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.”

Epiphany 2015

The word "epiphany" comes from the Greek words "epi" and "phanein." Epi means upon and phanein means to show or manifest. Epiphany is, literally, to show forth or shine upon/forth. The Feast of the Epiphany is usually associated with the Magi. Historically it was utilized also for remembering the birth of Jesus, the coming of the Magi, the baptism by John in the river Jordan (and still today in the Armenian Rite the Birth of Jesus is celebrated on January 6). All these events, and others, are manifestations of the hidden God.

God desired Israel to be a people set apart for himself. God decided to show all the nations who he is through the fidelity of Israel. When Moses gave the laws to the people, he said to them: " You know that I have taught you statutes and justices, as the Lord my God has commanded me: so shall you do them in the land which you shall possess: And you shall observe, and fulfill them in practice. For this is your wisdom, and understanding in the sight of nations, that hearing all these precepts, they may say: Behold a wise and understanding people, a great nation. Neither is there any other nation so great, that has gods so near them, as our God is present to all our petitions." (Dt. 4:5-7)

God reveals himself in his commandments and teachings. Israel had good reason to praise God for having revealed these things to them. Who would have known the truth without any error unless God taught them? However, although this shows a special relationship with Israel and the greatness of God, we should not forget that an additional purpose is so that the nations might be able to hear it and to see it lived in the people that God has chosen. Isaiah the prophet reminds Israel of this truth. If Jerusalem shines with light, it is so that the nations, also, will walk by the light. In the end, it is Jesus who will fulfill the whole mission of Israel in his own person. Rejoice if you have seen the light, but remember that the light is given to you so that other might see.

Jesus, after he begins preaching in Israel, will go to a mountain and will teach the people. Like Moses, he clarifies the commandments and ordinances of the Lord. The Sermon on the Mount begins in chapter five and continues until chapter seven verse twenty nine. This whole section is the Sermon on the Mount. There is much more here than just the Beatitudes. In chapter five verse fourteen through sixteen, he says: "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Like Moses, Jesus teaches and instructs the people according to the will of the Father. Like Isaiah, he reminds them that the fidelity of the people will be a light for the nations so that the nations might glorify God.

Jesus is already doing this as a child in Bethlehem. He brings these wise men to himself so that the nations also are able to give glory to God. When King Herod hears this he calls the high priests and the scribes of the people and asks them where the Messiah must be born. Observe that the men from a far-away nation have been following the signs and come seeking the king who would be born. However, those in authority in Israel only remember when they are told by foreigners! How is it that the foreigners recognize the light which the people have ignored?

This is what the Feast of the Epiphany reminds us. The treasure and manifestation of Christ in Bethlehem comes with a obligation for our lives. In the Catholic Church the hidden God is revealed. He reveals himself in the Gospels and the Sacred Scriptures. He reveals himself in the mysteries that we celebrate in the sacraments. He reveals himself in the doctrines of faith and morals which are taught by the Catholic Church. But if we are not living in accordance with the Gospels, Sacraments and Doctrines, how will anyone be able to receive his light through us? When others hear about us and our lives, how often do they hear how we do not agree with everything that the Church teaches? When they see our lives, how often do the see a lifestyle that is contrary to the teachings of the Church? Contraception, divorce and remarriage, abortion, ordination of women, the liturgy, immigration, our obligation to the poor – these are only some of the things in which we are able to see a general denial  of the truths taught by the Catholic Church.

When we were baptized, we received a candle and it was said to us: “Receive the light of Christ.” Each Easter we light the Paschal Candle and the Deacon sings “The Light of Christ!” And we respond: “Thanks be to God!” Beware, brother and sisters. There is another star, another bearer of light, who was called Lucifer, but is now named Satan, who seeks to hide, with the darkness of sin, the light of the faith in our hearts. He dazzles the world with deceptions; blinds our intellects with false knowledge. Like Herod, we may find ourselves set against the True Light of the world and even trying to extinguish it in others. We must seek Christ and him alone. We must be faithful in all things, just as he instructed us through his Holy Church. And when we find him, we must open the treasures of our hearts to him, prostrate ourselves before him, and adore him. And we must go by another way than the one the world would have us go.

* * *

Epifanía viene del griego koiné “epi” y “phanein”. Epi significa sobre. Phanein significa mostrar o manifestar. Epifanía es, literalmente, para manifestar o brillar sobre. La fiesta de la Epifanía, generalmente asociada a los Reyes Magos, históricamente fue utilizada también para conmemorar el nacimiento de Jesús, la llegada de los Magos y el bautismo por Juan en el río Jordán (y todavía en la Iglesia armenia se celebra la Navidad el seis de enero). Todos estos eventos, y otros, son manifestaciones del Dios escondido.

Dios quería que Israel fuera un pueblo separado para sí mismo. Dios decidió mostrar a todas las naciones quien es él a través de la fidelidad de Israel. Cuando Moisés dio las leyes a la gente, les dice: "Cumplan los mandamientos del Señor que yo les enseño, como me ordena el Señor, mi Dios. Guárdenlos y cúmplanlos porque ellos son la sabiduría y prudencia de ustedes a los ojos de los pueblos. Cuando tengan noticias de todos estos preceptos, los pueblos se dirán: En verdad esta gran nación es un pueblo sabio y prudente. Porque, ¿cuál otra nación hay tan grande que tenga dioses tan cercanos como lo está nuestro Dios, siempre lo invocamos?" En el Salmo ciento cuarenta y siete leemos: "Declara su palabra a Jacob, y sus estatutos y sus ordenanzas a Israel. No ha hecho así con ninguna otra nación; y en cuanto a sus ordenanzas, no las han conocido."

Dios se revela en sus mandamientos y enseñanzas. Israel tenía razón para alabar a Dios por haber revelado estas cosas a ellos. Quién hubiera sabido la verdad sin ningún error a menos que Dios les enseña? Sin embargo, a pesar de que se muestra la relación especial de Israel y la grandeza de Dios, no debe olvidarse que un propósito adicional es para que las naciones puedan oírlo y ver que vivía en el pueblo que Dios habia escogido. Isaías el profeta recuerda a Israel de esa verdad. Si Jerusalén brilla con luz, es para que las naciones, también, caminarán por la luz. Alégrate si has visto la luz, pero recuerda que la luz se te da para que otros puedan ver. Jesús cumple toda la misión de Israel en su persona.

Jesús, después que comienza a predicar en Israel, irá a una montaña y le enseñará a la gente. Como Moisés, deja en claro los mandamientos y órdenes del Señor. El Sermón de la Montaña comienza en el capítulo cinco y continúa hasta el capítulo siete versículo veintinueve. Toda esta sección es el Sermón de la Montaña. Hay mucho más que sólo las Bienaventuranzas. En el capítulo cinco verso catorce al dieciséis, él dice: "Ustedes son la luz del mundo. No se puede ocultar una ciudad construida en lo alto de un monte; y cuando se enciende una vela, no se esconde debajo de una olla, sino que se pone sobre un candelero, para que alumbre a todos los de la casa. Que de igual manera brille la luz de ustedes ante los hombres, para que viendo las buenas obras que ustedes hacen, den gloria a su Padre, que está en los cielos.” Al igual que Moisés, Jesús enseña e instruye al pueblo de acuerdo a la voluntad del Padre. Como Isaías, les recuerda que la fidelidad del pueblo será una luz para las naciones, para que las naciones glorifiquen a Dios.

Jesús ya estaba haciendo esto como un niño en Belén. Él llevó a estos hombres sabios a sí mismo para que las naciones también pudieran dar gloria a Dios. Al enterarse de esto, el rey Herodes ... convocó a los sumos sacerdotes y a los escribas del pueblo y les preguntó dónde tenía que nacer el Mesías. Observen que son los hombres de una nación lejana que han estado siguiendo los signos y vienen buscando al rey que había de nacer. Sin embargo, los que tienen autoridad en Israel sólo recuerdan cuando se les dice por los extranjeros! ¿Cómo es que los extranjeros reconocen la luz que la gente ha ignorado?

Esto es lo que la fiesta de la Epifanía nos recuerda. El tesoro y la manifestación de Cristo en Belén que viene con una obligación para nuestras vidas. En la Iglesia Católica el Dios escondido se revela. Él se revela en los Evangelios y en las Sagradas Escrituras. Él se revela en los Misterios que celebramos en los sacramentos. Él se revela en las doctrinas de la fe y morales que se enseñan por la Iglesia Católica. Pero si no estamos viviendo de acuerdo con los Evangelios, los Sacramentos y doctrinas, ¿cómo puede alguien más recibir su luz a través de nosotros? Cuando escuchan de nosotros y de nuestras vidas, ¿con qué frecuencia oyen cómo no estamos de acuerdo con todo lo que la Iglesia enseña? Cuando ven a nuestras vidas, ¿con qué frecuencia ven a un estilo de vida que es contrario a las enseñanzas de la Iglesia? Contracepción, el divorcio y el nuevo matrimonio, el aborto, la ordenación de las mujeres, la liturgia, la inmigración, la ayuda a los pobres - estos sólo son algunos de los temas en los que vemos la negación generalizada de las verdades enseñadas por la Iglesia Católica.

Cuando fuimos bautizados recibimos una vela y nos dijeron: "Recibe la luz de Cristo." Cada Pascua encendemos el cirio pascual y el diácono canta "La luz de Cristo!" Y nosotros respondemos: "Demos gracias a Dios. "Cuidado, hermanos y hermanas. Hay otra estrella, otro portador de la luz, que se llamaba Lucifer, pero que ahora se llama Satanás, que busca ocultar con la oscuridad del pecado a la luz de la fe en nuestros corazones. Él deslumbra al mundo con enganas, ciega nuestros intelectos con conocimiento falso. Al igual que Herodes, podemos encontrarnos contra la verdadera luz del mundo y tratando de extinguirla en otros. Debemos buscar a Cristo y solo él. Debemos ser fieles en todas las cosas, como él nos instruyó a través de su Santa Iglesia. Y cuando lo encontremos, debemos abrir los tesoros de nuestro corazón a él, postrarnos ante él y adorarlo. Y tenemos que ir por un camino diferente al que el mundo quisiera que fuéramos.


Jan 1, 2015

Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God.

Today is the octave of Christmas. The liturgical calendar of the Church views these days as an extension of the Feast of Christmas. Each day we have recited the Gloria and today we also will recite the Creed. What began with an emphasis on the Nativity of our Lord ends by calling our attention to the Maternity of Mary. The first and the greatest of the titles of Mary is "Mother of God." Yes, the Immaculate Conception comes chronologically before her Maternity but it happens because of and due to her Maternity.

And yet, we need to ask ourselves what it is that we mean when we call the Blessed Virgin "Mother of God." Is Mary the source of the divinity of Jesus? No. No more than our own mothers are the source of our immortal and spiritual souls. But I do not say about my mother that she is only the mother of my body. "Hello, mother of my body," would sound ridiculous. She is the mother of me, even though is was God who made my soul from nothing. In a similar way, Mary is the Mother of Jesus, although she is neither the source of his divinity nor of his human soul. We do not simply call Mary the Mother of his Body. Although, by this alone, she still would be the most magnificent mother in the whole world.

Mothers give birth to persons. And Jesus is a person. This Child to whom Mary gives birth is a Divine Person with a Divine Nature and a human nature. Mary is the Mother of a Divine Person, even though he existed in his Divinity before her, in fact, has always existed. Again, we do not say "Mother of the Human Nature." Natures do not need a mother, but persons do. Jesus is God. Mary is the Mother of Jesus. Therefore, she is appropriately called "the Mother of God."

When we call Mary "Mother of God," we are not only recalling the greatness of her vocation, but we are also proclaiming the Gospel. This Child, to whom Mary gives birth, es at the same time God and man. In the womb of Mary, God fashioned for himself human flesh, in order that, united in his Most Adorable Divine Person, he might make possible for us participation in his Divine Life. All this we say when we call Mary "Mother of God."

Mary gave birth to the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity. Mary gave birth to God, who became man. Mary gave birth to the Light of the World. And when the darkness came in the form of death on the Cross, the Light of the World, knowing that he was going to crush the darkness of death by the light of the glory of his resurrection, he gave to us his Mother. He did this so that the faith might be born in us. From the womb of Mary was born the Light of the World, in the heart of Mary, we are born in faith. From Him we have received a Mother, from her we have received the Son.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.

* * *

Solemnidad de Santa Maria, Madre de Dios

Hoy es la octava de Navidad. El calendario litúrgico de la Iglesia ve en estos días una extensión de la fiesta de Navidad. Cada día hemos recitado el Gloria, y hoy también recitamos el Credo. Lo que comenzó con un énfasis en la Natividad de nuestro Señor termina llamando nuestra atención sobre la maternidad de María. El primero y el más grande de todos los títulos de María es "Madre de Dios". Sí, la Inmaculada Concepción viene cronológicamente antes de su Maternidad pero sucede a causa de y debido a su maternidad.

Sin embargo, tenemos que preguntarnos qué queremos decir cuando llamamos a la Santísima Virgen "Madre de Dios". ¿Es María la fuente de la divinidad de Jesús? No. No más que nuestras propias madres son la fuente de nuestras almas inmortales y espirituales. Pero no lo digo acerca de mi propia madre que ella es sólo la madre de mi cuerpo. "Hola, madre de mi cuerpo", sonaría ridículo. Ella es mí madre, a pesar de que fue Dios quien hizo mi alma de la nada. De manera similar, María es la Madre de Jesús, aunque ella ni es la fuente de su divinidad ni de su alma humana. No llamamos a María simplemente la Madre de su cuerpo. Aunque esto por sí solo la haría la más magnífica madre en todo el mundo.

Las madres dan a luz a las personas. Y Jesús es una persona. Porque el Niño, a quien María dio a luz, es una persona divina con una naturaleza divina y una naturaleza humana, María es la Madre de la persona divina, a pesar de que en su divinidad existía antes que ella, de hecho, ha existido siempre. Una vez más, no decimos Madre de la Naturaleza Humana. Las naturalezas no necesitan de una madre, sino más bien personas. Jesús es Dios. María es la Madre de Jesús. Por lo tanto, ella se llama apropiadamente "La Madre de Dios."

Cuando llamamos a María "Madre de Dios" estamos recordando no sólo la grandeza de su vocación, pero también estamos proclamando el Evangelio. Este niño, a quien María dio a luz, es al mismo tiempo Dios y hombre. En el vientre de María, Dios formó carne humana para sí mismo para que, unidos en su Adorablissima Persona Divina, pudiera hacer para nosotros la participación en su vida divina. Todo esto lo decimos cuando llamamos a María "Madre de Dios".

María dio a luz a la Segunda Persona de la Santísima Trinidad. María dio a luz a Dios, que es también hombre. María dio a luz a la Luz del mundo. Y cuando la oscuridad llegó en la forma de la muerte en la Cruz, la Luz del Mundo, sabiendo que iba a aplastar a la oscuridad de la muerte con la luz de la gloria de su Resurrección, nos dio a su madre. Lo hizo para que así en nosotros naciera la fe. Desde el vientre de María nació la luz del mundo, en el corazón de María, nacemos en la fe. Ella dio a luz a nuestro Salvador en Belén, ella dio a luz a nosotros en el Calvario. De Jesucristo hemos recibido una madre, de ella hemos recibido al Hijo.

Santa Maria, Madre de Dios, ruega por nosotros.

Dec 29, 2014

Holy Family, Year B

This past week we celebrated Christmas, today we celebrate the Holy Family. At Christmas the attention is placed upon the birth of Jesus. And Jesus was born into a family. By this fact, we are able to see the value that God places upon the family and his desire to sanctify it. The Holy Family is the example of what families should be. The Holy Family is also the exemplar. In philosophy, there is a distinction made between an example and an exemplar. An example is a template with which we can measure other things. An exemplar is the formal cause in which particular examples participate. As an example, the Holy Family shows us what the family should look like. And if we measure our families by this example, we learn not only what our family lacks, but also we see the greatness of what a family is. As an exemplar, the mystery of the Holy Family becomes the source from which all families draw the graces necessary to be sanctified. And so, the Holy Family is, at the same time, an example of what the family ought to be and the fount of graces which are necessary for its sanctification.

Our first reading gives us an understanding of the graces which flow from familial relations when they are properly ordered. God places the father in honor over his children, and the mother has authority over them. God did this also with Jesus. The one who honors his father cleanses himself from sins and preserves himself from them. His prayers are heard, he brings comfort to his mother, he is blessed with joy in his own children - and the Lord will not forget him. Now, in the Holy Family we have St. Joseph, the just man, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, who was immaculately conceived, and Jesus, who is God. How can our families even begin to measure up to this example? St. Paul gives us a description of what it looks like to live according to this example. "Heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness." "And above all these virtues, have love, which is the bond of perfection." The first list is brought to completion in this last element: love. The family needs love more than anything else.

Perhaps the Holy Family knows nothing about our problems. All the graces, and special graces, make the Holy Family different than the normal family. This is true, for our families are stained with sin in each member - parents and children alike. But the Holy Family does know our difficulties. The Holy Family had to flee from their own country. They became strangers in a foreign land. Tradition tells us the St. Joseph was a carpenter. He taught his trade to Jesus. And so they know what it is like to work hard with their hands. The Holy Family understands poverty, also. Tradition also tells us the St. Joseph died very early, at least before the public ministry of Jesus. And so Jesus understands what it is like to lose a parent. Mary understands what it is like to be a widow. Jesus knows how it feels to see his mother suffer, when she was standing at the foot of his Cross. Mary knows how it feels to lose a son, including watching him die at the hands of cruel soldiers. The members of the Holy Family were not the cause of sins, but the were not exempt from the effect of sin in their lives. Because of the grace and holiness of this family, they feel the corruption and ugliness of sin more profoundly than we do.

The Holy Family was not excluded from the difficulties of life. The understand our problems. But they had above all, love, the bond of perfection, which triumphs over every difficulty. And God wants us to participate in the Mystery of the Holy Family so that our own families may be sanctified. "When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem us, who were under the law, in order that we might receive the adoption of sons." "And, therefore, you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, as many as have been incorporated to Christ by baptism, you have put on Christ ... And if you belong to Christ, you also are descendants of Abraham and the inheritance that God promised him, belongs to you." If we are sons in the only-begotten Son, then we belong also to the Holy Family. May we draw forth from the Mystery of the life of Jesus with the Holy Family, all the graces necessary to heal and sanctify our own family.

* * *
La semana pasada hemos celebrado la Navidad, hoy celebramos la Sagrada Familia. La atención en la Navidad es el nacimiento de Jesús. Jesús nació en una familia. Por este hecho, vemos el valor que Dios pone sobre la familia y su deseo para santificarla. La Sagrada Familia es el ejemplo de lo que las familias están destinados a ser. La Sagrada Familia es también el ejemplar. In philosophia hay diferencia entre el ejemplo y el ejemplar. Un ejemplo es una plantilla con el que medir otra cosas. Un ejemplar es la causa formal en el que ejemplos particulares participan. A modo de ejemplo, la Sagrada Familia nos muestra la que la familia está destinado a ser. Y si medimos nuestras propias familias por este ejemplo, aprendemos no sólo que falta a nuestra familia, pero también la grandeza de la familia. Como un ejemplar, el misterio de la Sagrada Familia se convierte en la fuente de la que todas las familias dibujan las gracias necesarias para ser santificadas. Así que la Sagrada Familia es al mismo tiempo un ejemplo de lo que debe ser una familia y la fuente de las gracias necesarias para ser santificada.

Nuestra primera lectura nos da una comprensión de las gracias que fluyen de las relaciones familiares adecuadamente ordenadas. Dios pone el padre en honor sobre sus hijos y la madre tienen autoridad sobre sus hijos. Él hizo esto con Jesús, también. El que honra a su padre se limpia de pecados y preserva a sí mismo de ellos. Sus oraciones son escuchadas, trae consuelo a su madre, él es bendecido con alegría en sus propios hijos - y el Señor no lo olvidará. Aún así, en la Sagrada Familia que tenemos a José, el hombre justo, la Santísima Virgen María, la Madre inmaculadamente concebido de Dios, y Jesús, que es Dios. ¿Cómo pueden nuestras familias comienzan a medir hasta este ejemplo? San Pablo nos da una descripción de cómo se ve a vivir según este ejemplo. "Sean compasivos, magnánimos, humildes, afables y pacientes. Sopórtense mutuamente y perdónense cuando tengan quejas contra otro, como el Señor los ha perdonado a ustedes". "Y sobre todas estas virtudes, tengan amor , que es el vínculo de la perfecta unión." La lista anterior se llevó a término en este último elemento: el amor. La familia necesita el amor sobre todas las cosas.

Tal vez la Sagrada Familia no sabe nada de nuestros problemas. Todas las gracias, y también gracias especiales, hacen la Sagrada Familia diferente de la familia normal. Esto es cierto, en la medida en que nuestras familias están manchadas con el pecado en cada miembro de la familia - padres y niños por igual. Pero la Sagrada Familia conoce nuestras dificultades. La Sagrada Familia tuvo que huir de su país. Ellos se convirtió en extraños en una tierra extranjera.. La tradición nos dice que San José era carpintero. San José enseñó a Jesús. Ellos sabían cómo trabajar duro con sus manos. La Sagrada Familia conoció la pobreza, también. La tradición nos dice que José murió bastante temprano, al menos antes de que el ministerio público de Jesús. Así que Jesús sabe lo que es perder a un padre. María entiende lo que significa ser una viuda. Jesús sabe lo que se siente al ver a su madre sufre, ya que ella estaba al pie de la Cruz. María sabe lo que se siente al perder a su hijo, incluso a verlo morir a manos de soldados crueles. Los miembros de la Sagrada Familia no fueron la causa de los pecados, pero no estaban exentos de los efectos del pecado en sus vidas. A causa de la gracia y de la santidad de la esta familia, sentían la corrupción y la fealdad del pecado más profundamente que nosotros.

La sagrada familia no está excluida de las dificultades de la vida. Ellos comprenden nuestros problemas. Pero ellos tienen sobre todo, el amor, el vínculo de la perfección, que triunfa sobre todas las dificultades. Y Dios nos quiere participar en el misterio de la Sagrada Familia a fin de que nuestras familias puedan ser santificados. "Al llegar la plenitud de los tiempos, envió Dios a su Hijo, nacido de una mujer, nacido bajo la ley, para rescatar a los que estábamos bajo la ley, a fin de hacernos hijos suyos." (Gal 4 : 4-5) "Así pues, todos ustedes son hijos de Dios por la fe in Cristo Jesús, pues, cuantos han sido incorporados a Cristo por medio del bautismo, se han revistido de Cristo. ... Y si ustedes son de Cristo, son también descendientes de Abraham y la herencia que Dios le prometió les corresponde a ustedes." Y si somos hijos en el Hijo unigénito nosotros pertenecemos también a su Sagrada Familia. Dibujemos desde el misterio de la vida de Jesús con la Sagrada Familia todas las gracias necesarias para sanar y santificar nuestra propria familia.

Dec 25, 2014

The Nativity of the Lord MMXIV

Merry Christmas! A Child is born for us! There are many reasons to rejoice today. Most of us will spend time with family. Most of us will have presents to give and presents to open. Christmas is finally here. To rejoice in Christmas we should look at two things that we find in the name of this solemnity: Christ and Mass. Christmas is the Mass of Christ. We hear the slogan today to keep Christ in Christmas. The world has turned Christmas into something else than the celebration of the birth of our Savior. It is has forgotten that Christ is the reason we have this celebration at all. But it has equally forgotten to keep the Mass in Christmas.

Why is it important to keep Christ in Christmas? Christmas is about a Person and not just an event or a season. The invisible God is made manifest in visible flesh. Divinity is united to creation, not by intention, or will or power or from afar, but by the Person of the Eternal Word, in reality and nearness. God becomes one of us. Our society has forgotten this truth. Even when it is said, the world does not understand the meaning of it. This Child of Mary is God in the flesh. God is revealed to us in him. The world passes by this reality without a second thought. But this makes this Christmas much like the very first Christmas. How many were there in that time that would have recognized the Creator of the world when they looked upon this babe in a manger? The angels proclaimed him, shepherds adored him. But most of the world, on that night, just like tonight, will go about doing whatever it is that they normally do. For untold millions, this night is no different than any other. God has come into their midst, and hardly anyone knows. It is by the gift of faith that we share in the grace of so great a mystery.

God has taken up our frailty to himself. A dignity beyond anything else in the whole of creation is bestowed upon our frail humanity. God did not come as an angel but as a human. The gift he give to us is to know that what we are he became – out of his ineffable love for us, he lowers himself to share in our state. He gives to humanity his own Divinity. The prayers of the Church call this a holy exchange. What is it that we give to him? He takes from us mortal flesh. The God who is impassible becomes passible, that is, he fashions for himself the means by which the Crucifixion becomes a possibility. In return for the grace of sharing in his divinity, he asks only to share in our frailty and mortality. O holy exchange! A birth destined for a death – and resurrection. Keeping Christ in Christmas means remembering the reason for which Jesus was born. Christmas is something more than sentimentality, though there should be affection and tenderness when we put before our minds and hearts the scene of our Savior being born into the world. In Christmas the beginning of our redemption is made manifest. Jesus was born for the Cross, for his burial in the tomb, his resurrection from the dead and his glorious ascension into heaven. His flesh is our salvation. His human flesh and human soul are at the right hand of God in glory. Since he has a human nature like ours and his sacred humanity is in heaven, heaven becomes a possibility for each of us. We are invited to be born again in Christ and so to share eternal blessedness with him in heaven. Such a gift merits more than just this day. It deserves more than just sentiment.

How do we partake of the mystery of Christmas which is placed before us today through faith? By keeping the Mass in Christmas. When the deacon prepares the chalice at the altar he says, “By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.” In this liturgical rite the Mystery of the Nativity is referenced in signs. The wine symbolizes the fullness of the gift of his divinity to us. The water, just a drop, symbolizes our humanity. At the consecration the host becomes his Sacred Body and the wine becomes his Precious Blood. These separate consecrations sacramentally, that is, mystically make really present the death of our Lord. During the sign of peace, the priest will take a small part of the host and place it in the chalice saying, “May this mingling of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ bring eternal life to us who receive it.” This liturgical ritual symbolizes the resurrection and ascension. How do we celebrate Christmas? By offering the Paschal Mystery: the death, resurrection and ascension in worship of our heavenly Father. We stand in awe of the love of God for us and offer back to him as our thanksgiving the Body and Blood of his Son. O wondrous exchange! We are given divinity in exchange for our humanity. In this Child is already present the mysteries of our redemption. His mysteries are ours. If we wish to profit from this marvelous exchange, nothing less than our life for his life is sufficient. Not on just one day, but every day of our lives. Not just Christmas but every day of the year. We must partake of his life with our life. To keep Christmas, it is necessary to keep it with the whole person: heart, mind, soul and body.

The Eternal Son of the Father gave himself completely to us. He didn’t leave aside some portion of his life for himself but gave us the whole of himself. In order to receive this gift in full, it is necessary to return a gift in kind: the whole of ourselves. Christianity is not something that we can do only on Christmas, or Easter, or even just on Sundays. Either our whole existence is grounded in this mystery of God in the flesh, or we are just fooling ourselves with our occasional religiosity. Christianity is not something that is merely thought. “I believe” is not properly translated as “I think.” Nor is Christianity something that is merely felt. The religious experience of feeling good is not the goal. Nor is Christianity something to be done. Christianity is not exhausted by being nice, or tolerant, or by charity and generosity. Christianity is received. Christianity is something done in us and for us, for when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son made of a woman, made under the law, that he might redeem those under the law, so that we might receive the adoption of sons. Christmas is kept by holding fast to Christ and to his Mass. All that is left is for us to accept it, or at least not to refuse it. Let us receive the Christ-child in our hearts, contemplating him with Mary, and allow his mysteries to be made manifest in our own life by his grace so that we are finally able to keep Christmas. Only then will the birth of our Savior have effect in our lives and the celebration of this mystery be kept in full.

Dec 22, 2014

Fourth Sunday of Advent

To help us understand the connections between our first reading and our Gospel, we will need to know a little about the Ark of the Covenant. During the Exodus from Egypt, Moses received the 10 Commandments and other laws at Mount Sinai. Among these other laws were the directions for the construction of the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark was the special presence of God among his people Israel. From the Letter to the Hebrews, we find out that inside the Ark were several items: the tablets containing the ten commandments (the decalogue or ten words), a golden container of manna from the desert, and rod of Aaron, the high priest, which had budded. The Ark was carried before the army of Israel when Jericho fell and many other times into battle. It was later placed into the inner sanctuary of the Temple which Solomon, the son of David built, called the Holy of Holies, which the high priest entered only once a year.

David’s impulse is a good one. “Here I am living in luxury. And the Ark is kept in ordinary surroundings.” He goes to the prophet Nathan to get a blessing for his plan to build a house for God. God’s reply isn’t no, at first, but rather a question: “Should you build me a house to dwell in?” Remember, where you came from and all the things I have done for you. You’re going to build me a house? I will build you a house.

We should not rest on what we think we can do for God. The works of the Lord are great and, yes, he even does his works through us. The impulse to do something for the Lord is a good one, when it arises from sincere love and does not forget that what we do is a return, a giving back, a response for what the Lord has done for us. It is not we who do favors for the Lord, but the Lord who does favors for us. It is not we who will build a better world for God, but God who, coming into the world, saves the world and makes it new. We receive from him. We see this most clearly in our Gospel today. Mary is the model of how we Christians are meant to stand before God and receive from him. “May it be done to me according to your word.” It is the Lord who does these great things. We can dispose ourselves by faith and obedience – but do not forget that this is his grace working in us, too. There is nothing that we can do apart from him.

The Israelites built an Ark according to God’s instructions. David planned to build a Temple and his son completed it. But God built Mary. From the first moment of her existence, he kept her free from any stain of sin. The Lord builds perfectly. The precision of God’s instructions to the Israelites for the building of the Ark demonstrate the importance and holiness of his dwelling place. Likewise, the Temple is built as a sign of God’s magnificence. Everything about the arrangements speaks of the glory and holiness of God and how that is to be reflected in what is dedicated for his service and worship. In Mary’s womb we have not just the ten words, but the Eternal Word; not just a symbol of the Eucharist like manna but the Bread of Life himself; not just the high priest’s staff, but the Eternal High Priest the shoot which blossoms from the stump of Jesse. Indeed, all of God’s works are perfect. But our works are flawed, they are riddled with our incompetency and sinfulness. Eventually, through sin, the Israelites will lose the privilege of maintaining the place of the Ark, and it becomes lost to them. Also because of their sins, the Temple will be destroyed, rebuilt and again destroyed.

On the contrary, the works of the Lord are perfect in every way. They are often difficult for us to understand and we do not know the reasons for all the preparations. In the end, we discover the grandeur of God’s plans, how much better his designs are than ours. In Jesus, we have not only a place where the power and presence of God are shown to us. Jesus is God himself: True God and True Man. And although he allows his body to be ravaged by our sins, he is raised again in glory. He is never lost to us, never to be destroyed. Only our refusal to allow God to work in us keeps us from him.

We are just a few days from the solemnity of Christmas. Have we prepared to receive him during this Advent? Perhaps we have not done such a great job of joyful preparation for this feast. Perhaps we have not allowed God to work in us by his grace so that he can move us towards his perfection. All is not lost. We have these next few days to open ourselves to God’s work in us. He desires to adorn us with his graces and make his dwelling in our hearts. We become as it were, miniature arks of his covenant. Open your hearts to him. Pray a little extra. Ask for forgiveness from anyone you have harmed. Give forgiveness to anyone who has harmed you, ask God for help in letting it go. Be a bit more generous with the poor, make a gift to St. Vincent de Paul’s. Join Bishop Olmstead outside Planned Parenthood on Christmas Eve praying for the unborn, the mothers and all involved. Let God’s grace direct you these next few days. Be a little more aware of God’s presence in your life and let him prepare you, in whatever way, according to his will, to receive his Son with joy this coming Christmas.

Dec 14, 2014

Gaudete Sunday, Year B

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near.” Why on this day should we rejoice? This is the Third Sunday of Advent, also called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete means rejoice. It is the plural imperative, that is, it is a command and it is addressed to all of us. So what do we have to rejoice about?

The reading from Isaiah is fulfilled in the person of Jesus. God knows our difficulties. We are poor, brokenhearted and captive, especially because of our sins and often even because of the memory of our sins and mistakes. Just the knowledge that God sees our need is enough to lighten our hearts – we are not alone in our distress. And to hear this promise that God will save us gives us great hope because we can trust his word. And we know that not only did he keep his promise but he gave us his only begotten Son. Rejoice, again I say, rejoice! In a mere 11 days we will be keeping the Solemnity of the Birth of our Lord. He who is the source of all riches came into our poverty. The font of life gives his life to cure us of our infirmities. He heals the brokenhearted and free us from captivity. He was not satisfied to know us from afar, nor to work his wonderful deeds through others. No, he drew near to us on account of his great love.

John the Baptist was the greatest prophet ever known. Jesus says that among those born of a woman, there has arisen no one greater the John the Baptist. (Mt. 11:11; Lk 7:28) And what does John say? That he is unworthy to untie the strap of the sandal of the one who is coming after him. Jesus, the Christ, is more than a prophet. He is God in our midst. John also says to the priests and Levites of Jerusalem: “there is one among you whom you do not recognize.” And he could say the same thing today.

Advent is a time of preparation, with devout and expectant delight, to celebrate the birth of Jesus and to await his coming into the world again. But there are two other advents which are important.

He comes daily upon our altars in the appearances of bread and wine. The same sacred humanity which Mary bore in her womb, which she wrapped in swaddling clothes; the sacred humanity which hung upon the Cross for us, which was buried in the tomb and rose again on the third day and ascended into heaven, is made present right here in our midst. And yet many will not recognize him. They will see the host held aloft in adoration and see only the sign, know only the bread. “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world,” the priest will say, echoing St. John. But many will not believe. They will see the symbols only and will not look deeply with faith. For those with faith, however, there is rejoicing for, indeed, the Lord is near.

It is sometimes the case that we should not approach the altar for communion for a variety of reasons. Either we have not yet made our first communion, or we are unprepared to receive him, or our circumstances of life preclude it. Yet, all of us may look and see. We can behold God in our midst, the one whom we are preparing to rejoice over at Christmas. We can long for his coming with devout and expectant delight. And this also is cause for rejoicing. Before our eyes, though veiled in the Most Holy Sacrament, we look upon our Lord: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. His adorable Person is before us.

He not only comes daily upon our altars, he also comes daily to our souls. He stands at the door of our hearts and knocks and begs to enter. Our Divine Savior wishes to dwell with us. Us, with all of our poverty, and brokenheartedness, with our captivity and weakness, our mistakes and sins, all the messiness which is human lives. He longs to enrich our poverty, to console our broken hearts, to free us from captivity, strengthen our weakness, forgive and heal our mistakes and sins, to cleanse and purify the messiness of our lives. Rejoice, for the God who draws so near to us, does so because he loves us. Why do we rejoice? How can we not?

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“Estén siempre alegres en el Señor, les repito, estén alegres. El Señor está cerca.” ¿Por qué en este día debemos alegrarnos? Este es el tercer domingo de Adviento, también llamado Domingo de Gaudete. Gaudete significa alégrense!. Es el imperativo plural, es decir, es una orden y se dirige a todos nosotros. ¿Por qué nos alegramos?

La lectura de Isaías se cumplió en la persona de Jesús. Dios conoce nuestras dificultades. Somos pobres, quebrantados de corazón y cautivos, especialmente a causa de nuestros pecados y, a menudo, incluso por la memoria de nuestros pecados y errores. el conocimiento de que Dios la ve nuestra necesidad es suficiente para alumbrar nuestros corazones - que no estamos solos en nuestra angustia. Y al oír esta promesa que Dios salvará a nosotros nos da una gran esperanza porque podemos confiar en su palabra. Y sabemos que no sólo él cumplió su promesa, pero él nos dio a su Hijo unigénito. Alégrense, otra vez digo: ¡Alégrense! En once días vamos a celebrar la Solemnidad de la Natividad de Nuestro Señor. Aquel que es la fuente de toda riqueza entró en nuestra pobreza. La fuente de la vida da su vida para curarnos de nuestras enfermedades. Él sana a los quebrantados de corazón y nos libera del cautiverio. No estaba satisfecho a conocernos desde lejos, ni para trabajar sus maravillas a través de otros. No, él se acercó a nosotros a causa de su gran amor.

Juan el Bautista fue el profeta más grande jamás conocido. Jesús dijo, “que no ha surgido entre los hijos de una mujer ninguno más grande que Juan el Bautista”. (Mt. 11:11; Lc 07:28) ¿Y qué dijo Juan? “No soy digno de desatarle las correas de sus sandalias.” Jesucristo es más que un profeta. Él es Dios en medio de nosotros. Juan también dijo a los sacerdotes y levitas de Jerusalén: "en medio de ustedes hay uno, al que ustedes no conocen." Estas últimas palabras siguen siendo ciertas tambien en nuestro tiempo.

El Adviento es un tiempo de preparación, de alegría devoto y expectante, para celebrar el nacimiento de Jesús y esperar su venida al mundo de nuevo. Pero hay otras dos venidas que son importantes.

Él viene todos los días a nuestro altar en las especies del pan y del vino. La misma humanidad sagrada que María llevaba en su seno, que se envolvió en pañales; la humanidad sagrada que pendía de la cruz por nosotros, que fue sepultado en la tumba y resucitó al tercer día y ascendió a los cielos, se hace presente aquí en medio de nosotros. Y sin embargo, muchos no lo reconocerán. Ellos verán la hostia en alto para la adoración y ven sólo el signo, sólo conocen el pan. "Este es el Cordero de Dios, que quita el pecado del mundo," el sacerdote dirá, haciéndose eco de San Juan Bautista. Pero muchos no creen. Ellos sólo ven los símbolos y no miran profundamente con la fe. Para los que tienen fe, sin embargo, hay alegría porque, en realidad, el Señor está cerca.

A veces es el caso que no debemos acercarnos al altar para la comunión. O bien todavía no hemos hecho nuestra primera comunión, o no están preparados para recibirlo, o nuestras circunstancias de vida se oponen recepción. Sin embargo, todos nosotros podemos mirar y ver. Podemos contemplar a Dios en medio de nosotros, aquel a quien nos estamos preparando para alegrarse por la Navidad. Podemos desear para su venida con alegría devoto y expectante. Delante de nuestros ojos, aunque velado en el Santísimo Sacramento, miramos a nuestro Señor: Cuerpo, Sangre, Alma y Divinidad. Su adorable persona está delante de nosotros. Y esto también es un motivo de alegría.

Él no sólo viene a diario en nuestros altares, él también viene todos los días a nuestras almas. Él está a la puerta de nuestro corazón y golpes y le ruega para entrar. Nuestro Divino Salvador desea morar con nosotros. Nosotros, con toda nuestra pobreza, y quebranto, con nuestro cautiverio y debilidad, nuestros errores y pecados, todo el desorden que es la vida humana. Él anhela para enriquecer nuestra pobreza, para consolar nuestros corazones rotos, para liberarnos del cautiverio, fortalecer nuestra debilidad, perdonar y sanar nuestros errores y pecados, para limpiar y purificar el desorden de nuestras vidas. Alégrense, por el Dios que se acerca a nosotros, lo hace porque nos ama. ¿Por qué nos alegramos? ¿Cómo no?