Sunday, March 17, 2019


THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT  - CYCLE C - 2019

INTRODUCT
To help me in finding the meaning of these readings, I have looked at the Gospels from cycles A and B: A, is about encounter of the Samaritan woman with Jesus, B, is the purification of the Temple by Jesus; both readings are taken from the Gospel of John.   
 The theme that we can discover in these readings is conversion, a conversion which is fidelity to our call or vocation.

   FIRST READING  Ex 3:1-8a, 13-15    

Ø  Today’s reading speaks of the call YHWH makes to Moses.  


Ø  Moses comes with the flock of his father in law to the Horeb, Sinai, the mountain of God.  


Ø  God reveals himself to Moses     


o   as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that is, the God of the fathers.   


o   God is the God of history who takes care of the oppressed, the needy, and the one who suffers. This means that he is a God close to human beings who can say, “I have seen the oppression of my people in Egypt, I have heard their complaints against their oppressors and I have come to deliver them.”  


o   God besides being so close (immanent) is also a transcendent God:  


§  The burning bush which is not consumed  


§  The order given to Moses to take off his shoes because he is on holy ground. God is present there.  


§  His mysterious name  


o   The name    


§  For the peoples of the Bible the name is the same as the person, it has to be respected like the person is respected.  


§  In addition, to know the name of a person is in certain measure to have dominion over him or her, to be able to manipulate him or her.  


§  God cannot be manipulated, because he is the very OTHER. He says to Moses his name which seems enigmatic, or even a way not to say his true name


§  However, in reality, this is his true name, his identity I AM WHO AM, it means I am the one who does not depend on others to exist, I exist by myself. 




Ø  After explaining to Moses why he has come, he tells him to go to deliver his brothers and sisters. 

Ø  You will tell them I AM (YHWH) sends me to you to deliver you from Egypt and to lead you into a fertile land.  

Ø  What a beautiful text which narrates the conversation between God who calls and the one called that looks for excuses because he is afraid but finally he finds his strength in God to be faithful “I am with you.” 



RESPONSORIAL PSALM  Ps 103            

  

ü  Psalm 103 is a hymn to the mercy of God   

ü  It begins and ends with a blessing.  
ü  It has two sections: a) a song to love and pardon (3-10)  b) a song to love and frailty (11-19)
God loves us with an infinite love and an unparalleled tenderness   
ü  God is Father full of kindness.   
ü  Jesus, the image of the invisible God, reveals this kindness and love from the cross “Father forgive them…”  


R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R.
The Lord is kind and merciful.
He pardons all your iniquities,
heals all your ills,
He redeems your life from destruction,
crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R.
The Lord is kind and merciful.
The LORD secures justice
and the rights of all the oppressed.
He has made known his ways to Moses,
and his deeds to the children of Israel.
R.
The Lord is kind and merciful
Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
R.
The Lord is kind and merciful.

SECOND READING  1 Cor 10:1-6. 10-12

*      Paul reminds the community of Corinth how those who left Egypt and journeyed through the desert had the same experiences: the sea, the cloud, the manna, the Law.  
*      However, their fate was different due to the different way each one accepted the gratuitous gifts that God gave them. 
*      Paul continues to say that this happened to teach us. To teach what? Fidelity to the call we have received in baptism.  
*      And it is also a call not only to be faithful but, humble and trusting  in the Lord. “Therefore whoever,  thinks he is standing secure, should take care not to fall.   


GOSPEL  Lk 13:1-9

ü  Some people came to Jesus and,  told him about the Galileans, that Pilate had  killed. We do not know with what intention they communicated that to Jesus. 
ü  Jesus takes the opportunity to remind all his listeners that this happened to them not because they were worst sinners than the rest of us, but that all of us need to “convert to the Lord” and do good works, be faithful to our call, on the contrary, we will perish.  We will not perish because Pilate or somebody else will kill us, but because with our sins we will bring death upon us.   
ü  And the Lord continues to tell them a parable to illustrate what he had told them:  
o   A man had a fig tree planted in his orchard. 

o   When he came to pick up fruit there was none. 

o   He called the gardener and told him to cut it down because for three years he had come to search for fruit and had found none.  Why should it exhaust the soil for nothing?  
o   The gardener said to him, leave it for one more year, I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize.  
o   If it continues not to give fruit you can  cut it down. 
ü  This parable seems like the history of salvation accomplished by Jesus.  
o   He is the one who takes care of the fig tree, wait a little Father, let me go and live among them, and let me tell them how much you love them and how you wish them to live, and you will see how they change. 
o   I will hand myself over in their hands, loving them unconditionally as you love them, so they can see your love in me, learn and even if they kill me I will continue to love them.  

 CLARETIAN CORNER 

My Lord and my God, if you do not tell me in what religious order you want me to enter so as to comply with your      command, I do not know how this will be don.” Because by all means I wanted to be a religious. “My God, perhaps do you want something new?” (I did not know what I was asking)  I asked this question by Divine inspiration because it please hid Divine Majesty to be asked with simplicity, and if this seemed an  indiscreet question, because in God there is nothing impossible, our Lord did not take it wrong, because it was not asked our of curiosity, much less of mistrust in the infinite power of God,  (Our Lord has give this readiness, that as soon as I know the will of God, there is nothing difficult to me, blessed be God for his goodness. Thus, our Lord told me with much pleasure: “Yes, my daughter, I want a new order, but not new in doctrine but new in practice.” And here (at this moment) our Lord gave me the traits of the whole order and told me that I should be called: “APOSTLES of JESUS CHRIST IN IMITATION of THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY.” Venerable María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 7.

I often say to myself: It is of faith that there is a heaven for the good and a hell for the wicked. It is of faith, too, that the pains of hell are eternal. It is also of faith that a single mortal sin is enough to damn a soul because of the infinite malice of mortal sin, which is an offense against an infinite God. Since these principles are all so certain, the thought of the ease with which people sin--as if it were like taking a glass of water, as if it were something funny or amusing--the thought of the crowds that stay continuously in mortal sin and are thus on the road to death and hell--this thought robs me of rest, and I feel like running and crying out. And I tell myself:  If I saw someone about to fall into a pit or a fire, I would surely run and cry out a warning to save him from falling. Why shouldn't I do the same to save someone from falling into the pit and fire of hell? Saint Anthony Mary  Claret, Founder  of the Claretian Missionary Sisters. Autobiography 11-12.

BIBLIOGRAPHY 

            CLARET, Antonio María. Autobiography.

            PAGOLA, José A. El camino abierto por Jesús – Lucas,  2012.

            PARIS, María Antonia. Autobiography.

RAVASI, Gianfranco. Según las Escrituras – Ciclo C. San Pablo 2006. 

SCHÖKEL , Luis Alonso, La Biblia de nuestro Pueblo.

SAGRADA BIBLIA, Official Version of the Spanish Conference of Bishops. 2012.  

Sunday, March 10, 2019



SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT – CYCLE C – 2019

INTRODUCTION
*      Every year on the second Sunday of Lent the liturgy invites us to reflect on the Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus.   
*      Last Sunday we reflected on the mystery of Jesus being tempted as any one of us. We learned from him to fight against the temptations with the Word of God.  
*      Today, let us be filled with the light of the Transfigured Lord, and let us listen to Him as the Father invites us.  
*      Our reflection on the readings will be from the point of view of the Covenant.    
FIRST READING  Gn 15:5-12; 17-18    

This reading speaks of one of the covenants that God made with Abram. God had not yet changed his name.   

«  The Hebrew word for covenant is   berit (used to describe the relationship between a lord and his servant, it is a unilateral promise, wholly gratuitous and free on the part of the lord). The Greek word for covenant is  diatheke.  With these two words the Bible describes different kinds of covenants. Let us see some of them:
o   The first and the most gratuitous is the covenant of creation. Creation comes from  the gracious and loving initiative of God, who could not even consult us since we did not exist yes. Creation is continuous act of God,  thus the covenant made by God with his creation is permanent and continuous.   

o   We find different types of covenants in Scripture:  

§  God gives without asking anything in exchange = promise  Gn:8-11; 12-17 

§  God enters into a covenant  through a rite:  Gn 15:7-10.17

God enters into a bilateral covenant with his people:   Jos 24:1-28
«  The covenant we find in the first reading belongs to the second type of covenant: the covenant between God and Abram is made through a rite.  
Let us  analyze the biblical story 
«  Before the verses we will read this coming Sunday, God says to Abram “do not be afraid, because your reward will be abundant.” To these words of God Abram replies “what use do these gifts do to me since I do not have children, and my servant is the one who is going to inherit my possessions?”  
«  Let us reflect on the reading for this Sunday
o   The descendants of Abram will be as numerous as the stars in the firmament. Abram believes that YHWH can do what he says and thus he is justified, made just, saved.  
o   The promise is this: I will give to you the land you walk on    
o   God reminds Abram of all that he has done for him up to that moment. The faith of Israel and the Christian faith, as well, is grounded in tradition, in the memory of God’s mighty deeds for us.  Last week we read how Israel repeats his tradition in prayer “My father was a wandering Aramean” 

o   Abram asks God how will he know that the land will be his.   

o   God enters into a covenant with Abram. God relates to us in the way we understand according to our own culture, so that we may understand his message given to us.  

o   In the ancient religions the divinities were the witnesses to the covenants made by men, here in this text of the Bible YHWH himself is the witness and at the same time the one who makes the covenant. 
o   Abram prepares everything for the ceremony of the covenant God is going to make with him.    
o   He prepares the wood for the fire and on it in two separate  piles of wood he puts the cow that had previously being cut in two. Each part is put on a different pile of wood facing each other.   
o   The persons who entered into the covenant   had to walk between the two parts of the animal and say: let it be done to me as it has been done to this animal, if I am not faithful to the covenant I am about to enter.   
o   Abram feels asleep, and at the same time, terror invades him.  
o   The presence of God is very attractive to the human being, but at the same time it is terrifying, because God is the OTHER, completely different from us. 
o   Then Abram sees in the midst of the darkness of night something like a burning torch passing between the two parts of the cow. 
o   In the burning torch, he discovers the symbol of the presence of YHWH who is passing   between the two parts of the animal. God commits himself to be faithful to the covenant. 
o   As we can see this type of covenant is unilateral, only God commits himself, Abram is only an observer.

o   After that YHWH pronounces the words of the covenant which he makes with Abram on that day “To your descendants I will give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River Euphrates.”
SECOND READING : Phil 3:17- 4:1
ü  Paul invites o exhorts the community of Philippi to be faithful and to look towards those who live according to the teachings he (Paul) has given them. 
ü  He repeats with words full of tenderness and love “continue to be faithful to the Lord”   
ü  We are in the season of Lent, in which we reflect more deeply on the meaning of the Paschal Mystery of Christ, the New Covenant sealed in his blood on the Cross. On the cross, he forgave our sins; he paid for us the price of the covenant to which we have not been faithful.
ü  In the same way as the ancient prophets, Paul reminds them the need to be faithful to the New Covenant. 
o   Covenant in which the land that is given to us is heaven, eternal life forever.
o   However during our earthly God gives us “the land” a dwelling place, a restful place which is Jesus himself.
GOSPEL  Lk 9:28-36

§  Before the event of the transfiguration, Jesus makes the first announcement of his passion and explains the conditions of discipleship. 

§  Luke says that 8 days later,  it refers to the announcement Jesus makes of his passion.   
§  Jesus goes up to a high mountain to pray and takes with him the three closest disciples, the same that went with him to Jairus’  home and were witnesses of how Jesus gave back the life to the girl. They will be also invited by Jesus to be witnesses of his greatest weakness and vulnerability in Gethsemane. These disciples are Peter, James and John. 
§  While he is praying Jesus changes  his aspect and at the same time Moses and  Elijah appear talking to him
o   Moses en Elijah the whole Old Testament, the Law and the Prophets.   
o   They speak with him about his exodus, which will be consummated in Jerusalem. 

§  Jesus, as well as the two men, is radiant and his clothes are white, all of this is a sign  of the divinity.   
§  Luke says that the disciples felt asleep, would that be the same thing that happened to Abram in the presence of YHWH? Or what happened to the disciples at Gethsemane? 
§  When they awake, they see the glory of Jesus.  
§  They do not understand the true meaning of what is happening on the mountain. Peter speaks for the three of them, he wants to remain in that situation which is so marvelous,  he has forgotten the invitation of the Lord to follow the Master in his passion.   
§  The cloud covers them; the cloud is a symbol of the presence of God throughout the Old Testament and in the New Testament in the narrative of the Annunciation. 
§  Like Abram who felt fear, the disciples are afraid when the cloud covers them and they hear the voice of the Father. 
§  What does the voice say? THIS IS MY CHOSEN SON, LISTEN TO HIM.    
§  This voice of the Father relates the two narratives of the transfiguration and of the baptism. 

§  But here the Father adds “Listen to him” 

§  The three of them have been invited to follow the Master as disciples, and one thing that a disciple has to do is to listen and to obey. 

They shall not  say anything to anyone, probably because before the resurrection this event could not be understood correctly.    


 CLARETIAN CORNER

Beside what I saw in these sacred letters (without seeing anything with my bodily eyes as I have said above) an interior voice in the depths of my soul, was explaining me their meaning and the way to practice (…)  To my understanding I saw everything in Christ Crucified who, as he was teaching me the divine letters, was explaining me their meaning. As this was the first time that our Lord spoke to me, I did not understand of these things and I did not know how to comply with his commands. I was crying abundantly and I told his Divine majesty, whom I had very present, that seemed to me that I was speaking face to face with the Majesty of God and said…  Venerable María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters,  6.
The reason is that, as I have said, I am so soft-hearted and compassionate that I can't bear seeing misfortune or misery without doing something to help. I would take the bread out of my own mouth to give it to the poor. In fact, I would abstain from putting it into my mouth in order to have something to give to those who are asking for it. I am even scrupulous about spending anything at all on myself when I think of the needs I can remedy. Well, then, if these momentary physical misfortunes affect me so much, it is understandable what I feel in my heart at the thought of the everlasting pains of hell--not for me, but for all those who willingly live in mortal sin. Saint Anthony Mary  Claret, Founder  of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 10.  

BIBLIOGRAPHY

CLARET, Anthony  Mary. Autobiography.

PARIS, María Antonia. Autobiography

RAVASI, Gianfranco. Según las Escrituras – Ciclo C. San Pablo 2006. 

SCHÖKEL , Luis Alonso, La Biblia de nuestro Pueblo.

SAGRADA BIBLIA, Versión Oficial de la Conferencia Episcopal Española

Sunday, March 3, 2019


FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT  - CYCLE C - 2019
INTRODUCTION 
 In his Gospel Luke tells us that Jesus resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, the holy city.  
 Have we begun our Lenten journey with the same enthusiasm, ready to give our life to our Master for the good of our brothers and sisters?      
Let us see what does the Lord have to say to us in the readings for this Sunday 
Since Lent is one of the special seasons of the Church’s liturgy, the three readings have a common theme. 
 I have read the commentary, made by Gianfranco Ravassi,  and I like the way he looks at them. For him the three readings speak of the profession of faith, made in different ways.    
 I have decided to use this point of view to make my own commentary. 


FIRST READING  Dt 26: 4-10. 
Ø  In  the Hebrew Bible the Book of Deuteronomy  is called “These are the words…” because the book begins with this phrase.     
Ø  In the Greek translation it has been given the name Deuteronomy = second law. 
Ø  The book is completely orientated to the words that Moses addresses to his people on the threshold of the promise land. 
Ø  These words of Moses are written in different literary genres: narrations, laws, counsels and poetry having the LAW as a backdrop. 
Ø  Chapter 26 is about the first fruits offered to God.  
Ø  Moses tells his people that whenever they go before the Lord to offer the first fruits of their crops, they will say : My father was a wandering Aramean…  
Ø  These are the first words of Israel’s profession of faith.   
o   It is the confession of their own origin wandering Aramean…They  went down to Egypt and established themselves there, they increased in numbers.    
o   As a consequence to be so numerous they were oppressed by the Egyptians who made them suffer   
o   They cried out to their God and he listened to them, taking them from the land of slavery.  
o   He gave them freedom, led them with strong hand, and outstretch arm to the land where they are now.  
Ø  With these words, the faithful Israelite confesses that God is great, that God listens to the cry of the suffering and of the poor, and that God led them to the Land.   
Ø  He confesses that God is a God who is near, who journeys with us, who guides  us. 
Ø  Together with the profession of faith, he will offer the first fruits of his crop. He is no more a wandering Aramean, now he is an Israelite who inhabits the land; he is not a nomad anymore. He does not go wandering with his animals, but he has now settled in the Land, and thus offers the first fruits.  

Ø  What a beautiful profession of faith, short and at the same time so respectful, so full of love and trust in the Lord his God.    

SECOND READING   Rm 10:8-13
« Paul invites the members of his community to believe in Jesus Christ, to profess with the mouth, and to believe with the heart that Jesus is the Lord. 
« The Israelite was invited to profess his faith in the Almighty God, YHWH, who had freed them from slavery. 
« Paul invites his community to profess their faith in Jesus, as Lord and God, who, giving up his life on the cross has liberated us from the greatest slavery, sin. 
« To profess this faith we do not need to be descendants of the wandering Aramean, but all of us without distinction of race, color, nationality, genre we are invited to make this profession of faith in Jesus dead and risen for the liberation of all.  
GOSPEL  Lk 4:1-13
*     Luke introduces Jesus to us, the Jesus whom Paul invites us to believe in, the Jesus who is tempted before beginning his mission. Mission that will lead him to the cross and resurrection, and that will be our salvation. 
*     After his baptism, Jesus goes away and allows himself to be guided by the Spirit   into the desert. The desert, which will be the place of the temptation, solitude, struggle and encounter face to face with God and with himself.
*     Jesus, after his baptism in the Jordan River, hears the voice of the Father saying: You are my beloved son; with you I am well pleased.   
*     Now he is alone reflecting and meditating on the mission that the Father has for him, he is afraid like all of us when we think that the mission, God has for us, will be difficult, and as a consequence we will suffer rejection and scorn. 
*     Surely that the temptations that the evangelists narrate are a composition of the temptations he suffered during his lifetime. 
*     The temptations as Luke describes them will always begin with the words or the thought: If you are the son of God. As if the temptation was oriented toward the nature, of whom Jesus is.   
o   I do not believe that the temptation of the bread is only about bread, or food, but it is the temptation to use his power for his own benefit not for the service of others. Is it not one of our strongest temptations, to put ourselves before everybody else?   
o   Luke changes the order of the temptations, and puts as the second temptation the one about the kingdoms of the world.  It is the temptation to do what we are called to do but in our own way, in an easy way. Why should Jesus have to suffer humiliation, scorn, rejection and death to follow the will of the Father, if he can do it in another way more reasonable?   
o   For Luke the last temptation is the most dangerous, it happens in the Temple of Jerusalem. The greatest temptation happens in the city of Jerusalem.   This is the temptation to provoke God, to manipulate God so that he will do what we want, we will not do his will, but he will do our will.  It is the temptation of making an idol of the true God.   
o   Through all these temptations,  Jesus uses the words from Scripture to defeat the evil spirit.
o    The answer of Jesus to the temptations is his profession of faith, trust, surrendering in the hands of God, his Abba,  whom he loves unconditionally.   
CLARETIAN CORNER

 I was very attentive, overwhelmed to what was happening, and it seemed to me that I was reading the Holy Law of God, but without seeing any books nor letters; I  was seeing it written, and I was understanding it so very well, that it seemed to me it was imprinting in my soul but in a particular way the book of the Holy Gospels, which till then I had never read, neither  the Sacred Scripture (O.T). After, by God’s grace, I have read something and I have seen it written word by word, as our Lord taught it to me from the holy tree of the cross. It seems to me that the words I understood were coming out from his holy mouth Venerable María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters. Autobiography 5.

This troubled me deeply, for I am by nature very compassionate. The idea of an eternity of torment made such a deep impression on me, either because of the tenderness it evoked in me or because of the many times I thought about it, that it is surely the thing that to this day I remember best. The power of this idea has made me work in the past, still makes me work, and will make me work as long as I live, in converting sinners, in preaching, in hearing confessions, in writing books, in distributing holy cards and pamphlets, and in having familiar conversations.  St. Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters. Aubiography 9. 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

CLARET, Anthony  Mary. Autobiography.

PARIS, María Antonia. Autobiography

RAVASI, Gianfranco. Según las Escrituras – Ciclo C. San Pablo 2006. 

SCHÖKEL , Luis Alonso, La Biblia de nuestro Pueblo.

SAGRADA BIBLIA, Versión Oficial de la Conferencia Episcopal Española