Wednesday, September 21, 2016


XXVI SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME  - CYCLE C - SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

·          Amos continues inviting us to live in justice and compassion towards our brothers and sisters less fortunate.  

·         We will listen to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. This parable like the words of Amos invite us to take seriously the matter of justice in our relationships.  

·         The author of the letter to Timothy   tells  him how to behave as a follower of Jesus

FIRS READING  Amos  6:1a. 4-7

ü  This reading is taken from the "woes' section" called also "lamentations"  in chapter 5 and 6. 

ü  The reading gives us the third woe.  

ü  If we did not know that we are reading something related to many centuries ago, we would think that the prophet is speaking of our own time and society.  

ü  Amos tells the powerful, the rich men that they live in the opulence and that they are not sensitive to the suffering of those who lack almost everything.  

ü  He gives a very vivid description: they participate in banquets, they sing, they dance... in a word they do nothing useful. 

ü  They take advantage of those who lack almost everything, and they, the rich, take from them the little they have, or they do not give to them  their salary.  

ü  The consequences of this empty and selfish life will be great. When the Assyrians come they will be the first to be deported. This was the policy of the Assyrians, to take the powerful from their own  nation, so that they could not organize a revolt. But they  were  leaving  the poor of the land to care for it. 

ü  It is not difficult to see something similar in our society today.   we are continually invited  to spend    to spend the little we have in futile things for the profit of the business  owners.   We are offered continually "sales" or "two for the price of one," or they make us believe that "we can buy without paying now and  without interest..."  

ü  In a word they play with our  inclination to possess without effort, to spent money without thinking....   

ü  But I do not think that we have to look only to the world of opulence, of the businesses etc... the readings invites all of us to look at our own life and see if there is something in it  similar  to what the prophets describes. 

ü  The great sin of all those Amos is describing in his oracle, and also of the rich man of the parable of Luke is the "indifference" in front of the suffering and the need of whole countries, whole continents…   

RESPONSORIAL  PSALM . Ps 146  7,8-9,9-10     

R.  Praise the Lord, my soul!
 Blessed he who keeps faith forever,
secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets captives free.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
 The LORD gives sight to the blind.
The LORD raises up those who were bowed down;
the LORD loves the just.
The LORD protects strangers.
R.
Praise the Lord, my soul!
The fatherless and the widow he sustains,
but the way of the wicked he thwarts.
The LORD shall reign forever;
your God, O Zion, through all generations. Alleluia.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!

§  The psalms repeats what Amos has said, God will not forget the wrong we do to others. 

§  The psalm says it by means of song, poetry, but it is the same message, it is a call to justice and compassion = to suffer with...  

GOSPEL  Lk 16: 19-31

*      Before we begin to analyze this parable, let us look at what comes before it in chapter 16 of the Gospel of Luke. 

*      The reason to do so is because the Gospels have an inner order through which the author wants to help us to understand the message.  

*      Chapter 16 of Luke begins with the parable of the "dishonest steward"  then comes the words addressed to the Pharisees, who loved money and power.   

*      In a word we may say that this is a chapter on the need to use money justly.  

*      Let us see now the parable  

§  It is a story we know very well, the story of two human beings  

§  One is rich but does not have a name, his life is empty and Luke says that not giving him a name.   

§  The other man has a name in spite of being a "nobody" for the rich man who does not even see him. He only realizes that Lazarus exists when he needs him, when he wants to use him for his convenience.   

§  This man is called Lazarus = Eliezer which means "God helps", what a beautiful name the name of this beggar, and certainly God helps.      

§  The sin of the rich man is not that he abuses the poor man or takes advantage of him, not even a sin of "social injustice", but a sin  of "indifference"  He does not see the poor man, he does not feel his needs, he is totally indifferent.   

§  The human beings do not help the poor man full of sores, but the dogs, those dogs who are as homeless as he is, take care of his wounds.

§  These two men die like everybody does. None of us takes anything when we die: neither the riches, nor the sores... nothing. At this time we are all equals, simple human beings poor and naked before our Creator and Father.   

§  The fate these two men changes immediately: the rich man is buried, why do they tell us something which is so normal to be buried? because he is buried in the abyss of the dead, he is forgotten forever, nobody remembers him.  

§  the poor man is taken to the bosom of Abraham, which is the image of peace and consolation reserved for those who die in the Lord, who will enjoy happiness for all eternity. 

§  The reaction of the rich man, as Luke describes it, is very interesting. On one side he is as selfish as always "tell Lazarus to come to alleviate my suffering..." on the other side he is able to act moved by love for his brothers.   

§  The words of Abraham make us think "between you and us there is a great chasm that nobody can cross."  

§  Maybe this is the best description of what happens between selfishness and unconditional love.  

§  This parable does not need more explanation, let us enter into our heart and let us see in it how much of the rich man we have and how much of the poor. From there let us make our own reflection.   

SECOND READING  1 Tm 6:11-16

v  The author of the letter continues to tell Timothy how to behave as a man of God called to the pastoral  ministry. 

v  He invites Timothy to live according to the commandments and to exhort him to do it he reminds him that Jesus gave witness in front of Pilate. 

v  We know that because of this witnessing, he died, but his death was redeeming us.   

v  It is an invitation to Timothy to live a good life.  

v  Until Christ  the Lord  of Lords comes again.   

v  His is the honor and glory.

POST-SYNODAL APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION
AMORIS LAETITIA -   POPE FRANCIS

“At the risk of oversimplifying, we might say that we live in a culture which pressures young people not to start a family, because they lack possibilities for the future.  Yet this same culture presents others with so many options that they too are dissuaded from starting a family”.14  In some countries, many young persons “postpone a wedding for economic reasons, work or study.  Some do so for other reasons, such as the influence of ideologies which devalue marriage and family, the desire to avoid the failures of other couples, the fear of something they consider too important and sacred, the social opportunities and economic benefits associated with simply living together, a purely emotional and romantic conception of love, the fear of losing their freedom and independence, and the rejection of something conceived as purely institutional and bureaucratic”.15  We need to find the right language, arguments and forms of witness that can help us reach the hearts of young people, appealing to their capacity for generosity, commitment, love and even heroism, and in this way inviting them to take up the challenge of marriage with enthusiasm and courage. (40)

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 JENSEN, Joseph, Ethical Dimensions of the Prophets.

PAGOLA, José A.  Following in the Footsteps of Jesus. Meditations on the Gospels for Year C.

POPE FRANCIS. Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia”

 RAVASI, Gianfranco, Según las Escrituras, Año C.

SCHÖKEL, Luis Alonso, Comentario a La Biblia de nuestro Pueblo.

The Catholic Study Bible, Second Edition. New American Bible.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016


 
XXV SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - CYCLE C - SEPTEMBER 18, 2016 

The liturgy of the Church continues to put before our eyes the teachings of Jesus that Luke left for us in his Gospel. Today Jesus teaches us a lesson which may help us in our society: the use of riches 

FIRST READING - PROPHET AMOS
Ø  This prophet lived during the VIII BC. He was born in the Southern Kingdom, Judah; but the Lord called him to do his ministry as a prophet in the Northern Kingdom, Israel. 

Ø  He has been called the prophet of the justice of God.  

Ø  Justice as the Scripture understands it, not in the way our modern states understand it. We say that justice is to give to each one what is his or hers. We also say that justice is to abide the law.   

Ø  But for the people of the Bible, justice has to do with human relationships and also later on with human and divine relationships.  

Ø  It has to do with the mercy and the generosity that we discover so abundantly and, surprisingly in the relationship of God with us.   

Ø  The just deeds of God are acts of liberation of his people from slavery.   

Ø  Jesus has manifested to us in a very clear and surprising way this justice of God, in the fact that the Son of God personally has come to live among us, in order to make us just, with the justice of God, liberating us from the greatest of the slaveries: sin.  

Ø  Thus we may truly say that the book of Amos is about justice, not the justice of God but the lack of justice of the people. 

Amos 8:4-7

ü  Amos describes the lie, the lack of truth in the behavior of those who accumulate riches, to enjoy them without worrying about those less fortunate. 
ü  He describes persons who "abide" the law, with a fake repose, but God sees something else, he sees the lack of truth of his creature,  those persons rest on the Sabbath because they are constraint to do it, but while they apparently do nothing, they are planning their businesses.     
ü  They not only plan their business, they also think how they will cheat, take advantage  and trick those more vulnerable.   
ü  The prophet Amos, who defended strongly the rights of all, puts in the mouth of God a sentence which terrifies us, if we take it seriously, "never will I forget a thing they have done!"  
ü  It does not frighten us, that God who "forgets and erases" all the sins we have committed, says that he will never forget the injustice that we do to our brothers and sisters?  
ü  What will he say to our generation, to our society, to our church, to our communities, to our families about the millions of our brothers and sisters who die every day in grat numbers, from lack of what is most essential for the human life, while we waste money and possessions buying worthless things and making devices to kill?   
ü   Each one of us will give his or her own answer to that question.   
ü  I think that this is the purpose to choose these readings for the liturgy  

RESPONSORIAL  PSALM  Ps 113 
PRAISE THE LORD WHO LIFTS UP THE POOR. 
Praise, you servants of the Lord
praise the name of the Lord
blessed be the name of the Lord
both now and forever.
PRAISE THE LORD WHO LIFTS UP THE POOR. 
High above all nations is the Lord
above the heavens is his glory
who is like the Lord, our God, who is enthroned on high
and looks upon the heavens and the earth below?
PRAISE THE LORD WHO LIFTS UP THE POOR. 
He raises up the lowly from the dust
from the dunghill he lifts up the poor
to seat them with princes
with the princes of his own people. 
PRAISE THE LORD WHO LIFTS UP THE POOR.  

v  This psalm describes the works of the power of God, who bends towards the needy, the poorest, thus showing his mercy and justice.   

GOSPEL Lk 16:1-3
*      This is a very interesting parable of Jesus. 

*      It describes the situation of an employee, one who works for a salary, a steward to whom the master asks him to give an account of his administration, before he is fired from his job.  

*      The reason to fire him is that he has been dishonest, he has not been faithful to his master, but has used his position for his own benefit, cheating.   

*      Let us look more closely to the situation of that man: 
·         On one hand we realize that the behavior of this man is as dishonest as the behavior of those men described in the first reading. His life  is a lie. He has the appearance of honesty and fidelity, while the truth is that he is dishonest and     a liar. 
·         On the other hand we realize also that in some way he is able to be honest sometimes. He says the truth about himself: he cannot work because he has never worked, he is not able to beg, to ask for help, but he finds the way. He will lower the debts of all the debtors of his master. In this way he will continue to be in charge, he will not be subjected to them, because he knows that they are also dishonest, as much as he is.  In a word he is blackmailing them.  
*      Sometimes as I meditate on the situation of injustice in which we live in our societies, it seems to me that it is very similar to what the parable explains to us:   

§  Those who "sell" to us, they really "buy" us instead, lowering the prices and giving two for one  
§  Then our greed makes us  blind and we do not see anymore the injustice around us.
§  Thus we do not denounce because if we do so, it we will be left without the benefits that they offer to us.    
*      Jesus continues saying that the "children of the world", world understood as unjust society, are wiser than those who try to live according to the values of the Kingdom.   

*      Jesus continues saying that we use what the unjust riches produce to help others,  and in so doing we will transform them in just riches if we share them  with those less fortunate than us, with our employees ...  

*      Something very interesting is that riches are presented as something we do not own we only are the stewards of it.   

*      And this is the truth, none of us owns the riches, we only administer them. The call here is to administer with the justice of God, which is the same as the truth of God.   

*      Strong message, this one, it knocks at the door of our heart strongly inviting us to live in the truth of God, in his justice which is made of mercy.  

SECOND LETTER   1 Tm 2:1-8
v  The author of this letter invites us to personal and community prayer 
v  A prayer with external movements. 
v  A prayer for those who govern us  
v  And not only pray for them for their own good  
v  But also for the good of all, so that we will be able to live in peace.   
v  The reason for this is the only mediator that we have, Christ Jesus who wants to save us.
v  This second reading has something in common with the other two readings: peace and justice.     

BIBLIOGRAPHY
 JENSEN, Joseph. Ethical Dimension of the Prophets. Collegeville, Minnesota  2006. 
PAGOLA, José A.  Following in the Footsteps of Jesus. Meditations on the Gospels for Year C.
RAVASI, Gianfranco, Según las Escrituras, Año C.
SCHÖKEL, Luis Alonso, Comentario a La Biblia de nuestro Pueblo. 

POST-SYNODAL APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION AMORIS LAETITIA OF POPE FRANCIS
We must be grateful that most people do value family relationships that are permanent and marked by mutual respect.  They appreciate the Church’s efforts to offer guidance and counselling in areas related to growth in love, overcoming conflict and raising children.  Many are touched by the power of grace experienced in sacramental Reconciliation and in the Eucharist, grace that helps them face the challenges of marriage and the family.  In some countries, especially in various parts of Africa, secularism has not weakened certain traditional values, and marriages forge a strong bond between two wider families, with clearly defined structures for dealing with problems and conflicts.  Nowadays we are grateful too for the witness of marriages that have not only proved lasting, but also fruitful and loving.  All these factors can inspire a positive and welcoming pastoral approach capable of helping couples to grow in appreciation of the demands of the Gospel.  Yet we have often been on the defensive, wasting pastoral energy on denouncing a decadent world without being proactive in proposing ways of finding true happiness.  Many people feel that the Church’s message on marriage and the family does not clearly reflect the preaching and attitudes of Jesus, who set forth a demanding ideal yet never failed to show compassion and closeness to the frailty of individuals like the Samaritan woman or the woman caught in adultery.(38)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


XXII SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – AUGUST 28, 2016



The theme of our celebration is humility, which is the same as truth and wisdom. We will listen to the words of  Ben Sirach in the first reading, and of Jesus, our teacher, in  the Gospel.  



THE BOOK OF  SIRACH OR ECCLESIASTICUS

·        It is a wisdom book which is part of the deuterocanonical books, the books of the second list.  These are the books that the people of Israel do not recognize as revealed by God, they were written in foreign lands in Greek, not in Hebrew. Our brothers and sisters from other Christian traditions do not acknowledge them either as part of the canonical books.  

·        For us in the Christian of Catholic tradition this book (Ecclesiasticus) is counted among the revealed books.  

·        It is part of the wisdom literature, so common in the Middle East.   

·        Contrary to what was believed the original book, was written npt written in Greek but in Hebrew by a man known as Simon son of Jesus, who was the grand- father of the man who translated the book into the Greek language. (see foreword of the Catholic Study Bible)

·        In chapter 51, the author Simon son of Jesus says that he has looked for wisdom with passion, and this is the wisdom he shares with the reader.   



FIRST READING Sir 3:17-18, 20-, 28-29

The author addresses someone as "my son" It can be his real son or it may also be the way an elder person speaks to a younger one. 

v  He gives the following counsels: 

ü  Humility, the reward of conducting oneself with humility will be the love of those who know him or her, they will love him more than they love those who make gifts.  

ü  If you are greater, humble yourself the more.  

ü  Avoid what is over your possibilities  

ü  a listening ear  gives joy to the wise.   

*      this listening is not of anything, not of gossips, not of novelties... 

*      in Scripture a listening ear means to be attentive to what God is saying to us through  the events of life, through other persons and through creation, it has the same meaning as obedience.       

*      The joy comes to us when we listen to God and obey him, even when we experience suffering because of that obedience, there is an inner peace.   

ü  The reading ends with the sentence " water quenches the fire, alms atone for  sin."  



RESPONSORIAL PSAL - Ps  68:4-5, 6-7, 10-11

GOD IN YOUR GOODNESS, YOU HAVE MADE A HOME FOR THE POOR.   

The just rejoice and exult before God;

they are glad and rejoice

Sing to God, chant praise to his name;

whose name is the Lord.  

GOD IN YOUR GOODNESS, YOU HAVE MADE A HOME FOR THE POOR.   

The father of orphans and the defender of widows

is God in his holy dwelling.

God gives a home to the forsaken;

he leads forth prisoners to prosperity.

GOD IN YOUR GOODNESS, YOU HAVE MADE A HOME FOR THE POOR.   

A bountiful rain you showered down, O God,

upon your inheritance

you restored the land when it languished;

your flock settled in it;

in your goodness, O God, you provided it for the needy.

GOD IN YOUR GOODNESS, YOU HAVE MADE A HOME FOR THE POOR.   



GOSPEL - LUKE 14:1,7-14

Ø  Like the past Sundays, we hear Jesus teaching what is the Kingdom and how are we supposed to behave in the kingdom, which has already begun on earth. 

Ø  Luke tells us that Jesus recommended humility, as a way to behave in relationship with others.  

Ø  The first reading invited us to live a simple life without ambitions or looking for what goes beyond our capacities.   

Ø  Humility according to St. Therese of Avila, is the same as truth. 

Ø  The root of this word

o   is the Latin word humus which means dust of the earth.

o   We have been made from the same matter as the rest of creation.

o   It is the transforming love of God who has transformed our mud into light,

o   into divine life which he has given to us, and which he is willing to continue giving to all and everyone.  

Ø  Let us listen to the teaching of Jesus, what he tells us as he sees the guest at the wedding looking for the first seats, those who are closer to the married couple.  

Ø  Jesus says to us:  

·        If you go to a wedding banquet do not sit at the place of honor  

·        Why? Very simple, if these sits have been assigned to other people by the owner of the house, he will ask you to move back and give your sit to the person for whom it has been reserved. 

·        You will feel shame and will have to stand up and go to a lower place.  

·        But if you sit at the last place, then you will have the chance to move to a higher place.   

·        If we think higher of us than what we really are, we will suffer a lot of humiliations, but if we recognize who we are, simple and  lowly persons created and loved by God,  then the Lord will honor us.

·        After that parable Jesus says some words that always make us wonder, because we do not fully understand  what do  they mean.   

·        Do not invite those who can repay you... relatives, friends, important persons... What is wrong about inviting them to a dinner in our home? Does not friendship grow through those celebrations?   

·        Yes, but Jesus does not say that, he is simply saying that we should not take advantage of other people, inviting them to get something from them.

·        The list of guests he mentions is the image of those who cannot pay us back: lame, poor, blind... 

·        Blessed are you because they cannot repay you, it is the heavenly Father who will repay you on the last day, the day of the retribution because you have served your brothers and sisters in need.  



SECOND READING : Heb 12:18-19,22-24a

*      This passage of the letter to the Hebrews, offers to us the contrast between the theophanies of the Old Covenant, and those of the New Covenant.  

*      In the Old Covenant the theophanies to the patriarchs, during the exodus, to the prophets are always described by means of terrifying natural phenomena. It is a way to explain to us that God is THE OTHER, transcendent, whom we cannot approach or touch.   

*      The description of the presence of God among us in the New Covenant are through the person of a simple man, Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth, known as the son of Joseph and of Mary, who lived a  life like the life of any Israelite of his time with simplicity and fidelity.  

*      This man so simple is the Second Person of the Trinity who comes to us under kind and attractive signs.  

*      This man is the mediator of the New Covenant which is so different from the Old one in its manifestations. 







POST-SYNODAL  APOSTOLIC  EXHORTATION

THE JOY OF LOVE “AMORIS  LÆTITIA”

OF  THE  HOLY  FATHER FRANCIS



 The majestic early chapters of Genesis present the human couple in its deepest reality.  Those first pages of the Bible make a number of very clear statements.  The first, which Jesus para- phrases, says that “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (1:27). It is striking that the “image of God” here refers to the couple, “male and female”.  Does this mean that sex is a property of God himself, or that God has a divine female companion, as some ancient religions held? Naturally, the answer is no.  We know how clearly the Bible rejects as idolatrous such beliefs, found among the Canaanites of the Holy Land.  God’s transcendence is preserved, yet inasmuch as he is also the Creator, the fruitfulness of the human couple is a living and effective “image”, a visible sign of his creative act. (10)

BIBLIOGRAPHY
RAVASI, Gianfranco, Según las Escrituras, Año C.
SCHÖKEL, Luis Alonso, Commentary to the Biblia de nuestro Pueblo
PAGOLA, José A. Following in the Footsteps of Jesus. Meditations on the Gospels for Year C.
POPE FRANCIS, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation: The Joy of Love. 2015