Thursday, December 22, 2011


The meditation this week will be: one, on the Gospel of the Christmas Vigil Mass and, three on the gospels of the Christmas Masses. 
For Christmas the Liturgy has three different Masses celebrated at different times: midnight, dawn,  and day. 
These gospels are so rich that we cannot let them go without submerging ourselves into their meaning, and without allowing ourselves to be filled with the tenderness, simplicity, peace, freedom and consolation they bring into our lives. 
The Lord Jesus is not near, He is in our midst and he comes in the humility of a simple and poor human life. The Baby of Bethlehem is the perfect image of the Father, of his love for all of us. Each one of us can truly say “he loves me and comes to be with me.”  
Gospel of Matthew  1:1-25
The coming of the Messiah is the climax of Israel’s history, and the end of a long period of waiting for the one who will fulfill the promises made to the Fathers.  The Infancy narratives are found in chapters 1 and 2 of Matthew and of Luke as well. They were written long time after the rest of the gospels were written.  They were written to answer the questions that the communities of the second generation of Christians had: Who are the ancestors of Jesus? Where was he born?  With the little information they could find Matthew and Luke wrote the Infancy Narratives using as literary style what is called midrash.  What is this? The teachers in Israel will explain a text of the Scripture by means of a short story. The difference between the Jewish and Christian midrash is that in the Christian literature they do not start with a passage from Scripture, but from the life of Jesus. 

In Matthew the “infancy narratives” are formed by a genealogy and five stories. Jesus is introduced with the characteristics of another Moses.     

«  The first chapter of Matthew wants to answer the question about the ancestors of Jesus. It does it giving long lists of historical and concrete persons.    

«  The second chapter wants to answer the question about the place of birth. It does it giving many names of places.  

«  The Genealogy  Mt 1:1-17

o   The genealogy is composed by three different groups of 14 generations each. 

o   The family of Jesus comes from King David’s family, and still more it goes to Abraham, the man of faith in the promises which Jesus fulfills. 

o   We can draw several messages from this genealogy, from this long list of names of real and concrete men who became fathers. Behind each name there is a real person who believed, hoped, sinned, repented, wanted to love God, and dreamed that they would see the One who was to come to liberate them from their oppressors.  

o   Together with these names, the text mentions the name of five women. The names of four of them make us think of the universality of salvation: universal in relation to sin and universal in relation to culture and nationality. Let us see each one of them:      

§  Tamar. By means of a trick she conceives a son from her father-in-law.   (Gn 38,1-30)

§  Rahab, (foreigner) a prostitute that helped the Israelites conquer Jerico   (Jos. 2, 1-21)

§  Ruth a Moabite woman, a foreigner who becomes the grand-mother of King David (Rut cc.1-4)

§  Bathsheba the wife of Uriah who conceived, from David, Solomon in a situation on the part of David of adultery and murder(2 Samuel chapters 11-12.)

§  The fifth woman is Mary the mother of Jesus who is completely different from the others, she is Israelite as some of them, but she is full of grace.   

o   Another interesting thing about this genealogy is that after each one of the names of these men the gospel says “became father,” but after mentioning Joseph it says “the husband of Mary from whom Christ was born.    

o   Another message besides the universality which we have already mentioned, is that God does not delay to fulfill his promises, although we may experience it sometimes. His promises are fulfilled when it is the right time for us, when we are ready to welcome them. During the long centuries that the people of Israel was waiting, many men and women, probably, desired that the promises would be fulfilled during their lifetime, maybe at the time of de Judges when they were attacked by their neighbors, or during the Babylonian exile, or after returning from the exile. But God knows better.

«  The Birth of Jesus   Matthew 1,18-25

o   Matthew presents to us the experience of Joseph.  His role in the birth and life of this child of Mary, the Son of the Most High God.   

o   Jesus becomes a member of the family (dynasty) of David through Joseph, his legal father.   

o   We are told that Joseph was a just man. Just in the manner of God. The justice of God is not like our justice. It is a justice that embraces and transforms us. A justice that makes us in his image (God’s) Jesus will always show this justice with love and respect for every  human being. 

o   We see Joseph, as we will see later on Mary, accept the plan of God in his own life. He accepts to change his plans and make room for the plans of God. Let us reflect on what are the changes that Joseph experienced and had to welcome in his life.   Lets us look at our life and discover what is God asking from me?   


«  Luke  2,1-14

o   On Reading the first three chapters of Luke we realize that there is a great parallelism between the beginnings of the life of Jesus and of John the Baptist.  

o   The first two chapters belong to the Infancy narratives and are written as midrash.

o   The evangelist mentions a census which the historians have not been able to find in any of the registers and chronicles of the time. It is only found in the New Testament. 

o    Jesus was born during the governance of the Emperor Augustus. The reign of Augustus initiated an era of relative peace known as the Pax Romana, or Roman peace.

o   This Roman Emperor cooperated with the Plan of God, without knowing it, in the same way that Cyrus did by the time of the Babylonian exile and return from it.   

o   Mary gave birth to her firstborn. This does not mean that she had other children, but that her son Jesus had the rights and privileges of the firstborn  (Gn 27; Ex 13; Num 3:12-13; Dt 21:15-17.

o   She wrapped him in swaddling clothes. This word reminds us that Jesus the son of God and the son of Mary was part of the people, of those who are marginalized, poor, those that do not count in society.  

o   The manger  brings  to our mind the words of the prophet Isaiah (Is 1,3.)

o   The proclamation of the angels to the shepherds is again a sign that the good news are preached to the poor. Luke will tell us this over and over again in his Gospel.  

o   A savior has been born for you…. Glory… peace.   Isaiah in chapter 11 of his book described the coming of the Messiah with images of a extraordinary beauty to describe the peace that this coming Messiah would bring to us, (Is 11:6-9.) 

«  Luke 2:15-20

o   Let us go then to Bethlehem to see…. Those who have a simple heart accept easily what God does in their lives, and know how to discover God’s presence in the simple events, here the event is the birth of a baby from a poor couple. Mary and  Joseph  belonged  to this group of persons, they  hardly understood what God explained to them by means of the angel, but they knew well only one thing, God loves me and asks something from me, it must be good. “Be it done unto me”

o   The shepherds go to Bethlehem. The name of the city means the house of bread. Mary carries in her womb the true bread which comes from heaven, the Bread of the Eucharist

o   They found Jesus with Mary and Joseph. We always find Jesus with Mary, she leads us to Him. Joseph has always been considered in the tradition of the Catholic Church as the protector of the Church, which is the body of Jesus.  

o   Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. She pondered what was the meaning of all these events. In the annunciation she did the same thing and asked the angel for answers. The gospel will say several times the same words “Mary kept these things 

o   It helps to read that Mary did not understand what God was doing in her. This process of faith will last during her entire earthly life.  At the side of her Son Mary was discovering everyday   the wonders of God in her son, in her and in everyone else.  

o   The shepherds went back and told everyone what they had seen. This is to evangelize, to proclaim the Gospel of the good news we have experienced. In the Gospels we will read   of other persons who reacted in the same way (Mary visiting Elisabeth, the Samaritan woman, the man possessed by the devil, the man born blind, Philip and Andrew…)   

«  John 1:1-5

o   “In the beginning”, these words bring to our memory the first words of the Bible which we read in the Book of Genesis, the book of the origins.    

o   The creating Word, through whom all things are made is with the Father from the beginning.  

o   When John speaks of light he speaks of life. 

o   The light shines in the darkness, the Word of life shines in the darkness of our human reality.    

o   The light makes itself visible in the world, he has always been in the world. 

o   But his own did not receive him. Luke will express the same reality saying that there was no room for them in the inn.  

o   Our society, ourselves, we do not have room for him. We remove the signs of his presence because we do not want to offend others who are not believers. But instead of doing something good for them we do the contrary, since we deprive them of the possibility to come to discover his presence among us, to experience the joy of knowing Him. The same joy that we have.  

o   And in spite of this he comes to us, stays with us, calls us over and over again. And the WORD, THE ETERNAL WORD OF GOD, THE ONLY SON OF GOD, becomes flesh, becomes vulnerable like us, he comes close to us, lives among us.   

o   There is one translation that says the Word   “pitched his tent among us.”  It reminds us of the nomad people who migrate from one place to another, and pitch their tent whenever they want to stop for some time. The Word has pitched his tent among us ,and he will be with us during our pilgrimage, until the end of times. 

o   John says that “we have seen his glory, the glory of the Son, full of grace and truth.” 

o   This creating Word is the Redemptive Word which brings to us the salvation. It is JESUS the only son of the Father from all eternity, and the son of Mary in the time.   

Let us say with the Book of Revelation:

Let us end our meditation with the antiphon that we will read in the liturgy of January 1st Solemnity of Mary Mother of God  

¡O marvelous Exchange! 
Man’s creator has become man
Born of a virgin.
We have been made sharers
of the divinity of christ
Who humbled himself to share in our humanity.   

la Biblia de Nuestro Pueblo, texto  Luis Alonso Schokel, adaptacion del texto y comentarios: Equipo Internacional.
Ravasi, Gianfranco, Según las Escrituras: doble comentario a las lecturas del domingo, San Pablo 2005.
Comentario al Nuevo Testamento. Casa de la Biblia 1997.
Constituciones Primitivas en Lozano, Juan Manuel, Escritos de María Antonia París.
Claret, San Antonio María, Autobiography.  


This virtue (poverty) should be so precious that it was the first one that the Most Holy Humanity of Our Lord Jesus Christ practiced, being born in a shoddy manger, poorer than all the poor in the world.  Oh poverty of my God, who could inherit your riches!  Christ Our Lord taught us all the virtues in a heroic degree because it was God’s own virtue, but it seems that he wanted to inculcate Holy Poverty in a particular way (because she was his inseparable companion.  He is born very poor, lives in utmost poverty and dies in extreme necessity), as the foundation of evangelical life.
 (Venerable María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters. Plan for the Renewal of the Church, 49.) 
On December 25 God infused in me a love of being persecuted and slandered. The Lord even favored me with a dream the following night. I dreamed that I had been jailed on a charge I was innocent of. Because I considered it a gift from heaven to be treated like Jesus, I was silent, as He had been. Nearly all my friends had abandoned me, as had the friends of Jesus, too. One of my friends wanted to defend me, as Peter had wanted to defend Jesus, but I said to him, "Don't you want me to drink the chalice my Father has prepared for me? (Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 679.)


Tuesday, December 13, 2011


In this fourth Sunday of Advent the Liturgy of our Church presents to us Mary, the mother of Jesus and, Jesus as the descendant of David, the Son of God who wants to be born and live among us, who does not need a temple, because he wants to be in the midst of his people.  
Ø  The books of Samuel deal with the period in which two significant elements came into prominence in Israel: one the figure of the prophet; the other, the institution of kingship. 
Ø  In the Hebrew Bible the books: 1 and 2 Samuel together with Joshua, Judges and, 1 & 2 Kings for what was called “the minor prophets”. 
Ø  Also in the Hebrew Bible the two books of Samuel formed a single scroll (book) they were divided when they were translated into Greek.   
Ø  As we read the books of Samuel we realize that there are many repetitions (the same events  narrated to or three times) also some incoherences, that made the scholars think that these books had been written by different authors.   
Ø  However in spite of that, there is   a common theme through both books, a theology which we find also in the books of Judges, Joshua, 1 &2 Kings.   These books are called    “Deuteronomistic History”.   This theology and way of thinking is inspired on the book of Deuteronomy.  Some themes are: nationalistic spirit, pride for the successes, a positive and optimistic vision of the monarchy.   
Ø  As for the time in which they were written, there are some indications that make us think that they began to be written  in the beginning of the monarchy and continued until the postexilic period.  
Ø  Scholars think that in the process of the composition of these books many authors contributed to the work since we find repetitions (things narrated two and three times), incoherences.
Ø  We also find in these books some official documents: the list of the sons of David, the list of the officials of David, the list of the heroes of David, the census of the people.   
Ø  In the VIII B.C. other materials were added and also new theological interpretations of what was already written. 
Ø  The chronology of the narrations:   
o   Around  1050 B.C. Victory of the Philistines in Afec. 
o   Around  1010 B.C. David, king.
o   Around  970 B.C. The death of David.
Ø  Theology of History  
o   History is not only interpreted according to human standards but also from divine standards.
o   In the last instance God is the main protagonist of history.
o   He moves, changes and leads history toward his Project, to make of our history a salvation history. 
Ø  Theology of the monarchy  
o   The  monarchy was one of the most important institutions of all the peoples of Ancient Orient.  
o   According to the thinkers and theologians of these peoples, the kings were those who guaranteed: 
§  The moral, material, social and political stability of the people. 
§  Those who benefited the most from the saving and protective mission of the kings were the poor and marginalized   (Sal. 72).
§  Israel could not worship their kings as if they were gods, but from Solomon on the King was called and considered as the adoptive son of God. 
FIRST READING – 2 Sm 7:1-5, 8-11,16
«  The two themes are the temple and the dynasty 
«  The author uses the word house with a multivalent meaning:
o   House = house of God = temple
o   House = royal house = dynasty   
«  David wants to build a temple (house of God) so the ark will have a house, like David had a house to live in. 
«  Nathan thinks that this idea of David is good, and encourages him to do as his heart was telling him.  
«  But God does not want a house, a temple to be confined. God wants to be in the midst of his people, as he had always been during the journey through the desert and also before and after.
«  God is going to build a house= a royal house= a dynasty for David. The Messiah, the Son of God will be born in that family, that dynasty, David’s house.  
RESPONSORIAL PSALM   – 89:2-3,4-5,27.29
This psalm has the following parts:
*      Hymn  vv.  6-19
*      Oracle  vv.20-38
*      Lament vv. 39-52
*      V.53 is the benediction that closes Book III of the Psalter.
o   The psalms are organized in five books in the same way as the Pentateuch, the Law, has five books:
§  First book: psalms 1-41
§  Second book: psalms  42-72
§  Third book: psalms 73-89
§  Fourth book: psalms 90-106
§  Fifth book: psalms  107-150
*      At the end of the four first books we always find a doxology, some verses blessing God:  BLESSED BE THE LORD, THE GOD OF ISRAEL, FROM ALL ETERNITY AND FOREVER. AMEN. AMEN 
*      THE RESPONSORIAL PSALM is taken from the hymn and the oracle of psalm 89.   
SECOND READING   Rm 16:25-27
ü  These two verses are a doxology, Paul blesses God.  
ü  Doxology is a profession of faith, in which we praise God,  in Christian worship is the praise to the Most Holy Trinity.
ü  This doxology is the fruit of long and deep theological reflection done by the Christian Community over a long period of time. Probably a Christian who knew well the theology of Paul, tried to synthesize the theology of Paul in these two verses. 
o   Paul makes known the good news, the gospel, in his preaching of Jesus Christ. 
o   This gospel reveals the mystery that had been hidden during many centuries. The mystery that Christ has come to reveal to us: the love of the Father.  
o   And this mystery has been revealed to the gentiles by the will and command of God. 
o   The end of the letter is the climax of the doxology:  “to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ be glory forever and ever. Amen.
o   The glory to the Father is given always by and through Jesus.
GOSPEL  LK 1:26-38
  • The gospel of this fourth Sunday of Advent is the same one we read on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. 
  • On the day of the Immaculate Conception the emphasis was on Mary full of grace, and chosen by the Father. Mary Immaculate, Mary the woman of Genesis who will always fight against evil.  
  • On the fourth Sunday of Advent our eyes are turned to Jesus, the Son of the Father, the Son of David who is became flesh in Mary’s womb.   
  • There are many themes in this gospel which we may reflect on.  
    • The difference between the annunciation of the birth of John and the annunciation of the birth of Jesus:  
      • The birth of John is announced in Jerusalem, within the sacred place of the Temple to Zachariah, a priest,  who was about to begin the offering   of the sacrifice to God. 
      • The birth of Jesus is announced in Nazareth, a little town of Galilee from where nothing good can come. It is announced to Mary, a young and simple woman;  we are not told  what was she doing when the Angel came to her.  
      • Jerusalem was the center of the religious and political life of Israel, the city cherished by every Jewish person.  Nazareth is in a region which is not considered good because their religion is not as pure as that of Jerusalem, since the people in Galilee do business  with  the pagan peoples around them.   
      • And this is the way Jesus is going to appear among the people, as a simple man from that little town, a man who preaches the unconditional love of God for everyone. 
    • The theme of the Ark and of the Temple  
      • David wants to build a temple to put in it the Ark of the Covenant, to give it the due respect, this is what David thinks.   
      • But God does not want a temple to be confined, limited. God will come to us and will walk with his people, will share the simple life of the people, their difficulties, their sorrows and their joys. In the midst of the people is where the men and women of his time and or ours  will find him. 
      • The temple will always be the place for the people to meet for the worship of God, to bless God for all the good things God gives us, for God’s unconditional love. We will thank God for being so close to us.  
      • Mary is the true Ark of the Covenant, who bears, not the Tables but the Law made flesh. She is also the true Temple where humanity and divinity are joined forever in Jesus, true God and true man.  
      • And we may also say that Mary, the true Ark of the New Covenant, enters into the true Temple of God-God himself, when she is overshadowed by the Spirit of God at the Incarnation. 
    • The theme of the House:  
      • House as we have already said means: house as the dwelling place of a family.
      • But it also means the royal house or the dynasty.
      • In the reflection of the first reading we have developed this idea. 
    I had much to fight with the Procurator in the purchase of this house. Let the reader of these simple notes not be scandalized by the different opinions of the Procurator and mine. There is nothing to wonder; rather it is very natural because he is of very noble spirit and everything seems to him to be little for God. And, as I am of low condition, I have a very stingy spirit with God and therefore, a little seems to me to be too much, especially considering the poverty. And I, an ignorant woman, understood only what have read in the Holy Gospel, but they, who are very learned, understand better the scriptures according to the times. But Holy Obedience has solved everything; I never stepped away from it, not even a point, by the grace of God. (María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 191).

    During the first two years, despite the earthquakes and the cholera epidemic, we managed to visit all the parishes in the archdiocese. In every one of them a mission was led either by myself or my companions, and in rural parishes with a very large territory, several missions were given. Every two or three leagues we would hold a mission in one of the many large tobacco sheds. We would set up an altar, a pulpit, and a confessional with the help of some chairs and gratings we brought along for that purpose.
    Throughout those first two years it rained a great deal. On one occasion it rained for nine months without skipping a day; and there were days when it rained through the night as well. This made traveling difficult, but I and my companions kept on going and the people kept on coming. We were all happy and in good spirits, although we sometimes lacked even the necessities of life. (Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 538-539 )

    The Catholic Study Bible. New American Bible. 
    Gianfranco Ravasi, Segun las Escrituras: doble comentario a las lecturas del domingo, San Pablo 2005.
     Pagola, José A. Following in the Footsteps of Jesus. Convivium Press 2011.
     The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. 1988. 
    Autobiography of the Venerable Maria Antonia Paris.
    Autobiography of Saint Anthony Mary Claret