Jul 12, 2015

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

“Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.”

How are we to understand this saying? If someone will not receive the truth are we therefore free to leave them in their sins? Can we just forget about them? Israel is holy ground. It is the land which God gave to the Israelites in covenant. For this reason, Jews would shake off the dust of foreign lands before entering into the Holy Land. Jesus sends the disciples as prophets preaching repentance and doing works as a testimony: curing the sick and casting out demons. The instruction he gives to shake off the dust is a prophetic gesture.  It is a witness that they are missing the point of the Holy Land. They are strangers even while residing in the land of their fathers. But it does not mean that Jesus does not care about these places or the people in them.

He is preparing his disciples for the rejection that will surely come. “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his master, and the servant become like his lord.” (Mt. 10:24-25) So how does Jesus conduct himself in his ministry of preaching and healing? The Gospels often record that Jesus went back and forth across the Sea of Galilee. He returned often to the places he had been before. “He was teaching daily in the Temple.” (Luke 19:47) Once when preparing to go to Jerusalem, a Samaritan city refused to receive him. James and John asked our Lord if they should call down fire from heaven to consume the town. Our Lord rebuked them saying, “You know not what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.” (Luke 9:55-56)

While preaching at Antioch, St. Paul and St. Barnabas were rejected and “they shook off the dust of their feet against them and went on to Iconium.” (Acts 13:51). Antioch went on, by the way, to be converted and become a prominent center of Christianity. Another time after rejection and blasphemy in Macedonia, St. Paul shakes out his garments at them. (Acts 18:6). But this is the same St. Paul who writes to the Corinthians “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.” (1 Cor 9:23) And he writes to his beloved Timothy that God our Savior “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim 2:4)

And this is what we consistently see throughout salvation history. God returns again and again to save his people. He saves his people, by the way, to be a light to the nations so that all may come to know and love him. He sent Amos the prophet from Judah into the Northern Kingdom which had rejected him. And he sent countless other prophets over the centuries – even to pagans, like Jonah to Nineveh.

Jesus, on the last night he spent with his disciples, also taught something more concerning dust and feet. “When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:12-17) “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

Yes, it is necessary to preach repentance of sins. Yes, it is necessary to proclaim the truths of salvation. But we must also live in the truth of the faith as a prophetic sign for “we exist for the praise of his glory.” Love one another. Love your enemy. Pray for those who persecute you. Become a light set upon a hill for the world to see. As author Madeleine L’Engle once wrote: “We do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.”

When they will not receive you or listen to you, do not linger in argument. Do not give into angry condemnations. Do not try to force what can only be freely received as the free gift that it is, just as you yourself have received it. So shake the dust from your feet as a testimony against them. But never shake the love of them from your heart as a testimony to them.

* * *

"Si en algún lugar no los reciben ni los escuchan, no se alejen de allí sin haber sacudido el polvo de sus pies: con esto darán testimonio contra ellos."

Cómo hemos de entender estas palabras? Si alguien no va a recibir la verdad,  somos entonces libres de dejarlos con sus pecados? ¿Podemos simplemente olvidarnos de ellos? Israel es tierra santa. Es la tierra que Dios dio a los israelitas en La Alianza. Por esta razón los judíos se sacudían el polvo de tierras extranjeras antes de entrar en la Tierra Santa. Jesús envía a los discípulos como profetas predicando el arrepentimiento y haciendo obras como testimonio: curando a los enfermos y expulsando demonios. La instrucción que da de sacudir el polvo es un gesto profético. Es un testimonio de que se están perdiendo el punto de la Tierra Santa. Son extraños, incluso mientras residían en la tierra de sus padres. Pero eso no quiere decir que Jesús no se preocupa por estos lugares o los habitantes de esas tierras.

 Él los está preparando para el rechazo que seguramente vendrá. "El discípulo no está por encima de su maestro, ni el sirviente por encima de su patrón. "(Mateo 10: 24-25). Entonces, ¿cómo lleva a cabo Jesús su ministerio de la predicación y la sanación? Los Evangelios registran a menudo que Jesús iba y venía por el Mar de Galilea. Regresó a menudo a los lugares donde había estado antes. "Jesús enseñaba todos los días en el templo." (Lucas 19:47) Una vez cuando se preparaba para ir a Jerusalén, una ciudad samaritana se negó a recibirlo. Santiago y Juan le preguntaron a nuestro Señor si debía hacer bajar fuego del cielo para consumir la ciudad. Nuestro Señor los reprendió diciendo: "No saben de qué espíritu son ustedes; el Hijo del hombre no ha venido para perder las almas de los hombres, sino para salvarlas "(Lucas 9: 55-56).



Mientras predicaban en Antioquía, San Pablo y San Bernabé fueron rechazados y "se sacudieron el polvo de sus pies contra ellos y se fueron a Iconio." (Hechos 13:51). Antioquía pasó, por cierto, a ser convertida y convertirse en un centro importante del cristianismo. En otra ocasión, después del rechazo y la blasfemia en Macedonia, San Pablo se sacudió el polvo de sus vestiduras. (Hechos 18: 6). Pero este es el mismo San Pablo que escribe a los Corintios "Me he hecho todo para todos con el fin de salvar, por todos los medios a algunos.  Y todo lo hago por el Evangelio, porque quiero tener también mi parte de el. "(1 Corintios 9:23) y escribe al amado Timoteo que Dios nuestro Salvador "quiere que todos los hombres se salven y vengan al conocimiento de la verdad. "(1 Timoteo 2: 4)

Y esto es lo que vemos constantemente en toda la historia de la salvación. Dios vuelve una y otra vez para salvar a su pueblo. Él salva a su pueblo, por cierto, para que sean una luz para las naciones, para que todos puedan venir a conocerlo y amarlo. Él envió a Amós el profeta de Judá a los Reinos del Norte que lo habían rechazado. Y envió un sinnúmero de otros profetas durante siglos - incluso a los paganos, como Jonás a Nínive.

Jesús, en la última noche que pasó con sus discípulos, también enseñó algo más en relación con el polvo y los pies. "Cuando acabó de lavarles los pies, tomó su manto, volvió a la mesa, y les dijo:" ¿Comprenden lo que he hecho con ustedes? Ustedes me llaman Señor y Maestro; y ustedes tienen razón porque lo soy. Pues si yo, el Señor y el Maestro, les he lavado los pies a ustedes, también ustedes deben lavarse los pies unos a otros. Yo les he dado el ejemplo, y ustedes deben hacer como he hecho yo.   En verdad les digo: El servidor no es más que su patrón y el enviado no es más que el que lo envía.  Pues bien, ustedes ya saben estas cosas: felices si las ponen en práctica.  "(Juan 13: 12-17)." Les doy un mandamiento nuevo: que se amen los unos a los otros.  Ustedes deben amarse unos a otros como yo los he amado.  En esto reconocerán todos que son mis discípulos: en que se aman unos a otros. "(Juan 13: 34-35).

 Sí, es necesario predicar el arrepentimiento de los pecados. Sí, es necesario proclamar las verdades de la salvación. Pero tambien tenemos que vivir en la verdad de la fe como un signo profético de "existimos para la alabanza de su gloria." Ámense unos a otros. Ama a tu enemigo. Oren por los que los persiguen. Conviértanse en una luz sobre un cerro para que el mundo la vea. Como escribió Madeleine L'Engle una vez: "No acercamos a la gente a Cristo desacreditando fuertemento lo que ellos creen, o diciéndoles lo equivocados que están, y cuánta razón tenemos nosotros, sino mostrándoles una luz que es tan encantadora que ellos desean con todo su corazón conocer la fuente de la misma. "

 Cuando ellos no los reciban o los escuchen  a ustedes no insistan en el debate. No cedan a la condena ni a la ira. No traten de forzar lo que sólo puede ser recibido libremente como el don gratuito que es, así como ustedes lo han recibido. Sacudan el polvo de sus pies como testimonio contra ellos. Sin embargo, nunca sacudan el amor de ellos de su corazón, como testimonio para ellos.


Jul 6, 2015

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

God sent the Israelites a prophet. In fact, he sent many prophets. Sometimes they listened, sometimes they did not listen. The story of salvation history is not a story of a people earnestly seeking out God and struggling mightily against the culture of their times. It is a story of a people that kept acquiescing to the culture around them and forgetting their God. They rebelled against Moses. They insisted upon being like other nations. “We want a king,” they said. God, it seems, was not kingly enough for them. Nevertheless, God was earnestly seeking out his people. Even though they often rejected him, often refused to receive his prophets, God would not let his love for his people fade. In testimony of his unending love, finally, God sent his Son.

What was it like to see and hear Jesus? Very often we are told in the Gospels of his wisdom, the authority of his teaching and the mighty deeds he performed. The people of his city were awestruck by him. “Where did he get his learning? From where come his wisdom and his power to do miracles?” And yet they are not satisfied with the witness of their eyes and ears but must push on to their own judgments. “We know him. We know his mother and father. We know his relatives.” They pass judgment on the basis of their own knowing. They stood in the presence of eternal truth and they could not understand him. They could not accept him. They would not receive him. Everyone who encounters Jesus is forced to make a choice. Is he the Lord? Or is he not?

The Catholic Church should expect to be received no better than her Lord was and is. The Church is not greater that her Lord. She will be treated in the same manner. The world judges the Church by its own standards. It cannot understand her. It will not accept her. It refuses to receive her, unless she makes herself like the world. The world is only able to love itself. And any person that desires to be loved by the world, must become like the world. Worse than the judgment of the world is the judgment of her own children. For even her own children refuse to receive her teachings.
My brothers and sisters, we are not like the prophets who were rejected, insulted and murdered. We are like the Israelites who thus treated the prophets. The world does not need to persecute us. We are unfaithful to our own Church and to her teachings. We are silent when we should speak. We talk when we should listen. We are anything but saints. We are not like St. Paul.

It is too easy to paint the picture of ourselves as poor persecuted Christians. First we must first become Christians. If we wish others to receive Christ, first we have to receive him. If we wish others to know the truths of the Christian life, first we have to live them. If we wish others to love God, first we have to love him. This is Paul’s secret: he loves God and therefore he is able to say: “I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” He encountered Jesus and confessed that Jesus Christ is Lord.

And you, who do you say that Jesus is?

* * *

Dios envió a los hijos de Israel un profeta. De hecho, envió muchos profetas. A veces se escucharon y a veces ellos no escucharon. La historia de la salvación no es una historia de un pueblo seriamente en busca de Dios y luchando fuertemente contra la cultura de su tiempo. Es una historia de un pueblo que mantienen la cultura que les rodea y olvidando su Dios. Se rebelaron contra Moisés. Ellos insistieron en ser como las otras naciones. "Queremos un rey", dijeron. Dios, al parecer, no era lo suficientemente real para ellos. La historia también nos da el ejemplo de las almas fieles que se aferraban a Dios en medio de la rebelión generalizada, la maldad y el pecado. Dios estaba seriamente buscando su pueblo. A pesar de que su gente a menudo lo rechazaron, a menudo se negó a recibir a sus profetas, Dios no dejaría que su amor por su pueblo se desvaneciera. En testimonio de su amor infinito, finalmente que Dios les envió a su Hijo.

¿Qué se siente al ver y escuchar a Jesús? Muy a menudo se nos dice en el Evangelio de su sabiduría, la autoridad de su enseñanza y los milagros que realizó. La gente de su ciudad estaban impresionados por él. “¿Dónde aprendió este hombre tantas cosas? ¿De dónde le viene esa sabiduría y ese poder para hacer milagros?” Y sin embargo, no están satisfechos con el testimonio de sus ojos y los oídos, sino que debe hacer sus propios juicios. Lo conocemos. Conocemos su madre y su padre. Conocemos sus parientes. Ellos juzgaron por sí mismos. Ellos están en la presencia de la verdad eterna y no pudieron entenderlo. Ellos no pudieron aceptarlo. Ellos no lo recibieron. Cada uno, que encuentra a Jesús, está obligado a tomar una decisión. ¿Es él el Señor? ¿O no?

La Iglesia no es mayor que su Señor. Ella será tratada de la misma manera. El mundo juzga a la Iglesia por sus propias normas. No puede entenderla. No puede aceptarla. Se niega a recibirla, a menos que ella hace a sí misma como el mundo. El mundo sólo puede amar a sí mismo. Y cualquier persona que desea ser amado por el mundo, debe ser como el mundo. Pero mucho peor que el juicio del mundo, es el juicio de sus propios hijos. Incluso sus propios hijos no reciben sus enseñanzas.
Mis hermanos, no somos como los profetas que fueron rechazados, insultados y asesinados. Somos como los hijos de Israel que así trataron a los profetas. El mundo no necesita perseguirnos. Nos callamos cuando deberíamos hablar. Hablamos cuando deberíamos escuchar. Somos infieles a nuestra Iglesia y a sus enseñanzas. Somos cualquier cosa menos santos. No somos como San Pablo.

Es demasiado fácil para pintar la imagen de nosotros como pobres cristianos perseguidos. En primer lugar debemos ser cristianos. Si queremos que otros puedan recibir a Cristo, primero tenemos que recibirlo. Si queremos que otros puedan conocer las verdades de la vida cristiana, primero tenemos que vivirlas. Si queremos que otros puedan amar a Dios, primero tenemos que amarlo. Este es el secreto de Pablo: ama a Dios y por lo tanto, dice: “Así pues, de buena gana prefiero gloriarme de mis debilidades, para que se manifieste en mí el poder de Cristo. Por eso me alegro de las debilidades, los insultos, las necesidades, las persecuciones y las dificultades que sufro por Cristo, porque cuando soy más débil, soy más fuerte.” Encontró a Jesús y confesó que Jesucristo es el Señor.

Y ustedes, ¿quién dicen que es Jesus?

Jun 14, 2015

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.”

The just man sins seven times a day the Sacred Scriptures tell us. Jesus says: “But the things which proceed out of the mouth, come forth from the heart, and those things defile a man. For from the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies. These are the things that defile a man.” In our society, we seem to have quite the difficulty in identifying our own sins. But as a society we have no problem identifying the sins of others. How easy it is for us to categorize the other! Here is the paradox of our day. We call evil, good and good, evil. We call murder, choice; sexual sins, personal fulfillment; and we call faith, bigotry. Even after we erase the notion of sin, we go on to invent new sins with which to shame and accuse one another. For we have lost our horror of sin, except when we see it in another person. We are good at judging the sins of others, and we are blind to our own sinfulness. I can’t tell you how many times I hear something like the following: “I don’t really have any big sins, I mean I’m not a murderer, I’m basically a good person. I’m sure I have faults, of course, but I couldn’t recall what they are really.” Nevertheless, we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.

What is this judgment seat? What does it look like? Many of us may think of God like a judge seated above us, perhaps wearing black robes, reading from a list of our actions and then proclaiming sentence upon our lives. There is some truth to this. We will be judged on every action, every thought and every word. But it will not be because heaven is an exclusive club and God only wishes to keep company with the best sort. Rather, God is Eternal Truth, Infinite Goodness, Perfect Beauty. His Truth radiates from Himself into the hearts and minds of all who contemplate Him. This is the judgment: to stand in the light of His glory and see ourselves with perfect clarity, just as God sees us, just as we really are.

Every one of us has the scars, bruises and scrapes that come from simply living life. Some of them are caused by others, some are caused by ourselves. Jesus is able to heal them all. Some are wounds that go so deep, that only time and much prayer is able to heal them. The healing begins with asking the Lord to heal us of the guilt by going to confession. But perhaps the wound will still remain. Often it is necessary to forgive ourselves and even to pardon the person who wounded us. As much as we need to receive the pardon of the Lord, we equally need to give forgiveness to ourselves and others. The truths that we tell in the confessional and in our prayers help us to focus on the mercy, goodness and beauty of our Savior. The secrets that we keep locked away from the gaze of His mercy will go on to obscure for us the splendor of His love when we see Him face to face. Then we shall see ourselves just as we are with all our wounds. Will we recognize the mercy of our Savior in the glorious wounds of His Sacred Body or will we only shudder in horror at our own deformity?

By telling the truth about ourselves, forming our consciences, showing our wounds to the Savior, indeed, putting our wounds into His Wounds in the confessional, we receive forgiveness and come to know His Mercy. Only then can we also share with others the Beauty and Mercy of our Savior, without passing over the truth about sin.

May 31, 2015

Most Holy Trinity, 2015

Jesus said to his apostles: Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you."

The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is a mystery which is difficult to preach upon. This mystery is not something discovered by human reason. This mystery is revealed to us by Jesus Christ. The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: "44. The central mystery of the faith and of the christian life is the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Christians are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. 45. God has left some traces of his trinitarian being in creation and in the Old Testament but his inmost being as the Holy Trinity is a mystery which is inaccessible to reason alone or even to Israel’s faith before the Incarnation of the Son of God and the sending of the Holy Spirit. This mystery was revealed by Jesus Christ and it is the source of all the other mysteries. 48. The Church expresses her trinitarian faith by professing a belief in the oneness of God in whom there are three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The three divine Persons are only one God because each of them equally possesses the fullness of the one and indivisible divine nature. They are really distinct from each other by reason of the relations which place them in correspondence to each other. The Father generates the Son; the Son is generated by the Father; the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son."

The central mystery of the faith and of the christian life. This mystery is not something principally for the intellect. It is not a puzzle. It is not reducible to the formulas which express it. Through baptism the Most Holy Trinity dwells in the human soul. Who is able to understand this? St. Augustine wrote in his book "The Confessions," about his struggle to understand how it was possible that he might contain in himself the God who all the universe, heaven and earth, cannot contain. What great mystery!

But, why does God reveal a mystery which we are unable to understand? So that we might know the depths of his love for us. Love does not hide itself. Love reveals itself. Even if it is impossible that the Beloved shoud understand fully the Lover, Love, nevertheless, opens itself to the other. We have a God who is no longer a stranger, but in his desire for intimacy with us, he has revealed his own interior life. What we are not able to know by human reason, God has given to us to known by faith.

What has God revealed? We say it in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed every Sunday. But I will read the Creed of Saint Athanasius, which has been a part of the ancient roman liturgy for many centuries.

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled; without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated; the Son uncreated; and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. The Father eternal; the Son eternal; and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals; but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated; nor three infinites, but one uncreated; and one infinite. So likewise the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty. So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity; to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the catholic religion; to say, There are three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none; neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created; but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten; but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before, or after another; none is greater, or less than another. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid; the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity.

Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation; that he also believe faithfully the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess; that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God, of the Essence of the Father; begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the Essence of his Mother, born in the world. Perfect God; and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father as touching his Manhood. Who although he is God and Man; yet he is not two, but one Christ. One; not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh; but by assumption of the Manhood by God. One altogether; not by confusion of Essence; but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man; so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell; rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of the God the Father Almighty, from whence he will come to judge the living[17] and the dead. At whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies; And shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire. This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe truly and firmly, he cannot be saved.

Nevertheless, the mystery is more to be adored and loved than to be studied with the end of solving it. However, it ought to be studied and contemplated, not to solve it, but rather, in order to more profoundly know so that we might love it more fully. On the contrary, what do we recite every Sunday in the Creed? Empty words which we have learned by rote, but do not understand?

Let us contemplate, my brothers and sisters, the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, which is the font of all the mysteries of our faith. Here is the great dignity of the christian: the Son condescended to become one of us, so that we might share in the eternal life of the Most Holy Trinity.

* * *

Jesús les dijo a los apóstoles: Vayan, pues, enseñen a todas las naciones, bautizándolas en el nombre del Padre, y del Hijo, y del Espíritu Santo, y enseñándolas a cumplir todo cuanto yo les he mandado. "

El misterio de la Santísima Trinidad es un misterio difícil de predicar. Este misterio no es algo descubierto por la razón humana. Este misterio es revelado a nosotros por Jesucristo. El Compendio del Catecismo de la Iglesia Católica dice: "44. El misterio central de la fe y de la vida cristiana es el misterio de la Santísima Trinidad. Los cristianos son bautizados en el nombre del Padre y del Hijo y del Espíritu Santo. 45. Dios he dejado huellas de su ser trinitario en la creación y en el Antiquo Testamento, pero la intimidad de su ser como Trinidad Santa constituye un misterio inaccesible a la sola razón humana e incluso a la fe de Israel, antes de la Encarnación del Hijo de Dios y del envío del Espíritu Santo. Este misterio ha sido revelado por Jesucristo, y es la fuente de todos los demás misterios. 48. La Iglesia expressa su fe trinitario confesando un solo Dios en tres Personas: Padre, Hijo y Espíritu Santo. Las tres divinas Personas son un solo Dios porque cada una de ellas es idéntica a la plenitud de la única e indivisible naturaleza divina. Las tres son realmente distintas entre sí, por sus relaciones recíprocas: el Padre engendra al Hijo, el Hijo es engendrado por el Padre, el Espíritu Santo procede del Padre y del Hijo."

El misterio centro de la fe y de la vida cristiana. Este misterio no es algo principalmente para el intelecto. No es un rompecabezas. No es reducible a las fórmulas que expresan. A través del bautismo la Santísima Trinidad habita en el alma humana. ¿Quién puede entender esto? San Agustín escribió en su libro "Las Confesiones", su lucha para entender cómo es posible que contenga en sí mismo el Dios que todo el universo, el cielo y la tierra, no puede contener. ¡Qué gran misterio!

Pero, ¿por qué Dios nos revela un misterio que no se puede entender? Para que podamos conocer las profundidades de su amor por nosotros. El amor no se esconde a sí mismo. El amor se revela. Incluso si es imposible que el Amado de entender plenamente el amante, el amor, sin embargo, se abre a la otra. Tenemos un Dios que ya no es un desconocido, pero en su deseo de intimidad con nosotros, él ha revelado su propia vida interior. Lo que no puede ser conocido por la razón humana, Dios nos ha dado a conocer por la fe.

Qué ha revelado Dios? Nosotros decimos que en el Símbolo niceno-constantinopolitano todos los domingos. Pero voy a leer el Credo de San Atanasio, que ha sido una parte de la antigua liturgia romana durante muchos siglos.:

Quienquiera desee salvarse debe, ante todo, guardar la Fe Católica: quien no la observare íntegra e inviolada, sin duda perecerá eternamente.

Esta es la Fe Católica: que veneramos a un Dios en la Trinidad y a la Trinidad en unidad. Ni confundimos las personas, ni separamos las substancias. Porque otra es la persona del Padre, otra la del Hijo, otra la del Espíritu Santo: Pero la divinidad del Padre y del Hijo y del Espíritu Santo es una, es igual su gloria, es coeterna su majestad. Como el Padre, tal el Hijo, tal el Espíritu Santo. Increado el Padre, increado el Hijo, increado el Espíritu Santo. Inmenso el Padre, inmenso el Hijo, inmenso el Espíritu Santo. Eterno el Padre, eterno el Hijo, eterno el Espíritu Santo. Y, sin embargo, no tres eternos, sino uno eterno. Como no son tres increados ni tres inmensos, sino uno increado y uno inmenso. Igualmente omnipotente el Padre, omnipotente el Hijo, omnipotente el Espíritu Santo. Y, sin embargo, no tres omnipotentes, sino uno omnipotente. Como es Dios el Padre, es Dios el Hijo, es Dios el Espíritu Santo. Y, sin embargo, no tres dioses, sino un Dios. Como es Señor el Padre, es Señor el Hijo, es Señor el Espíritu Santo. Y, sin embargo, no tres señores sino un Señor. Porque, así como la verdad cristiana nos compele a confesar que cualquiera de las personas es, singularmente, Dios y Señor, así la religión católica nos prohibe decir que son tres Dioses o Señores. Al Padre nadie lo hizo: ni lo creó, ni lo engendró. El Hijo es sólo del Padre: no hecho, ni creado, sino engendrado. El Espíritu Santo es del Padre y del Hijo: no hecho, ni creado, ni engendrado, sino procedente de ellos. Por tanto, un Padre, no tres Padres; un Hijo, no tres Hijos, un Espíritu Santo, no tres Espíritus Santos. Y en esta Trinidad nada es primero o posterior, nada mayor o menor: sino todas la tres personas son coeternas y coiguales las unas para con las otras. Así, para que la unidad en la Trinidad y la Trinidad en la unidad sea venerada por todo, como se dijo antes.

Quien quiere salvarse, por tanto, así debe sentir de la Trinidad. Pero, para la salud eterna, es necesario creer fielmente también en la encarnación de nuestro Señor Jesucristo. Es pues fe recta que creamos y confesemos que nuestro Señor Jesucristo, Hijo de Dios, es Dios y hombre. Es Dios de la substancia del Padre, engendrado antes de los siglos, y es hombre de la substancia de la madre, nacido en el tiempo. Dios perfecto, hombre perfecto: con alma racional y carne humana. Igual al Padre, según la divinidad; menor que el Padre, según la humanidad. Aunque Dios y hombre, Cristo no es dos, sino uno. Uno, no por conversión de la divinidad en carne, sino porque la humanidad fue asumida por Dios. Completamente uno, no por mezcla de las substancias, sino por unidad de la persona. Porque, como el alma racional y la carne son un hombre, así Dios y hombre son un Cristo. Que padeció por nuestra salud: descendió a los infiernos, al tercer día resucitó de entre los muertos. Ascendió a los cielos, está sentado a la derecha de Dios Padre omnipotente; de allí vendrá a juzgar a vivos y muertos. A su venida, todos los hombres tendrán que resucitar con sus propios cuerpos, y tendrán que dar cuenta de sus propios actos. Los que actuaron bien irán a la vida eterna; los que mal, al fuego eterno. Esta es la fe católica, quien no la crea fiel y firmemente, no podrá salvarse. Amén.


Pues, el misterio es más para ser adorado y amado que ser estudiado con el fin de resolverlo. Sin embargo, debe ser estudiado y contemplado, no para resolverlo, sino más bien, para conocer más profundamente para que lo amemos más plenamente. De lo contrario, ¿qué recitamos cada domingo en el Credo? ¿Palabras vacías que hemos aprendido de memoria, pero no entendemos?

Contemplemos, mis hermanos y hermanas, el misterio de la Santísima Trinidad, que es la fuente de todos los misterios de nuestra fe. Aquí está la gran dignidad del cristiano: el Hijo condescendió a ser uno de nosotros, para que podamos compartir en la vida eterna de la Santísima Trinidad.

May 26, 2015

Pentecost, 2015

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

The Spirit was present at the creation of the world. He came down upon Joshua, Saul, David and others. John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb. The Blessed Virgin Mary was filled with the Holy Spirit at the Annunciation when she was overshadowed and conceived our Lord in the flesh. At our Lord’s baptism the Spirit came to rest upon Him. What does it mean then to celebrate the Feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit? The Gospel of John says that the Spirit was waiting for the glorification of Jesus. The coming that we celebrate overcomes sin in the world and the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts by faith.

St. Augustine says, “We are to understand then that the giving of the Holy Spirit was to be certain, after Christ’s exaltation, in a way in which it never was before. It was to have a peculiarity at His coming, which it had not before. ... But why did our Lord give the Holy Spirit after His resurrection? That the flame of love might mount upwards to our own resurrection: separating us from the world, and devoting us wholly to God.” Jesus gives us not just the power of the Spirit for prophecy or even evangelization, not just for mercy and forgiveness, but above all He desires the gift of love which is the Holy Spirit, which the dwells in Him from the Father, to dwell also in us.

The Spirit did indeed come upon many prophets and prophetesses, so that He might reveal truths into the world and give signs for belief in the only true God. But what Jesus won for us in His suffering, death, resurrection and ascension is the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Permanent because His presence is not given to accomplish signs or make revelations, though He does both, nor to accomplish any other task. His presence is permanent because He wishes to transform us with His life and so to unite us to Himself forever.

“And my delights were with the sons of men,” says Proverbs. Sin alone chases away this permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Yet, it is the Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin, then bestows mercy and forgiveness on us, and making us once more His own, He comes to dwell again with us sinners. He transforms the sinner with His holiness. He makes the old become new, and bestows eternal life on the spiritually dead.

Since Jesus in His humanity willingly gave his life as a sacrifice of love, the Father raised Him in glory. And when He ascended to heaven, the human nature which He took from us, He also brought before the throne of God. Our humanity received in Christ Jesus this gift from the Father: not only that the Holy Spirit should be with Him in His Divine Person or in His humanity on account of His Divine Person but as a gift to be given even to us. Thus the Paschal Mystery was brought to completion by the descent of the Holy Spirit upon those who believe so that they, too, might come before the throne of God in their human natures and live with him forever.

It is the sacrifice of Christ which John calls the glorification of Jesus. The Crucifixion is His hour and He is glorified in it. So the Sacrifice gives us the Spirit, and the Spirit, in turn, makes present the Sacrifice. The Son wishes us to have His Spirit. The Spirit wishes us to have the Son. Jesus tells us, “As the Father has loved me, I also have loved you. Abide in my love.” The Gift of Love brings forth love. When we eat this Sacrifice of Love, the fruit of the Spirit within us grows deeper, broader and more intense. The more we are conformed to Jesus in our lives and our hearts, which is to say cruci-formed, the more intensely does the Spirit dwell within us. This increase of union is not only with Jesus but with one another. The Spirit overcomes the separation of sin and division and confusion of the world. He speaks the word of faith into hearts and inflames them with the fire of Divine Love. Until we enter paradise and our union is brought to perfection and our love remains forever.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and kindle in them the fire of Thy love.

***

El Espíritu estuvo presente en la creación del mundo. Él descendió sobre Josué, Saúl, David y otros. Juan el Bautista fue lleno del Espíritu Santo aun desde el vientre de su madre. La Santísima Virgen María fue llena del Espíritu Santo en la Anunciación, cuando fue eclipsado y concibió nuestro Señor en la carne. En nuestro bautismo del Señor, el Espíritu llegó al descanso sobre él. ¿Qué significa entonces para celebrar la fiesta de la venida del Espíritu Santo? El Evangelio dice que el Espíritu estaba esperando a la glorificación de Jesús. La venida que celebramos vence el pecado en el mundo y el Espíritu Santo habita en nuestros corazones por la fe.

San Agustín dice: "Tenemos que entender entonces que el don del Espíritu Santo había de ser cierta, después de la exaltación de Cristo, de una manera en la que nunca antes. Que era tener una particularidad en su venida, que no lo había hecho antes. ... Pero ¿por qué nuestro Señor da el Espíritu Santo después de su resurrección? Que el fuego del amor podría elevarse hacia arriba para nuestra propia resurrección:. Que nos separa del mundo, y nos dedican totalmente a Dios "Jesús nos da no sólo el poder del Espíritu de profecía o incluso la evangelización, no sólo por la misericordia y el perdón, pero por encima de todo Él desea que el don del amor que es el Espíritu Santo, que habita en él desde el Padre, habitar también en nosotros.

El Espíritu ciertamente vino de muchos profetas y profetisas, para que pudiera revelar verdades en el mundo y dar señales de creencia en el único Dios verdadero. Pero lo que Jesús ganó para nosotros en su sufrimiento, muerte, resurrección y ascensión es la inhabitación permanente del Espíritu Santo. Permanente, porque no se le da su presencia para lograr signos o hacer revelaciones, a pesar de que hace las dos cosas, ni para lograr cualquier otra tarea. Su presencia es permanente porque él nos quiere transformar con su vida, para unirnos a él para siempre.

"Y mis delicias son con los hijos de los hombres", dice Proverbios. Sin solos nos priva de esta inhabitación permanente del Espíritu Santo. Sin embargo, es el Espíritu Santo que nos convence de pecado, entonces confiere la misericordia y el perdón sobre nosotros, y haciéndonos, una vez más los suyos, él viene a habitar de nuevo con nosotros, pecadores. Él transforma al pecador con su santidad. Él hace que el viejo se convierten en nuevos, y concede la vida eterna a aquellos que están espiritualmente muertos.

Puesto que Jesús en su humanidad voluntariamente dio su vida como un sacrificio de amor, el Padre lo resucitó en gloria. Y cuando ascendió al cielo, la naturaleza humana que tomó de nosotros, él trajo también ante el trono de Dios. Nuestra humanidad recibió en Cristo Jesús este regalo del Padre: no sólo que el Espíritu Santo debe estar con él en su persona divina o en su humanidad a causa de su Persona divina, sino como un don para darnos. Así, el misterio pascual fue llevado hasta su finalización por el descenso del Espíritu Santo sobre los que creen, para que ellos también podrían venir ante el trono de Dios en sus naturalezas humana y vivir con él para siempre.

Es el sacrificio de Cristo que Juan llama la glorificación de Jesús. La crucifixión es su hora y Él es glorificado por la Cruz. Así que el sacrificio nos da el Espíritu, y el Espíritu, a su vez, hace presente el sacrificio. El Hijo nos desea tener su Espíritu. El Espíritu nos quiere tener el Hijo. Jesús nos dice: "Como el Padre me amó, también yo os he amado. Permaneced en mi amor. "El don de amor engendra amor. Cuando comemos este Sacrificio de amor, el fruto del Espíritu en nosotros hace más profundo, más amplio y más intensa. Cuanto más somos conformados a Jesús en nuestras vidas y nuestros corazones, más intensamente mora el Espíritu dentro de nosotros. Este aumento de la unión es no sólo con Jesús pero uno con el otro. El Espíritu supera la separación del pecado y de la división y la confusión del mundo. Él habla la palabra de la fe en los corazones y los inflama con el fuego del amor divino. Hasta que entramos en el paraíso y nuestra unión se lleva a la perfección y nuestro amor permanecerá para siempre.

May 11, 2015

Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B

"Love consists in this: not that we have loved God, rather in that He first loved us and sent us His Son, as a victim of expiation for our sins."

I talk often about the liturgy and the importance of praying the liturgy correctly. The norms of the liturgy, the rubrics, are not burdensome. On the contrary, when we are obedient, they form en us the correct disposition to receive the grace of Christ. In fact, we are being made like Christ, especially through the sacred liturgy.

The eucharist is the expiation for our sins, because it is love, because it is Him who died and rose again for us. When we participate in the prayers and above all when we receive holy communion, we receive the love of Christ and we unite our love, our good words and our prayers to His love, for the praise and glory of the Father.

Therefore, it is just as important how we worship as how we live. It is not sufficient to worship correctly, if we do not live with love for each other. "This is my commandment: that you love one another as I have loved you," says Jesus.

If we love one another, including our enemies, only then will we be able to recognize truly the great love that will be present upon our altar. If we do not love in truth, we tell Him a despicable lie when we praise Him with our songs and take Him into our souls. When we serve the poor, the oppressed, the afflicted, the stranger - we serve Christ Himself. The same Christ through whom we offer the great sacrifice of love: His love and our love. His love is always acceptable to the Father and hence always brings salvation to the world. But we must unite like with like: the sacrifice of our lives ought to express the love of Christ and love for Christ.

"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete," says Jesus.

* * *

“El amor consiste en esto: no en que nosotros hayamos amado a Dios, sino en que él nos amó primero y nos envióa su Hijo, como víctima de expiación por nuestros pecados.”

Hablo a menudo acerca de la liturgia y de la importancia de rezar la liturgia correctamente. Las normas de la liturgia, las rúbricas, no son gravosos. Por el contrario, cuando somos obedientes, forman en nosotros la disposición correcta para recibir la gracia de Cristo. De hecho, estamos siendo hechos semejantes a Cristo, especialmente a través de la sagrada liturgia.

La eucaristía es la expiación por nuestros pecados, porque es el amor, porque es él que murió y resucitó por nosotros. Cuando participamos en las oraciones, y sobre todo cuando recibimos la sagrada comunión, recibimos el amor de Cristo y nos unimos a nuestro amor, nuestras buenas obras y nuestras oraciones a su amor, para la alabanza y la gloria del Padre.

Por eso es tan importante cómo adoramos y cómo vivimos. No es suficiente tener la adoración correcta, si no vivimos con amor los unos a los otros. “Este es mi mandamiento: que se amen los unos a los otros como yo los he amado,” dijo Jesús.

Si nos amamos unos a otros, incluyendo a nuestros enemigos, sólo entonces podremos reconocer verdaderamente el gran amor que estara presente en nuestro altar. Si no amamos de verdad, le decimos una mentira despreciable cuando lo alabamos por nuestras canciones y lo tomamos en nuestras almas. Cuando servimos a los pobres, los oprimidos, a los afligidos, el extranjero - servimos a Cristo mismo. El mismo Cristo a través de quien ofrecemos el gran sacrificio de amor: su amor y nuestro amor. Su amor es siempre aceptable al Padre y por lo tanto su sacrificio siempre trae la salvación al mundo. Pero debemos unir el similar con lo que es similar: el sacrificio de nuestras vidas debe expresar el amor de Cristo y el amor por Cristo.

Les he dicho esto para que mi alegría esté en ustedes y su alegría sea plena, dijo Jesús.


Apr 27, 2015

Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B

We are sons of God in the only son: Jesus. The Holy Mass is the prayer of Christ to his Father. Jesus gave us his life in order to save us. And in this we have been redeemed so that we might receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For this reason, it is necessary to make the responses of the Holy Mass with exactness. Jesus says about his sheep: "they know me," and he also says: "my sheep hear my voice; and I know them, and they follow me..."

What do you think? Is it important to learn the prayers of the Holy Mass? Or is it acceptable to be ignorant about them? If we do not know the proper prayers, that is to say, the responses, do we hear the voice of Christ, in truth? If we do know the proper responses, why do we not say them correctly? Either we are ignorant concerning the prayers of Christ and of his Church, or we are disobedient both to Christ and to his Church. Which are we: ignorant or disobedient?

Perhaps no one ever told you before about the importance of these prayers. Perhaps you believe, erroneously, that the Holy Mass is the expression of our thoughts and feelings. "Father, I want to pray in the way that pleases me!" I understand, but the Holy Mass is a great dignity that permits us to enter into the prayer of Christ. In the private home, pray how you wish. In the house of God, we pray together as one community and with one voice. Therefore, we say the same words. It is not a burden to permit the Holy Spirit, through the means of the Church, to teach us in our liturgy how to pray through Christ, with him and in him. On the contrary, it is a great gift, the supreme dignity of the christian.

For example, in the first Eucharistic prayer, the Roman Canon, there are several times where the various prayers which make up the Eucharistic prayer concludes with "Through Christ our Lord. Amen." Many of us are not accustomed to hearing the Roman Canon, and on the rare occasions that we do hear it prayed, these conclusions are often omitted. Yet, the conclusions belong to the very oldest form of praying in the Western Church. And the "Amen." belongs to the celebrant not to the assembly. The only "Amen"  that the assembly says is at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer at the doxology. And that "Amen" belongs to the people and not to the celebrant.

"O, father, what a small thing!" What does Jesus say in the Gospel according to Saint Luke? "He who is faithful in small matters, is also faithful in great matters; and he who is unfaithful in small matters, is also unfaithful in great matters." But, as St. Augustine says: "Quod minimum, minimum est, sed in minimo fidelem esse, magnum est, " which means, "What is a little matter, is a little matter, but to be faithful in the least thing, is a great thing." Freedom without limits, without obedience, is not freedom, but a form of license. Neither ignorance, nor negligence disposes us to receive the Spirit which makes us sons of God.

Now we are used to making our responses out of custom. We have to give our attention and focus ourselves in order to overcome the incorrect habits that we have. For that reason, I suggest to you that you use the Missalette, whether the one in the pew or another daily missalette like the Magnificat. The more often that we read the Holy Mass, the more it will form in us the correct responses.  I have no doubt that you desire to be faithful even in the smallest of matters. And more importantly, that you desire to hear the voice of Christ with devotion and faithfulness in order that you might receive his Spirit.

***

Somos hijos de Dios en el unico hijo: Jesús. Pues, la Santa Misa es la oracion de Cristo a su Padre. Jesús nos dio su vida para salvarnos. Y en esto hemos sido redimidos para que podamos recibir el don del Espiritu Santo. Por esta razon, es necesario hacer las respuestas de la Santa Misa con exactitud. Jesús dice acerca de sus ovejas: “ellas me conocen a mí,” y tambien él dice: “mis ovejas oyen mi voz; y yo las conozco, y me siguen...”

Que piensan ustedes? Es importante apprender las oraciones de la Santa Misa? O esta bien ser ignorantes de ellas? Si no sabemos las oraciones propias, es decir, las respuestas, oímos la voz de Cristo, en verdad? Si sabemos las respuestas propias, porque no las decimos correctamente?
O somos ignorantes acerca de las oraciones de Cristo y de su Iglesia, o somos desobedientes tanto a Cristo y a su Iglesia. ¿Qué somos: ignorantes o desobedientes?

Tal vez nadie nos ha dicho antes sobre la importancia de estas oraciones. Tal vez creemos erróneamente que la Santa Misa es la expresión de nuestros pensamientos y sentimientos. "Padre, quiero orar de la manera que me gusta!" Entiendo, pero la Santa Misa es la gran dignidad que nos permita entrar en la oración de Cristo. En la casa privada, oren como quieran. En la casa de Dios, oramos juntos como una comunidad y con una sola voz. Por eso, decimos las mismas palabras. No es ninguna carga permitir que el Espíritu Santo, a través de los medios de la Iglesia, nos enseñe en nuestra liturgia cómo orar por Cristo, con él y en él. al contrario, es el regalo más grande, la suprema dignidad del cristiano.

Por ejemplo, cuando el diácono anuncia el Evangelio: "Lectura del santo Evangelio según San Juan." ¿Cuál es la respuesta correcta? "Gloria a ti, Señor." Luego el diácono proclama el Evangelio, en lo que reconocemos la voz de Cristo. Una vez que escuchamos su voz, lo reconocemos. Por lo tanto, cuando el diácono dice "Palabra del Señor", aclamamos "Gloria a ti, Señor Jesús."

"Oh Padre, qué cosa tan pequeña!" ¿Qué dice Jesús en el Evangelio de Lucas? "El que es fiel en lo muy poco, tambien in lo más es fiel; y el que en lo muy poco es injusto, tambien in lo más es injusto." Pero, como dice san Agustín: "Quod minimum, minimum est, sed in minimo fidelem esse , magnum est", que significa: "¿Lo qué es pequeño, es pequeño, pero ser fiel en el pequeño es algo grande." La libertad sin límites, sin obediencia, no es libertad, sino una forma de licencia. Ni la ignorancia ni la negligencia nos dispone a recibir el Espíritu que nos hace hijos de Dios.

Ahora, respondemos a estas oraciones por costumbre. Tendremos que prestar atención y enfocarnos con el fin de superar los hábitos incorrectos que tenemos. Por lo tanto, les sugiero a todos ustedes, comenzar a usar este libro: Misal del Dia. Cuanto más a menudo leen las palabras en la Santa Misa, más se van a formar en ustedes las respuestas adecuadas a las oraciones. No tengo ninguna duda de que ustedes desean ser fieles aun en el asunto más pequeño. Y lo más importante, que desean escuchar la voz de Cristo con devoción y fidelidad para recibir su Espiritu.

Apr 19, 2015

Third Sunday of Easter, Year B

The Gospel speaks to us of the experience of the apostles after the resurrection. First, Jesus says to them: "Peace be with you." Then, he shows them his wounds. After this, he opens their minds so that they might understand the Scriptures. The resurrected body of Jesus has wounds. Not scars. Open wounds. "For he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities. The punishment, which was for our peace, fell upon Him, and by his wounds we have been healed, " says the prophet Isaiah.

How do we begin the Holy Mass? with the sign of the cross. Why? Only through the meditation of the open wounds of Christ are our minds opened to the Scriptures. For the same reason, Catholics first recall the two principals truths of our faith: that God is One and Three, and that we have been redeemed by the death and resurrection of the only begotten Son of God. After this, we exchange the salutation and then recall our sins with the help of the grace of the cross. In this, we show our wounds to him. Then, and only then, are we prepared to listen to the word of God proclaimed in the midst of the assembly.

How do we make the sign of the cross? With the right hand on the forehead, we say: "In the name of the Father..."; with our hand on our belly, we say: "and of the Son..."; with our hand on our left shoulder, we say: "and of the Holy..."; and with our hand on our right shoulder, we say: "Spirit. Amen." And finally, we make it in a careful manner, unhurriedly and orderly with affection and devotion.

For it is the sign of love, a love greater than the world has ever known. It ought not to be made in haste. Or without intentionality, without reflection or simply out of custom. The cross ought to be recalled with gratitude and love, in order that our minds may always be open to hear the word of God in the Scriptures and our hearts opened in order to receive his grace.

* * *

El Evangelio nos habla de la experiencia de los apóstoles después de la resurrección. Primero Jesús les dijo: "La paz este con ustedes." Entonces, él les mostró sus heridas. Después de esto, les abrió la mente para que comprendieran las Escrituras. El cuerpo resucitado de Jesús tiene heridas. No cicatrices. Heridas abiertas. “Mas El fue herido por nuestras transgresiones, molido por nuestras iniquidades. El castigo, por nuestra paz, cayó sobre El, y por sus heridas hemos sido sanados,” dice el profeta Isaias.

¿Cómo comenzamos la Santa Misa? con la señal de la cruz. ¿Por qué? Sólo a través de la meditación de las heridas abiertas de Cristo son nuestras mentes abiertas a las Escrituras. Por la misma razón, los católicos recuerdan primero las dos verdades principales de nuestra fe. Que Dios es Uno y Trino, y hemos sido redimidos por la muerte y resurrección del Hijo unigénito de Dios. Después de esto, nos intercambiamos el saludo y luego reconocemos nuestros pecados con la ayuda de la gracia de la cruz. En esto nosotros mostramos nuestras heridas a él. Entonces, y sólo entonces, estamos preparados para escuchar la palabra de Dios proclamada en medio de la asamblea.

¿Cómo hacer la señal de la cruz? Con la mano derecha en la frente, decimos: "En el nombre del Padre ..."; con la mano en el vientre, decimos: "y del Hijo ..."; con la mano en el hombro izquierdo, decimos: "y del Espíritu ..."; y con la mano en el hombro derecho, decimos: "Santo, Amén.". Y, finalmente, lo hacemos de una manera cuidadosa, pausada y ordenada con cariño y devoción.

Porque es una señal de amor, el amor más grande que el mundo ha conocido jamás. No se debe hacer apresuradamente. O hecho sin intención, sin reflexión o simplemente por costumbre. La cruz debe ser recordada con gratitud y amor, para que nuestras mentes siempre pueden ser abiertas para oír la palabra de Dios en las Escrituras y nuestros corazones se abran para recibir su gracia.

Apr 15, 2015

Divine Mercy Sunday 2015

I concelebrated yesterday the Byzantine Divine Liturgy. At the start of the Eucharist, the deacon says: Let us stand aright; let us stand with awe; let us be attentive to offer the holy Anaphora in peace." The faithful respond: Mercy. Peace. A sacrifice of praise.

Today the Catholic Church offers us an indulgence for participating on this day in devotion to the Divine Mercy. In order to receive the indulgence, it is necessary to participate in the devotions (or to recite the Our Father and the Creed in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and to add a prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus). It is also necessary to go to confession, to receive communion, and to pray for the intentions of the Holy Father.

Many persons will take care to fulfill these things exactly. A question: Which is more important: the devotion and the indulgence or the Sacrifice of the Mass? Of course, the Holy Mass. Then, why do many people not take care to fulfill the prayers of the Holy Mass with exactness?

The Holy Mass is no the expression of my private sentiments. Yes, I am able to unite all of my feelings, together with the prayers of the Church, but first it is necessary to fulfill the prayers of the Church! When I change some of the words of the prayers, these prayers no longer belong to the Church. In face, it is a sin to change the prayers of the Church. Why?

First. The Holy Mass is the prayer of Christ, who handed it over to his spouse, the Church. Hence, it is a very special gift. It is the prayer of Christ in the unity of the Holy Spirit to the almighty Father. What do you think? Ought we to change the prayer of Christ and of his Church?

Second. The Holy Mass is the prayer of the whole Church. When we change the prayers, we also separate ourselves from the rest of the Church. But the Holy Mass is a prayer of unity, not of separation.

The Holy Mass is the mercy of God for us. We are capable of uniting our voices and hearts with Christ, who was crucified and rose on the third day, the same who will be present upon our altar. Is it possible to unite our prayers with him, if we separate ourselves for the prayers of his Church?

Christ is our mercy. Christ is our peace. Christ is our sacrifice of praise. The Byzantine Liturgy understands this reality: What do we await in the Eucharist? The coming of Him. Mercy. Peace. A Sacrifice of Praise.

* * *

Celebré ayer la Divina Liturgia de la Iglesia bizantina. Al comienzo de la Eucaristía, el diácono dice: "Pongámonos de pie erguido; Pongámonos de pie con asombro; Estemos atentos a ofrecer la anáfora santa en paz..." Los fieles responden: Misericordia. Paz. Un sacrificio de alabanza.

Hoy la Iglesia Católica nos ofrece una indulgencia por participar en este día en devoción a la Divina Misericordia. Para recibir la indulgencia es necesario participar en las devociones (o recitar el Padre Nuestro y el Credo en presencia del Santísimo Sacramento, y una oración al Señor Jesús misericordioso. También es necesario ir a la confesión, recibir la comunión, y orar por las intenciones del Papa.

Muchas personas se cuidan de cumplir exactamente estas cosas. Una pregunta: ¿Qué es más importante: la devoción y la indulgencia o el Sacrificio de la Misa? Por supuesto, la Santa Misa. Entonces, ¿por qué muchas personas no se cuidan de cumplir con las oraciones de la Santa Misa con exactitud?

La Santa Misa no es la expresión de mis sentimientos privados. Sí, soy capaz de unir a todos mis sentimientos, junto con las oraciones de la Iglesia, pero primero es necesario hacer las oraciones de la Iglesia. Cuando cambio algunas de las palabras de las oraciones, estas oraciones ya no pertenecen a la Iglesia. De hecho, es un pecado para cambiar las palabras de la Iglesia. ¿Por qué?

Primero. La Santa Misa es la oración de Cristo, que le entregó a su esposa, la Iglesia. Por eso, es un don muy especial. Es la oración de Cristo en la unidad del Espíritu Santo al Padre omnipotente. Qué piensas? ¿Debemos cambiar la oración de Cristo y de su Iglesia?

Segundo. La Santa Misa es la oración de toda la Iglesia. Cuando cambiamos las oraciones, también nos separamos del resto de la Iglesia. Pero la Santa Misa es una oración de unidad, no de separación.

La Santa Misa es la misericordia de Dios para nosotros. Somos capaces de unir nuestras voces y nuestros corazones con Cristo, el que fue crucificado y resucitó al tercer día, el mismo que estará presente en nuestro altar. ¿Es posible unir nuestras oraciones con él, si nos separamos de las oraciones de su iglesia?

Cristo es nuestra misericordia. Cristo es nuestra paz. Cristo es nuestro sacrificio de alabanza. La Liturgia bizantina entiende esta realidad: ¿Qué esperamos en la Eucaristía? la venida de Él. Misericordia. Paz. Un sacrificio de alabanza.

Apr 6, 2015

Easter Sunday, 2015

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Christ is risen! He is truly risen! This is the ancient Paschal greeting: Christos anesti! Alithos anesti! Christus surrexit! Vere surrexit!

But what precisely is this resurrection of Christ? And why does it matter? There have been many resurrections. Elijah raised the son of the Zarephath widow from the dead. Elisha raised the son of the Shunammite woman from the dead. A man brought back to life when his body touched the bones of Elisha. Jesus raised the son of the widow of Nain from the dead. He also raised the daughter of Jairus and he raised his friend Lazarus from the dead. Peter raised Dorcas from the dead. Paul raised Eutychus from the dead. What is different about the resurrection of Jesus? All these others died again. Jesus died once for all and he lives forever.

The Church says a strange thing in her prayers. “O God, who on this day, through your Only Begotten Son, have conquered death and unlocked for us the path of eternity.” This day. The Church does not say that day – that day long ago when Jesus rose from the dead. This day. Why do we pray this way?

The Holy Mass is not merely a collection of prayers which remember something that happened in the past. Neither is the Holy Mass a re-doing of those events. Rather, the sacred mysteries which we celebrate are made present to us and, if we are disposed to receive them, effective in us. So it is rightly said “This day.” The victory over death was won on that day, but the power of the mystery of his glorious resurrection is still triumphing over death and sin in our hearts today. For us, his resurrection is today. We do not merely remember that day long ago when he rose, but also we pray for his resurrection to be manifested in our lives and powerful in our hearts!

The Church also prays “It is truly right and just, our duty and salvation, at all times to acclaim you, O Lord, but on this day above all to laud you yet more gloriously, when Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.” The glory of the resurrection is the acceptance by the Father of the sacrifice of his Son upon the Cross. Adam took the fruit from the tree in the Garden and gave us death to eat. The resurrection changes the death of the Messiah upon a tree from the defeat of death into a sign of victory: the tree of death is exchanged for a tree of life, whose fruit we eat from our altars. The resurrection changes everything! We can see the beginning of those changes in our Gospel.


The Apostles were not simply waiting around for Jesus to rise from the dead. Luke writes that women saw angels who announce the resurrection. Yet, when the women tell the apostles, Luke writes, “but their story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe them.” Luke tells us that after Peter saw the empty tomb, he went home wondering at what had happened. John looks into the tomb, but enters after Peter, and he sees and believes. Mary Madgdalene even talks to Jesus in the garden but doesn’t recognize him. She thinks he is the caretaker – until he says her name. The story of the disciples is not: “We knew it all along.” Even after Jesus appears, Thomas will demand proof: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A more honest story could not be told. Somehow, afterwards, the apostles believe. They go from hiding in the upper room in fear to publicly proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus. All but one will die a martyr. They opened their hearts in faith and the power of the resurrection changed them.

We, too, must accept the gift of faith. Like Mary Magdalene, we have to search for our Lord and listen for him calling our name. Perhaps with John, we need to look again and begin to believe. Like Peter, we may marvel and wonder at this day. Peter ran to the tomb on account of wonder, but afterwards came to believe on account of love. If we open our hearts to faith in the resurrection, the power of our risen Lord can change us: for Christ our Passover, has been sacrificed; therefore let us keep the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth, alleluia, alleluia!

* * *

"Este es el día que el Señor ha hecho; regocijémonos y alegrémonos en él. "¡Cristo ha resucitado! Én verdad ha resucitado! Este es el antiguo saludo pascual: Christos anesti! Alithos anesti! Christus Surrexit! Vere Surrexit!

Pero ¿qué es exactamente esta resurrección de Cristo? ¿Y por qué es importante? Ha habido muchas resurrecciones. Elías resucitó al hijo de la viuda de Sarepta. Eliseo resucitó al hijo de la mujer sunamita. Un hombre fue resuscitado cuando su cuerpo tocó los huesos de Eliseo. Jesús resucitó al hijo de la viuda de Naín. También resuscitó la hija de Jairo y su amigo Lázaro. Pedro resucitó a Dorcas de los muertos. Pablo resucitó a Eutico de los muertos. ¿Qué es diferente acerca de la resurrección de Jesús? Todos estos otros murieron de nuevo. Jesús murió una vez para siempre y ahora vive para siempre.

La Iglesia dice una cosa extraña en sus oraciones. "En verdad es justo y necesario, es nuestro deber y salvación glorificarte siempre, Señor, pero más que nunca en este día en que Cristo, nuestra pascua, fue inmolado." Este día. La Iglesia no dice ese día - ese día, hace mucho tiempo, cuando Jesús resucitó de entre los muertos. Este día. ¿Por qué oramos de esta manera? Cristo fue inmolado en Pascua? Si, la gloria de su resurrecion es la aceptación por el Padre del sacrificio de su Hijo en la Cruz. Adam tomó el fruto del árbol en el jardín y nos dio muerte a comer. La resurrección cambia la muerte del Mesías en un árbol en un signo de la victoria. El árbol de la muerte se intercambia por un árbol de la vida eterna, cuyo fruto comemos de nuestro altar. La resurrección cambia todo!

La Santa Misa no es simplemente una colección de oraciones que recordar algo que sucedió en el pasado. Ni es la Santa Misa una re-hacer de esos eventos. Más bien, los santos Misterios que celebramos se hacen presente para nosotros y, si estamos dispuestos a recibirlos, eficaces en nosotros. Por eso se dice con razón "Este día." La victoria sobre la muerte fue ganada en ese día, pero el poder del misterio de su gloriosa resurrección sigue triunfando sobre la muerte y el pecado en nuestros corazones hoy. Para nosotros, su resurrección es hoy. No recordamos sólo el hecho de que Jesús resucitó, pero oramos para que el poder de su resurrección podría cambiar nuestros corazones!

Podemos ver el cambio que la fe en la resurrección provoca en los corazones de los discípulos. Los apóstoles no estaban esperando en la fe de la resurrección. San Lucas escribe que las mujeres vieron ángeles que anuncian la resurrección. Sin embargo, cuando las mujeres les dicen a los apóstoles, San Lucas escribe, "pero todas estas palabras les parecían desvaríos y no les creían" San Lucas nos dice que después Pedro vio el sepulcro vacío, se regresó a su casa, asombrado por lo sucedido. Juan ve a la tumba, pero entró después de Pedro, y él vio y creyó. María Madgdalene incluso habla con Jesús en el jardín, pero no lo reconoció. Ella piensa que él es el cuidador - hasta que diga su nombre. La historia de los discípulos no es: " Lo sabíamos todo el tiempo." Incluso después de la aparición de Jesús, Tomás demanda pruebas: "Si no veo la marca de los clavos en sus manos y meto mi dedo en el lugar de los clavos y meto mi mano en su costado, no creeré." Una historia más honesto no podría ser contada. De alguna manera, después, los apóstoles creyeron. Sus vidas cambiaron de su escondite en el miedo en proclamar la resurrección de Jesús. Todos ellos mueren como mártir, excepto uno. Abrieron sus corazones en la fe y el poder de la resurrección les cambió.

Nosotros, también, debemos aceptar el don de la fe. Como María Magdalena, tenemos que buscar nuestro Señor y escuchar para él llamando a nuestro nombre. Tal vez con Juan, tenemos que mirar de nuevo y comenzar a creer. O como Pedro, nos preguntamos con asombro a la gloria de este día. Pedro corrió al sepulcro a causa del asombro, después empezó a creer a causa del amor. Si abrimos nuestros corazones a la fe en la resurrección, el poder de nuestro Señor resucitado nos puede cambiar: por Cristo, Cordero Pascual, ha sido inmolado; celebremos, pues la Pascua con una vida de rectitud y santidad, aleluya, aleluya!


Mar 22, 2015

Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year B

The prophet Jeremiah tells us about God’s promise to make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It is helpful to know that, before Jeremiah’s time, the nation of Israel had split into two kingdoms: the northern part known as Israel and the southern kingdom known as Judah. God says that he will make this covenant by placing the law within them and writing it upon their hearts. “All, from the least to greatest, shall know me, says the Lord, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.” On the surface, it is a promise to reunite the nation of Israel. God has bigger plans than this. He wants to unite all of humanity to himself.

The Father achieves this through Jesus. He does not say they shall repent and therefore I will no longer remember their sins. Our repentance is not the cause of his mercy. His mercy is the cause of our repentance. The Father achieves this by making it so that each heart may come to know him. He reveals himself in Jesus. The Gospel of Matthew (11:27) tells us: “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Jesus reveals the Father to us. “No man has ever seen God: the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.” Jesus tells us that he is the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through him.

In the Gospel we hear today, Jesus makes clear that the coming crucifixion is the reason for which he came. “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father glorify your name.” This last utterance seems strange. How is the Father glorified through the crucifixion of his only begotten Son? We are accustomed to hear that Jesus died for our sins, to expiate them, to redeem us – literally to purchase us back from slavery to sin. This gives the sense that our sins have incurred a just sentence of wrath and the payment must be fulfilled. Therefore the Father exacts payment from his Son because we are too poor to make payment ourselves. There is a truth here: our sins do incur a just penalty. And the perfect justice of God cannot ignore this reality. But it is not the pain and suffering, physical or emotional that somehow satiates the Father in his wrath.

Rather, the motive is love. In order to open our hearts to have knowledge of the Father, the only begotten Son allowed his own heart to be pierced. There are at least two loves that we can see upon the Cross: the love of the Son for the Father, that he would not save even his own life but trusted entirely upon the Father, keeping perfect purity and innocence: even, crying out to forgive those who were crucifying him. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” The second love is the love which the Son bears towards us. He condescended to be treated as a criminal for our sake, for our crimes. He knew the pain and misery of our lives, he stooped low, the just one, to undergo a share in the injustice of this world. If we take any time at all to consider the Holy Cross, we discover an abyss of love.

The Letter to the Hebrews says, “In the days when Christ Jesus was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. [And] he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” He cried out in our place because we do not make loud cries on account of our sins. He cried our tears. He bore our pain. He suffered our indignities. He did all this for love. It is his love which glorifies the Father’s name.

As we fast approach the end of the Lenten Season, it is time to renew our love and fervor for our Lord in our Lenten discipline by fixing our eyes upon the sign of the great love which Jesus bears for us. Let us lift him up in our hearts so that he might draw us to himself.

Mar 17, 2015

Fourth Sunday in Lent B

The people of God were unfaithful to the commandments. They imitated the nations, "and the people added infidelity to infidelity, practicing all the abominations of the nations." The abominations included the worship of idols. This happens to us also. It begins with the desire to live like the rest of the world. This leads to immorality of every type: living together without being married, pornography, abortion, contraceptives, divorce, unjust salaries, failure to care for the poor in our society and many other examples. Our private lives affect our religion. When we ignore the moral imperatives of justice and truth, we make ourselves to be little gods. If we do not adore God, we are going to adore something in his place: money, fame, success, possessions, or even our very selves. Sin darkens the soul. Would we listen if God sent a prophet or a saint to us? Why should we listen to a prophet or a saint, if we do not bother to listen to his Church?

The Light came into the world but, "people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God." Every sin is a step into the darkness and a denial of the truth. Due to the darkness of sin, the sinner does not see well. For this reason, the Israelites preferred the darkness to the light. They enjoyed their sins more than they respected the messengers of God. They treated the prophets with contempt, the same way that they treated Jesus. What a shame it is, that we are no different today.

The immorality of our generation is destroying the faith of many. We learn our morality more from the television than from the Church. Our lives are no different than the rest of the world, with one exception: we go to the Holy Mass on Sunday - sometimes. We spend more time learning about our favorite sports team than about the teachings of the Church. We know what occurred in our favorite television program better than we know the Sacred Scriptures.

Something more is necessary than simply to assist at the Holy Mass. If our lives are lived contrary to the truth and the light, the Holy Mass by itself will not save us. Are our lives any different than those who do not believe? What are we to do? How is anyone able to be saved? The disciples asked this same question of Jesus, also. And Jesus said to them, "For man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible."

Saint Paul wrote to the Ephesians: "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them." Saint James adds to this in his letter: "So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone mist say, 'You have faith and I have works.' Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble."

We cannot continue to live as the world lives. It is not sufficient to say: "I  believe in one God," if we do not say it with our lives. We must choose: will we prefer the Truth and the Light? or will we be satisfied with the darkness?

Feb 16, 2015

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

In the first reading, the Lord requires any person with leprosy to present themselves to a priest in order to be declared clean or unclean. And if they are unclean, they have to separate themselves from the community and warn others: "I am contaminated! I am unclean!" The person that has a sickness, also has the responsibility to let the priest see him and to decide whether or not it is leprosy. The person with leprosy has the responsibility not to propagate the infection to the community.

Jesus, in the Gospel, cures a leper. And then he says to him: "Go present yourself to the priest and offer for your purification what was prescibed by Moses." Jesus knows that he is clean, but still he requires the man to present himself to the priest and to make his offering. The offerings were sacrifices of different types. The priest offered these sacrifices in order to complete the cleansing and to return the person to full participation in the community.

Sin affects the soul in the same way as leprosy. Sin makes the soul become numb. Once the soul is numb, secondary infections cause deformities in the soul. The soul becomes blind and suffers separation from God and from others. The only remedy is to present yourself to the priest. It is necessary to go to confession. In the case of the leper, who judges: the leper or the priest? The priest declares that the leper is clean. It is the same for the sinner. Sinners do not declare themselves cleansed from their sins. As a priest, I am able to declare that other persons are clean, but as a sinner, I , also, have need of a priest.

The sacrifices offered by the priest of the Old Testament were shadows of the true sacrifice offered by Jesus on the Cross. He gave this sacrifice to his Church so that it might be offered upon our altars. Jesus is our offering, yet we also unite to his only true offering the offering of our own lives. However, it is not sufficient to be present at the Holy Mass for the offering.

We must show ourselves to Jesus. We must ask him to cure us. Then we have to present ourselves to the priest so that he might pronounce that we have been cleansed. And the priest will offer the sacrifice upon the altar and we can participate in the sacrifice.

Jesus looks at you with compassion. He longs to cure you and give you his peace and mercy. He speaks to you the same words that he pronounced to the leper: "I will. Be healed!" But afterwards he also requires that we go to the priest and then we may particpate in his offering. "Blessed is he whose fault is taken away, whose sin is covered."

***

En la primera lectura, el Señor requiere que cualquier persona con lepra a presentarse a un sacerdote para ser declarada limpia o inmunda. Y si son inmundos, tienen que separarse de la comunidad y advertir a los demás: Estoy contaminado! Soy impuro! La persona que tiene una enfermedad, tambien tiene la responsabilidad de dejar que el sacerdote lo ve y decidir si es o no la lepra. La persona con lepra tiene la responsabilidad de no propagar la infección a la comunidad.

Jesús, en el Evangelio, cura a un leproso. Y entonces él le dice: "Ve a presentarte al sacerdote y ofrece por tu purificación lo prescrito por Moisés." Jesús sabe que él está limpio, pero aún requiere el hombre a presentarse al sacerdote y hacer su ofrenda. Las ofrendas eran sacrificios de diferentes tipos. El sacerdote ofreció estos sacrificios para completar la limpieza y devolver la persona a la plena participación en la comunidad.

El pecado afecta el alma de la misma manera como la lepra. El pecado hace que el alma se vuelva insensible. Una vez que el alma es insensible infecciones secundarias causan deformidades en el alma. El alma se vuelve ciego y sufre la separación de Dios y de los demás. El único remedio es presentarte al sacerdote. Es necesario ir a la confesión. En el caso del leproso, quien juzga: el leproso o el sacerdote? El sacerdote declara que el leproso está limpio. Es lo mismo con el pecador. El pecador no declara a sí mismo limpiado de sus pecados. Como sacerdote, puedo declarar que otras personas están limpias, pero como un pecador, yo también necesito un sacerdote.

Los sacrificios ofrecidos por el sacerdote del Antiguo Testamento eran sombras del sacrificio verdadero ofrecido por Jesús en la Cruz. Dio este sacrificio a su Iglesia para que ofreciese sobre nuestros altares. Jesús es nuestra oferta, aunque también unimos a su sola ofrenda verdadera la ofrenda de nuestras propias vidas. Sin embargo, no es suficiente estar presentes en la Santa Misa para la ofrenda.

Debemos mostrarnos a Jesús. Debemos pedirle a curarnos. Entonces tenemos que presentarnos al sacerdote para que pueda pronunciar que hemos sido limpiados. Y el sacerdote ofrecerá el sacrificio sobre el altar y podemos participar en el sacrificio.

Jesús te mira con compasión. Él anhela curarte y darte su paz y misericordia. Él te habla las mismas palabras que pronunció al leproso: "Sí quiero: Sana!" Pero despues también requiere que vayamos al sacerdote y luego participemos en su ofrenda. "Dichoso aquel que ha sido absuelto de su cupla y su pecado."

Feb 7, 2015

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Job describes how life is often experienced. It’s a struggle and like a battle. There are victories but they are fleeting. There are empty months and sleepless nights. It’s quite difficult. And when we give it thought, it can seem like we go to sleep not knowing if we will have another day, only to wake up knowing that this day may be filled with sorrows just like the day before it. There are natural joys and beauty all around us but these, too, pass. Not one of the natural delights or any of the beauty of the world can actually satisfy the longing of the human heart. While we may be sorrowful about the eventual ending of this life, we long for something more than what this life can bring us.

Jesus in the Gospel is answering Job’s longing and our longing. He comes preaching and spreading the good news: to the poor he proclaimed the good news of salvation, to prisoners, freedom, and to the sorrowful of heart, joy. He looks upon our illness with mercy. He triumphs over our battle with evil and sin. More than these things, which are signs of his mercy and love, he gives us himself. Jesus gives us his Body and Blood under the signs of bread and wine so that he can apply the power of his death to free us from our sins and so that we might rise with him to eternal life, be taken up with him into the life of the Trinity in his Ascension and share in his glory forever.

This is the good news: God does care. There is something more than this life. Through the gift of his Holy Spirit we can triumph in Jesus. And the news about how much God loves us is so good, that like Paul, we must share it with everyone. We become all things to all, servants of everyone we meet so that they, too, can share in the joy of knowing Jesus. It is an urgent necessity to do everything that we do for the sake of the gospel in order that we might be made sharers in the good news of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  

Jan 25, 2015

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

The word of the Lord came to the prophet Jonah to go and preach repentance to the people of Nineveh. But Jonah fled from the face of the Lord. Eventually he does go to Nineveh, bringing the word of the Lord to the city. The people respond to the Lord’s message and the Lord saw by their actions how they turned from their evil.

Jesus went to Galilee proclaiming the gospel: “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” At the sea of Galilee he sees Simon and Andrew and says to them, “Come after me.” Then he sees James and John and he called to them.

The Lord sees us. When he looks at us, if we receive his loving gaze, then he is able to change our lives. What made the people of Nineveh repent and hear the message that God sent them? The Lord looked upon them. We can try to hide from his gaze but the story of Jonah tells us that is impossible. Simon and Andrew abandon their nets. James and John leave their father in the boat. Unlike Jonah, they immediately respond to the call of the Lord; to the experience of being looked upon by Jesus. Yet, we know that their time with Jesus, in his mission of preaching and healing, is still a difficult one for them. Often they seem not to understand what Jesus is trying to tell them. They bicker and fight among themselves. All of them abandon him on the night when he is arrested in Gethsemane.

This should give us some hope. If we have fled from the Lord like Jonah, we also know that he is relentless in his pursuit of us. If we have given ourselves over to habitual sins even as dark as the wickedness of Nineveh, the Lord does not abandon us but seeks our return to him. If we have said yes to the Lord and left our lives to follow him but often find ourselves not understanding what the Lord wants from us, or find ourselves growing apart from him, we know that he is able to restore us to himself.  He restored Jonah to himself, he restored Nineveh to himself, and he restores the Apostles to himself in the Upper Room after the Resurrection.

If we are willing to open our hearts and our lives to him and let him see us as we really are he can restore us to himself and he can restore us to ourselves. We all have things we keep hidden, past deeds, thoughts, emotions that we try to keep from the sight of others. But we should have no fear of showing these things to the Lord. We cannot hide them from him anyway. St. Augustine says in his Confessions that God is “more intimate to me than I am to myself.”

The cause of the response of Simon, Andrew, James and John is the piercing intimacy of the gaze of Jesus. We all want to be known. We all want to be really seen. When we let the Lord look at us, even at our sins and wounds, the light of his gaze begins the healing process. If we can receive this our hearts will open to two possibilities.

First, because the Lord sees, knows and loves me, even with the difficulties and messiness of my life, I need not avert my eyes from his glory in shame. In fact, he invites me to “Come after him,” to look back at him and see how much he loves me, to allow his gaze to pierce my heart.

Second when I can receive this about myself, I also make the discovery that this is true for others. The intimate relationship I have with the Lord spills over into my relationships with others. Then when I see the other, it becomes possible to look at them through the eyes of the Lord.

* * *
La palabra del Señor vino al profeta Jonás: vaya y predica el arrepentimiento al pueblo de Nínive. Pero Jonás huyó de la presencia del Señor. Al final va a Nínive y lleva la palabra del Señor a la ciudad. La gente responde al mensaje del Señor y el Señor ve sus obras y cómo se convierten de su mala vida.

Jesús fue a Galilea para predicar el evangelio: "El reino de Dios está cerca. Arrepiéntanse y crean en el evangelio." En el mar de Galilea él ve a Simón y a Andrés, y les dice:" Síganme ". Entonces él ve a Santiago y a Juan, y los llama.

El Señor nos ve. Cuando él nos mira, si recibimos su mirada amorosa, entonces él es capaz de cambiar nuestras vidas. ¿Por qué los hombres de Nínive se arrepintieron y porque escucharon el mensaje de Dios? Porque el Señor miró sobre ellos. Podemos tratar de esconderse de su mirada, pero la historia de Jonás nos dice que es imposible. Simón y Andrés dejaron sus redes - inmediatamente. Santiago y Juan dejaron a su padre en el barco. A diferencia de Jonás, respondieron inmediatamente a la llamada del Señor. Porque ellos experimentaron la mirada de Jesús. Pero sus vidas aun con Jesús en su misión de predicar y sanar a los enfermos era todavía difícil. A menudo no parecieron entender lo que Jesús estaba tratando de decirles. Discutieron y pelearon entre símismos. Todos lo abandonaron en la noche, cuando él fue detenido en Getsemaní.

Esto nos da esperanza. Si hemos huido del Señor como Jonás, también sabemos que él es persistente en su búsqueda de nosotros. Si tenemos pecados habituales, incluso si son tan oscuros como la maldad de Nínive, el Señor no nos abandona, mas bien, él espera nuestro regreso. Hemos dicho sí al Señor y dejado nuestras vidas a seguirlo, pero a menudo no entendemos lo que el Señor quiere de nosotros, o comenzamos a alejarnos de él, sabemos que él es capaz de restaurarnos a sí mismo. Él restauró Jonás a sí mismo, él restauró Nínive a sí mismo, y restauró los Apóstoles a sí mismo en el Cenáculo después de la Resurrección.

Si estamos dispuestos a abrir nuestros corazones y nuestras vidas a él y permitirle vernos como de verdad somos, él puede restaurarnos a sí mismo y él puede restaurarnos a nosotros mismos. Todos tenemos cosas que ocultamos a los demás: las acciones pasadas, pensamientos, emociones. Pero no debemos tener miedo de mostrar estas cosas al Señor. De todos modos, no es posible ocultarlos de él. San Agustín dice en sus Confesiones que Dios es "más íntimo a mí que yo a mí mismo."

La respuesta de Simón, Andrés, Santiago y Juan es causada por la penetración intimida de la mirada de Jesús. Todos queremos ser conocidos. Queremos que todos nos reconozcan y nos vean. Cuando permitimos que el Señor nos mira, incluso a nuestros pecados y heridas, la luz de su mirada comienza el proceso de sanación. Si somos capaces de recibir esto nuestros corazones se abrirán a dos posibilidades.

Primero porque el Señor me ve, me conoce y me ama, incluso con mis dificultades y el desorden de mi vida, yo no necesito voltear  mis ojos de su gloria en vergüenza. De hecho, él me invita a "venir después de él," para mirar a él y ver cuánto me ama, y permitir que su mirada penetra mi corazón.

Segundo cuando puedo recibir este sobre mí, yo también descubro que esto es cierto para los demás. La íntima relación que tengo con el Señor derrama en mis relaciones con los demás. Entonces cuando veo al otro, se hace posible mirarlo a través de los ojos del Señor.

Jan 12, 2015

Baptism of the Lord, Year B

At first glance, it may seem odd that we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus. Jesus didn’t need baptism, right? Baptism washes away original sin, restores us in relationship to God and gives us sanctifying grace. Sanctifying grace makes us holy and pleasing to God. But Jesus is already holy and pleasing to God, so why is this an important event in the Gospels? To begin to reflect on that, we need to return to the story of Israel.

When Moses led the people out of Egypt, they were heading towards the promised land. Because of their sin of idolatry at Mt. Sinai, they had to wander in the desert for forty years. In fact, it is not Moses who leads them into the promised land but he dies without ever setting foot in it. It is Joshua who leads the people into the promised land. Joshua. Because of the way that foreign names get translated we lose the connection between the name of Joshua and the name Jesus. The Hebrew names are the same Yeshua. I won’t go into the philological reasons for how Yeshua becomes Joshua in one case and Jesus in another. The important thing is to know that Jesus is the new Joshua. He is going to lead the people back into the promised land.

John the Baptist is the son of Zechariah, a priest who was serving at the altar of incense at the Temple when the angel came to tell him that he would finally have a son. We are so used to the story of John the Baptist that we don’t find it quite so odd that he is out at the river Jordan wearing camel hair and eating wild honey and locusts. Well, maybe we find it odd but we rarely think, “Wait. That’s not right. Shouldn’t John also be a priest serving in the Temple like his father?” In fact, he is at the River Jordan, which Joshua led the people across, calling people out of the promised land to repent. And Jesus goes out to John to fulfill in his own person the mission of Israel. Not because he needs to repent but because we do. Not because he needs to be sanctified, but because we do. After his baptism he goes out into the desert for forty days in exile from the promised land. He undergoes temptations and triumphs over them, so that we may know that he can triumph over our exile from friendship with God. He can triumph over our temptations. He leads us to the waters that cleanse us of sin. And he doesn’t just ask some odd ceremony from us but he undergoes it himself. In our case the waters of baptism sanctify us. In his case, he sanctifies the waters.

Yet we still have times of exile. We still experience the struggle of temptation and we discover our weaknesses in our sins. Well, he isn’t finished leading us yet. We have to keep following him. We need to follow him into the desert so he can teach us to triumph over ourselves and our enemies by relying solely on God. But where is he leading us? Heaven, of course. Paradise restored. We only have glimpses of what that looks like. But the path that Jesus walked didn’t go immediately from the Baptism to the Resurrection and Ascension. No, the path to Resurrection and living in the presence of God in eternal happiness is reached only through the Cross. From the Cross, when the soldier pierced the Sacred Heart of our Lord, there flowed out water and blood. Jesus took the waters of baptism in his heart throughout his ministry of preaching and healing. The waters he sanctified were there at the Last Supper, in the Garden of Gethsemane, at his trial, mockery, scourging and finally at his crucifxion. From the Cross he gives us back these sanctifying waters so that we, too, might be sanctified. We are invited to share the waters of Baptism because we are invited to share the Lord’s Death.

Dietrich Bonheoffer, a German Lutheran pastor who eventually gave his life because of his resistance against the Nazis, says that “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” This is starkly different than the perception we sometimes have for Christianity. God wants you to be healthy, wealthy and wise some television preachers will say. Theirs is a gospel of superficial forgiveness; of love without depth; of discipleship without suffering – it is cheap grace. We like to remember that God loves us just the way we are; that we really are his beloved children. And rightly so. But we must also remember that this One, upon whom the Holy Spirit descended and about whom the voice said “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased,” is the same one whom the Father permitted to be sacrificed in a most cruel manner.

Our baptism does make us children of God and disciples of the Lord. It is given to us by him. Without it the Christian life isn’t possible. What the Lord asks of us is a difficult thing, though his assistance by grace can make even the gravest of sufferings, even death, a happy thing or at least a very lovely thing because it also makes possible the Resurrection. We humans generally do not like the idea of difficult things, we certainly do not relish the idea of dying, whether that be the real physical death we will all undergo or the daily dying to self that is required of us as disciples of the Lord. But what is it that we take part in here? When we offer this holy sacrifice to the Father for the salvation of the whole world, are we not taking part in the Death of his most beloved Son?

St Paul says in the Second letter to the Corinthinians: “We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but no abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” (2 Cor 4:6-11).  We proclaim the Death of the Lord at every Holy Mass. Don’t we say immediately following the double consecration: “We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection until you come again.”? Participation in his death by virtue of our baptism and this holy sacrifice requires us to repent, to confess, and follow Him who went before us to die so that we might live.

I will give the last word to Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession...Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the Cross, grace without Jesus Christ; living and incarnate.”