continues saying that Jesus is that man he had spoken about to them, saying that he is above him, because he exists before him.  

§  But this man is the reason for him to had been sent to baptize.   

§  He had been told that the one upon whom the Spirit would come down, was the one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.    

§  I John have seen and testify that this man is the Son of God.

§  Is our life a testimony of our faith in Jesus son of God?  



SECOND READING  1Co 1:1-3

·         We begin today to read in the Sunday Mass the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians.

·         Paul is aware that he has received a call to be an apostle of Christ Jesus.   

·         Together with Sosthenes he writes to the church, the community of the faithful who live in Corinth.  

·         Community that has been sanctified in baptism and called to be holy.    

·         The letter is not only addressed to the Corinthians, but to all of us who in some place of the world invoke the name of the Lord Jesus.     

·         This letter is thus addressed to us the church of Miami, of Madrid, of Rome, of Milan, of Kimwenza, of Mysore, of Indonesia, of Japan.... all called to be holy as the Father in heaven who makes the sun shine on the good and the bad, who makes the rain fall on the just and on the sinner as well.   

·         All called to be servant in the way of the great Servant Jesus. 

CLARETIAN CORNER  





Here, once more our Lord put, as of what I can understand, before the eyes of my soul, because with my bodily eyes I did not see anything, His most Holy Law and Evangelical Counsel.

I was very attentive, overwhelmed to what was happening, and it seemed to me that I was reading the Holy Law of God, but without seeing any books nor letters; I  was seeing it written, and I was understanding it so very well, that it seemed to me it was imprinting in my soul but in a particular way the book of the Holy Gospels, which till then I had never read, neither  the Sacred Scripture (O.T). After, by God’s grace, I have read something and I have seen it written word by word, as our Lord taught it to me from the holy tree of the cross. It seems to me that the words I understood were coming out from his host holy mouth.

Beside what I saw in these sacred letters (without seeing anything with my bodily eyes as I have said above) an interior voice in the depths of my soul, was explaining me their meaning and the way to practice (…)  To my understanding I saw everything in Christ Crucified who, as he was teaching me the divine letters, was explaining me their meaning. Venerable María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 4-6.



The world has always striven to hinder and persecute me, but our Lord has taken care of me and frustrated all its evil designs. During the month of August, 1847, a number of bands of men called "The Early Risers" began to spring up all over Catalonia.The newspapers put it out that the leaders of these groups would do nothing without consulting Father Claret first. This was only a move of theirs to discredit my name and to invent some pretext for apprehending me and putting an end to my preaching. But God our Lord arranged matters so as to snatch me from their clutches. He sent me to preach in the Canary Islands, as I shall now relate. Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 477. 



BIBLIOGRAFÍA

CLARET, Antonio María Claret, Autobiografía.

PAGOLA, José A.   El camino abierto por Jesús. PPC 2012

PARIS, María Antonia, Autobiografía  


Tuesday, January 3, 2017


SOLEMNITY OF THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD

JANUARY 8, 2017

INTRODUCTION

·         In this  Sunday of 2017 we recall the Magi who went to Bethlehem to pay homage to the New Born King of the Jews. 

FIRST READING  – Is 60:1-6

«  This passage is taken from the book of the Third Isaiah. It is full of optimism, joy and light. 

«  The theme of light dominates the scene; the glory of God is the light that enlightens the city of Jerusalem.  

«  The earth is covered with darkness, but the glory of God shines upon the earth.  

«  This light is a lighthouse that leads the nations toward Jerusalem.  

«  Look with joy, with overwhelming happiness all the nations come to you, the foreigners but also your children, those who were once dispersed, now return.   

«  They will bring to you the wealth of the nations, caravans of camels bringing  gold, incense and myrrh, and proclaiming  the praises of God.    

RESPONSORIAL PSALM   Psalm 72    

R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king's son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R.
Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
R.
Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
The kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts;
the kings of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute.
All kings shall pay him homage,
all nations shall serve him.
R.
Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out,
and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
the lives of the poor he shall save.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

*      This psalm is a prayer for a king or for the crown heir. 

*      The theme of justice is present in the petitions for the king, so he will be able to govern with equity. 

*      Like in the first reading the psalm mentions the kings of foreign nations who will come to bring gifts to the king. 

*      The justice of this King will be to take care of the poor and marginalized, being like God whose justice is manifested through his compassion and mercy.   

SECOND READING  LETTER TO THE EPHESIANS

Ø  The letter to the Ephesians, together with the letters to the Colossians, to the Philippians, and to Philemon, belongs to the group of the Captivity Letters. 

Ø  For those authors who believe that the letter was written by Paul himself, the date of the letter has to be before his death, before 67.

Ø  But for those who think it was written by another person, probably a disciple of Paul, the date may be around the 80’s. 

Ø  This letter has many themes that we find also in the letter to the Colossians. 

Ø  It is a doctrinal and theological letter.  

Ø  The first part (ch.1-3) is dedicated to the Church, which has been prepared from eternity by God. There has been a progressive revelation whose culminating point is the Incarnation of the Word of God.  

Ø  In the second part what has been said in the first about the Church is applied to the behavior of the individual Christian.  

EPHESIANS 3:2-3a; 5-6

Ø  Paul says that the mystery hidden in God has been revealed to him, and he announces it to us through his preaching.   . 

Ø  This mystery has been revealed to the Apostles by the Spirit. 

Ø  The mystery hidden in God and revealed now is 

o   that through the Good News, the Gospel, the gentiles are coheirs, copartners   in Christ Jesus

o   and members of the same body.    

GOSPEL-  Matthew 2:1-12

ü  Chapters 1 and 2 of the Gospel of Matthew and of the Gospel of Luke are called the “The Infancy Narrative.” 

ü  They are, according to an author, the summary of Jesus’ life and of the evangelist’s theology. 

ü  The verses we will read on Sunday give us the synthesis of the theology of Matthew: there is a conflict between two kingships: Herod and Jesus, between evil and good.  

ü  Who was Herod? He came from Idumea (Edom. South of Judea and near the Dead Sea.) He was an ambitious and bloodthirsty man. 

ü  We find at least 5 different scenes or settings in this gospel. 

o   The Magi have followed the star and arrive to Jerusalem where they hope to find directions to find the New Born King of the Jews. 

o   Herod, the High priests and the scribes know about the prophecy and look in the Scriptures to find the exact place, which is Bethlehem. 

o   Herod speaks to the Magi and he inquires from them about the exact time they had seen the star. He tells them that, according to the Scriptures, he has to be born in Bethlehem. He wants them to come back and tell the exact place so he can go and adore him too. 

o   The Magi continue their journey and see again the star which they had lost when they arrived in Jerusalem. 

o   The Magi arrive to the place where the holy family lives, and find Jesus with his Mother. Full of joy they offer him gold, frankincense and myrrh. Afterwards they take another road to go back home as the angel had told them.  

ü  There are many contrasts in these scenes,   

o   The Magi do not know the prophecies of Israel, but they know how to read the stars and seek with an open heart without ambition or power. 

o   Herod and the priests know the prophecies thus they fear, because they believe that this new born King is going to take away their power, to change their life style filled with hate and lies.    

o   The Magi found God without knowing him. The leaders of the Jewish people do not find or recognize him, in spite of having the information.   

POST-SYNODAL APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION AMORIS LAETITIA 
Love forgives
105. Once we allow ill will to take root in our hearts, it leads to deep resentment.  The phrase
ou logízetai to kakón means that love “takes no account of evil”; “it is not resentful”.  The opposite of resentment is forgiveness, which is rooted in a positive attitude that seeks to understand  other people’s weaknesses and to excuse them.  As Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34).  Yet we keep looking for more and more faults,  imagining greater evils, presuming all kinds of bad intentions, and so resentment grows and deepens.  Thus, every mistake or lapse on the part of a spouse can harm the bond of love and the stability of the family.  Something is wrong when we see every problem as equally serious; in this way, we risk being unduly harsh with the failings of others.  The just desire to see our rights respected turns into a thirst for vengeance rather than a reasoned defense of our dignity.

106. When we have been offended or let down, forgiveness is possible and desirable, but no one can say that it is easy.  The truth is that “family communion can only be preserved and perfected through a great spirit of sacrifice.  It requires, in fact, a ready and generous openness of each and all to understanding, to forbearance, to pardon, to reconciliation.  There is no family that does not know how selfishness, discord, tension and conflict violently attack and at times mortally wound its own communion: hence there arise the many and varied forms of division in family life”.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
POPE FRANCIS, POST-SYNODAL APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION AMORIS LAETITIA

SCHÖKEL, Luis Alonso, La Biblia de nuestro Pueblo.

SAGRADA BIBLIA, Versión Oficial de la Conferencia Episcopal Española.

THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE, Donald Senior and John J. Collins, Editors. Second edition