Wednesday, May 24, 2017


THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD  - CYCLE A - 2017

« Forty days ago we celebrated the triumph of Jesus over death, his RESURRECTION.   

« During this time Jesus has made him visible in different ways to his apostles who will be the witnesses of his resurrection.   

« Today we celebrate in the liturgy the passage of Jesus from this way of life similar to ours,  to the Father.   

« He will not be visible anymore; he will be present in his church through the sacrament, the word and the witnesses.  

 FIRST READING  – Act  1:1-11

-        Jesus asks them to remain in Jerusalem until they receive the promise from the Father.   

-        Luke says in this book that the Lord has tried in different ways to convince them that he is alive.  

-        John baptized in water, you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit.  

-        Let us reflect on the meaning of the word “baptism.” To baptize means to submerge into water. Thus when Jesus says they will be baptized in the Holy Spirit, it means that they will be submerged in the Spirit of God that we call the Holy Spirit.

-        And this will happen also to those who will follow him through the centuries.    

-        Thus the Spirit does not come to us in a visible and external way, but we are submerged in the Spirit.  

-        They want to know if the kingdom of Israel will be restored, but Jesus says that this is known only by the Father.  

-        But they will receive the Holy Spirit who will come upon them and make them witnesses of Jesus throughout the entire world.   

-        It is important to enter into the symbolic meaning of the vocabulary used to describe this mystery of faith, the passage or returning of Jesus to the Father.  

o   Lifted up = we always look  at the blue sky when we speak about heaven, the abode of God. Thus to be lifted up means that Jesus goes to the Father.  

o   They continue to look intently, we feel so good when we experience the presence of God   

o   Why are you standing there looking at the sky? He will return  

o   But now “you have to be his witnesses”, now it is the time of the church, our time when we have to do the same works that Jesus did. In our baptism we have been called to do that.   

-        It is not a sad farewell, it is not a day of mourning, it is the day of Jesus’ triumph, that is why the church puts on our lips the responsorial psalm:  

o   We are invited to clap our hands, to shout with cries of joy, to sing the praises of our King, to sing hymns  

o   Because the Lord has established his throne upon the heights, he reigns over the nations and he sits as King on his sacred throne. 

-        It is neither a sad farewell, nor a day of mourning because Jesus has triumphed over evil and death. 

-        This triumph is already ours in hope, now for a little while we have to work with the Lord to invite all to the heavenly banquet for all eternity. 

RESPONSORIAL PSALM: Ps. 47

R. (6) God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
All you peoples, clap your hands,
shout to God with cries of gladness,
for the LORD, the Most High, the awesome,
is the great king over all the earth.
R. God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
 God mounts his throne amid shouts of joy;
the LORD, amid trumpet blasts.
Sing praise to God, sing praise;
sing praise to our king, sing praise.
R. God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
 For king of all the earth is God;
sing hymns of praise.
God reigns over the nations,
God sits upon his holy throne.
R. God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.  

SECOND READING   Ephesians  1:17-23

-        The author of this letter asks that the Father of Lord  Jesus     

o   May give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in  knowledge of  him  

o   May enlighten the eyes of our heart to know

§  What is the hope that belongs to his call   

§  What are the riches of his glory, the inheritance among the holy ones, destined to be distributed to the members of the Church.    

o   So we may experience his power in our life

§    Which is the same power that the Father has revealed in the resurrection of Jesus from among the dead and,  in giving to Jesus a glory which is above all that has been created.  

o   He has put all things beneath the feet of Jesus, this means that he has made of Jesus Lord and Head of the church which is his body.   

o   Alonso Schökel asks a question in his commentary, a question which we may keep and meditate in our hearts over and over again: Does Paul mean that the Church is more than an earthly reality, being already united to Christ in his triumph and in his glory, being already inhabited by the fullness of the divinity?  

o   We glimpse the true nature of the Church: the fullness of Christ, and imperfection of this body which is being shaped through the process of life. The perfect reality and the process through the unfinished journey of the community and of each one of its members.   

-        A good preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ triumph will be to reflect and try to answer this question:  

o   Do I really know Jesus? do I know him in such a way that this knowledge fills me with hope, joy, strength and trust without limits?

-        Let us have a heart to heart conversation with the Lord.  

GOSPEL  Matthew 28:16-40

Ø  Matthew writes at the end of his gospel the missionary commission of the apostles by Jesus. 

Ø  The eleven, the new born Church, has gone to Galilee 

Ø  In the morning of the resurrection Jesus had commissioned the women to go and tell his disciples to go to Galilee, there they would see him.  

Ø  Why Galilee and not Judea where they were?  

Ø  Galilee was the place of their first encounter with Jesus, we could call it “their first love” when they got excited about the young man who proclaimed a kingdom of love, peace and fraternity,  they were excited about him and about his project.   

Ø  Now after all that had happened with the crucifixion of Jesus, their cowardice, their leaving him alone, Jesus invites them to go back, we could say to go back home.  

Ø  They go to Galilee, when he comes in their midst, they adore him, although some still doubt   

o   In the Gospels and in the Acts we see how the community of the followers, after the resurrection, gives to Jesus the honor due to God, they adore him.   

o   It is interesting what Matthew says, “they doubted” why? They doubted because the joy was so overwhelming that they could not believe it to be true? They doubted because they did not believe it was he? 

o   We do not know, but certainly this sentence from Matthew is uplifting for us, the followers of the XXI century, we doubt also during the journey of our life, we doubt about our relationship with Him. 

Ø  The fact that they doubt is not an obstacle to be sent by Jesus. We are sent in spite of our doubts, our infidelities, our laziness, and our many temptations against our mission as missionaries.  

Ø  The one who sends us is Jesus and his will is not conditioned by our feelings or our actions.  

Ø  As a consequence of our baptism we have been sent 

o   Go and make disciples, that is to say, inspire others to follow me  

o   Not to a select group, but to all the nations, no one is excluded from this proclamation, from this happiness; we cannot put obstacles with our life to what Jesus wants: all the nations. 

o   Once they had become disciples, once they had gotten excited and are ready to follow me, baptize them in the name of the Trinity, in the name of God.   

o   That is submerging them into the waters of life, which is to be deeply submerged in the life of our God. 

o   Teach them all that I have taught you. What we have to teach is what Jesus has taught us and the Spirit with his light explains to us, as John says in his Gospel “the Spirit will remind you all that I have taught you.” 

o   If this responsibility frightens us, if we think that we cannot do it, let us continue to listen to Jesus who says to us 

o   I AM WITH YOU UNTIL THE END OF HISTORY, THE END OF TIME.  

Ø  No fears, no laziness, no excuses the Risen Jesus who sends us is also always with us. 

Ø  THANK YOU  Lord to be the Emmanuel, God with us, as the angel had said to Joseph who doubted when he knew that Mary was pregnant, do not fear he will be called Emmanuel.    

I transcribe below a text taken from a commentary I have read:  

We need, above all, an absolute faith in the protecting care of God. God continues to work in the heart and in the consciences of all his children, although we think they are “lost sheep”    

He continues working in and outside the Church. God does not abandon anyone, even if they have never heard the Gospel of Jesus. 

But this does not release us of our responsibility. How does God want to offer the good news of Jesus to the men and women of our time?  


 CLARETIAN CORNER

From the first day that the sea sickness of my companions got milder (as for me, it lasted for the whole travel and so terrible that they thought that I would die) I allotted all the time for spiritual exercises: prayer, reading, examination and devotion, etc. We recited the holy Rosary at the lower deck and the crew answered from the upper deck with great devotion and often with tears of tenderness, , especially at the singing of the “Holy God”, that I did with such a fervor as in a rapture..  Venerable María Antonia París, Foundress of Claretian Missionary Sisters,  Autobiography 141.     

That afternoon I went to my home town, Sallent, where everyone came out to meet me. In the evening I preached to them from a balcony overlooking the town square because the church wasn't large enough to hold the crowd. Next day we celebrated a Solemn High Mass, and in the afternoon I left for Sanmarti. The following morning I traveled to the shrine of Our Lady of Fussimanya, the scene of my great childhood devotion. I said Mass in the shrine and preached on devotion to Mary. From there I went on to Artés, where I also preached, as I did at Calders, as well. I ate at Moyá and preached there that night. The following morning I was off to Collsuspina, where I preached; then I went on to Vich where I had dinner and preached that night. Next I went to Barcelona, where I preached every day in various churches and convents[1] until December 28, when we sailed on the frigate La Nueva Teresa Cubana, under the command of Captain Manuel Bolivar.Su capitán, don Manuel Bolívar.  Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters. Autobiography 501. 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

CLARET, Antonio María. Autobiografía.  

PARIS, María Antonia. Autobiografía en Escritos, con Comentarios por   Juan Manuel Lozano.

PÉREZ HERRERO, Francisco. “Evangelio Según San Marcos” en Comentario al Nuevo Testamento. Casa de la Biblia 1995. 

RAVASI, Gianfranco. Según las Escrituras – Año B. San Pablo-Bogotá, Colombia 2005.

SCHÖKEL, Luis Alonso. LA BIBLIA DE NUESTRO PUEBLO (comentarios). Misioneros Claretianos. China 2010.   



Tuesday, May 16, 2017


VI SUNDAY OF EASTER – CYCLE A - 2017 

It is almost the end of the Easter season. Let us review the message given by the Gospels during these six Sundays of Easter before the Ascension of the Lord. 

·       On Easter Sunday we contemplated Peter and John going to the tomb and on seeing the burial cloths John believed.

·       On the second Sunday we saw the goodness and tender love of Jesus in his dialogue with Thomas, and with the other apostles, and we heard the Lord saying  that those who believe without seeing are blessed.  

·       On the third Sunday we read about the two disciples on their way to Emmaus and how Jesus joined them in their journey. 

·       On the fourth Sunday Jesus said that he is the good Shepherd and the door of the sheep.  

·       On the fifth and Sixth Sundays the Gospels are taken from the conversation of Jesus with his disciples in the Last  Supper: 

·       Fifth Sunday:

-        Heaven is like a house with many rooms, one for each one 

-        Jesus is the way, the truth and the life to get to this “house” 

-        Jesus is the image of God the Father, the sacrament of the Father as we read in the document Lumen Gentium of the Council  Vatican II.  

-        And Jesus tells us that he/she who believes in Him will do greater works than him, because He goes to the Father.  

·       Sixth Sunday:   

-        The promise of the Holy Spirit 

-        We are in Christ   

FIRST READING  – Acts  8:5-8; 14-17

Ø   Last Sunday we heard that, as the community of the church was growing,  they had to create more ministries, and thus the diaconate was established for the first time in the Church.  Deacons were to dedicate themselves to serve the needs of the Church.  This ministry has experienced changes and evolved through history.

Ø  Today Philip, one of the deacons that had been chosen by the community to serve the needs of the widows and other persons in need, goes to Samaria to bring there the Good News.  

Ø  They were suffering persecution for their faith in Jesus, and Paul was more and more against the new faith of the followers of Jesus

Ø  Following what the Lord had told them, they went from one place to another to protect themselves from the persecution, and on so doing they also proclaimed in the different places the good news of Jesus. 

Ø  The Samaritans who  listened to Philip proclaiming the Good News about Jesus, accepted the faith and were baptized.   

Ø  When the news reached the Apostles, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 

Ø  And impose hands upon them so they could  receive the Holy Spirit.  

Ø  This is a beautiful image of the young church, they take advantage of all situations to announce. The persecution is the occasion to announce  the good news to other brothers and sisters. 

Ø  This little church makes real the mandate of Jesus “go, proclaim, baptize, teach” what? All that I have taught you.

Ø  And what has he taught   by words and deeds? That God is love, and that we are called to love, since we are the image of our Creator who  knows only to love without conditions. To this we are called, and this is what we have to announce by words and deeds.

Ø  Is our enthusiasm for the Lord, like that of this young church? That we do not waste any occasion to live up to this mandate of the Lord, not so much by our words but by our life that cries out that the Lord is alive, and in encountering him in the community every Sunday, our life keeps changing?   

 RESPONSORIAL PSALM. Ps 66: 1-7.16.20.

R. (1) Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
 Shout joyfully to God, all the earth,
sing praise to the glory of his name;
proclaim his glorious praise.
Say to God, "How tremendous are your deeds!"
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
 "Let all on earth worship and sing praise to you,
sing praise to your name!"
Come and see the works of God,
his tremendous deeds among the children of Adam.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
 He has changed the sea into dry land;
through the river they passed on foot;
therefore let us rejoice in him.
He rules by his might forever.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
 Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare
what he has done for me.
Blessed be God who refused me not
my prayer or his kindness!
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

*     This psalm is an invitation to sing the wonderful Works of God 

*     What works?

Ø  Creation 

Ø  Exodus, liberation: he has changed the sea in dry land 

Ø  The Psalmist invites us to listen to what God has done for him  

Ø  What has God done in my life?  Let each one of us dedicate some time in silent prayer and  in solitude with the Lord and, let us think about the wonderful works that the Lord has done in our  life.  

SECOND READING  – 1Pt 3:15-18

ü  Peter invites us to have Christ as the Lord of our heart, the Lord of our life.     

ü  He also says that we have to be ready to give an account of our faith when we are asked. This means that we have to know what we believe, to have ownership of the faith we have received from our ancestors.  

ü  Peter tells us also that it is better to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.  

ü  Because Jesus who was innocent suffered for us sinners.  

ü  He was condemned to death, but God brought him to life by the Spirit

ü  How do I react to the unjust suffering in my life? When I suffer without having done the evil I am accused of.    

GOSPEL   Jn 14,15-21

*     Jesus says to his disciples “if you love me, you will keep my commandments” 

*     What are his commandments? In the Last Supper he said that he has only commandment “love one another…” but to learn how to make real this commandment in our life, we have to look at Jesus, his life, his ministry, the way he relates to other persons, because Jesus is the new Law that comes to complete the Old Covenant, the Law given on Mount Sinai.  

*     If we live according to his commandments Jesus will ask the Father for another advocate who will be with us always   

*     Why only with those who live according to his commandments who believe in Him? I have read something that may help us to answer this question:  

ü  The Spirit is the anointing that Jesus receives as Head of the body which is the Church 

ü  From Him, Head, the Spirit overflows as a sacred ointment over his whole body, the Church. 

ü  This Spirit that Jesus pours over his whole Church makes possible, the life, the faith and the ministries of the community of beleivers.  

ü  I think that this can be the explanation to what Jesus says that He will ask for the Spirit for those who keep his commandments.  

ü  That is to say to those who are united with Him the head of the body.  

*     In silent prayer, united to Jesus, let us ask the grace to understand this beautiful image of Christ head of the Church-faith community- body.  

*     The reading ends with these words of Jesus 

·       He who loves Jesus, will be loved by the Father  

·       Jesus too will love him/her and will reveal himself to him/her   in the intimacy of love.  



CLARETIAN CORNER

 O, My Lord and my God, in what way you are the most loving father and the most faithful friend! All left us in the hands of unknown people and not even one had the courage to accompany us, but you my most loving father, carried us on the palm of your hand! O, who could shout all around the world to say how faithful you are to your friends! Since you have been so to the one who has been so great an enemy of yours, and, God grant that she may not continue to be such after receiving so many delicacies of love!  (Venerable María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, 140)

On Tuesday, the eighth, I left Vich for Barcelona and Madrid, where the Papal Nuncio, Msgr. Brunelli, invested me with the pallium on the thirteenth. I was presented to Her Majesty and the Ministers of State. During the time it took to arrange all my credentials, I busied myself preaching and hearing confessions in Madrid.  When all was in order I returned to Catalonia. I arrived in Igualada on October 31 and preached there for All Saints' Day. The following day I visited Montserrat, where I also preached. Next I went to Manresa, where Father Mach was conducting an All Souls' Novena.  I preached there in the evening, and on the following morning gave Holy Communion to a large crowd who had heard that I would be there and so had prepared for it. (St. Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, 500)
 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

CLARET, Antonio María. Autobiografía.

PARIS, María Antonia. Autobiografía.

SCHÖKEL, Luis Alonso, La Biblia de nuestro Pueblo.

DAILY ROMAN MISSAL – Midwest Theological Forum

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER – CYCLE A - 2017 

As the Easter season moves towards the Ascension,  we read from the farewell discourse of Christ in  St. John’s Gospel chapters 14 to 17. 

FIRST READING – Acts 6:1-7

Ø  Jesus  said to his apostles that the Holy Spirit  would remind them all his words.  In this reading from the Acts,  these words of Jesus become real.  

Ø  This passage is like an image of what the Church has been doing during her journey through history, whenever she is confronted with new problems or issues she has to discern the new situation in order to be faithful  to the  Lord.  

Ø  Those who have the mission to guide the Church, the pastors, will have to look at the problems,   difficulties or   new situations which confront the Christian  community ,  discover  and try to understand the voice of the Spirit.

Ø  All the groups in the Church will have to do the same, under the guidance of their pastors.  

Ø  And also all the members of the Church will have to do the same if they want to be faithful to the words of Jesus.   

Ø  Chapter 6 of Acts presents a very concrete situation.  There are differences among them, they did not take care of all the poor in the same way.  

Ø  At the beginning the first community of the followers of Jesus was formed by persons converted from the Jewish faith. They took good care of their widows and orphans. That was not difficult, since they had been doing that long before in response to the law of Israel.   

Ø  But now there are also other widows who come from other countries, speak other languages.   

Ø  The community is too large now, and the apostles cannot take care of all the needs that the community has. They decide to look for help among the men of the community. A new ministry is born in the Christian community: the deacons whose main mission will be to take care of those in need. 

Ø  They choose 7 men deeply spiritual and prudent, faithful to the teachings of the Lord.  

Ø  The first community of the young Church that the book of Acts presents as a model has its problems too.  

Ø  There are two groups, those who want to continue with the old way of the Jewish traditions. We could call them conservatives.  

Ø  The second group was formed by persons converted from the pagan world. They were open to new ways in the interpretation of the teachings of Jesus.  

Ø  Faced with this situation the community of the believers, the Church,  has to listen to the voice of the Spirit of Jesus who will remind her the words of Jesus “love one another as I have loved you….” 

Ø  This will give birth to the local or ecumenical councils. The pastors assembled in council will look at the different problems that the Church experiences in different times, and they will look for answers listening in community to the Spirit of Jesus. 

Ø  Let us reflect on our community, our apostolic movements and see if we are faced   with  problems similar to those of the first community of Jerusalem.    

RESPONSORIAL PSALM. Ps 33: 1-2. 4-5. 18-19 
R. (22) Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
 Exult, you just, in the LORD;
praise from the upright is fitting.
Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;
with the ten-stringed lyre chant his praises.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
 Upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
 See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
*     The second stanza ends with these words: the earth is filled of the goodness of our Gpd and Lord.  What a wonderful sentence, very comforting for us who are so many times afraid and fearful of our Good Father God.   
SECOND READING – First letter of Peter

Since the second Sunday of Easter we are reading from this letter. What do we know about this letter?  

ü  If we read the first verse of the letter  

ü  We know that Peter is the author of the letter 

ü  That he writes for the elect, the baptized-consecrated, from a very large region of Asia.  

ü  And let us go now to the last chapter 5,12, Peter says to us that the letter has been written by Silvanus. This means that Sylvanus has been the secretary who has write down what Peter was dictating

ü  The addressees are people from different countries who live all over the region. It is a letter addressed to migrant persons, who work and live far from home and from country. People discriminated against by those who are in a better economic position. People considered like objects of production, not as persons. Men and women who work to produce and thus increase the wealth of the owners, who have forgotten that we are all equals.   

ü  This reality might as well explain the central theme of the letter, the sufferings of Christ that give meaning to our own sufferings. 

ü  The verb suffer and the word suffering is repeated over and over throughout  this entire  letter.       1Pt 2:4-9
« The message of this fragment of the letter of Peter is very rich. 

« Peter describes the Young Church, the community of the believers as a temple and each one of us is one of the  stones. This  is a beautiful image, the more beautiful the stone the more beautiful the temple. 

« This passage also reminds us the words of Jesus to the Samaritan woman. Jn 4,23-24.  

« In the book of Revelation there is another image of the Church as the Holy City which is at the same time the bride of the Lamb 21,10-27. 

« Peter describes Jesus as the cornerstone. The cornerstone holds the building together. 

« Jesus is this stone. This stone is of value for those who have faith 

« But it is a stumbling  blog for those who oppose it ( Is 28,16). 

« These words remind us the words of Simeon when Jesus was presented in the Temple by Joseph and Mary 

 Lk 2,34-35

« Peter tells us that we are a priestly nation consecrated to proclaim the wonderful works of God. 

« Let us discover in our life the marvels God has done in the past, is doing now and will continue to do  for us.    

GOSPEL  Jn 14:1-12

*     Jesus says to his apostles and to us “do not let your hearts be troubled.”  

*     He also invites them to believe in God and in Him.  

*     Heaven is presented as a home with many rooms which Jesus himself prepares for each one of us.  When we expect someone to visit us to stay for some days, we prepare the room and everything so that person feels at home.  Let this powerful image that John offers to our contemplation help us to dream, to imagine the beauty of heaven, our home; knowing that Jesus prepares an eternal room for us with the Most Holy Trinity.  

*     There are two other images in this text  

ü  Jesus is The way to go to this “home”     

He is also the truth and the life.  

 The way to discover the truth in order to have abundant life.

ü  Whoever sees Jesus  sees the Father   

Jesus is in the Father and the Father in him.

The words of Jesus are the words the Father says to him. 

The works Jesus does are the works the Fathers does in him. 
The passage began  with the words of Jesus “do not let your hearts be troubled,”  and ends with these powerful words which will help us “not to be troubled”:
I SOLEMNLY ASSURE YOU, THE MAN WHO HAS FAITH IN ME WILL DO THE WORKS I DO,

AND GREATER FAR THAN THESE, WHY? BECAUSE I GO TO THE FATHER.